fuel and food were dear, many thousands of men and women were out of employment, and there was general distress.
As the cold months wore slowly on, the sufferings of the poor became so aggravated, and the number of the unemployed increased to such a degree, that the ordinary means were inadequate to relieve even those who were destitute of every one of the necessaries of life.
Some died of starvation.
Some were frozen to death.
Many, through exposure and privation, contracted fatal diseases.
A large number, who had never before known-want, were reduced to beg. Respectable mechanics were known to offer their services as waiters in eating-houses for their food only.
There never had been such a time of suffering in New York before, and there has not been since.
Extraordinary measures were taken by the comfortable classes to alleviate the sufferings of their unfortunate fellow-citizens.
Meetings were held, subscriptions were made, committees were appointed; and upon one of the committees Horace Greeley
was named to serve, and did serve, faithfully and laboriously, for many weeks.
The district which his committee had in charge was the Sixth Ward, the “bloody” Sixth, the squalid, poverty-stricken Sixth, the pool into which all that is worst in this metropolis has a tendency to reel and slide.
It was his task, and that of his colleagues, to see that no one froze or starved in that forlorn and polluted region.
More than this they could not do, for the subscriptions, liberal as they were, were not more than sufficient to relieve actual and pressing distress.
In the better parts of the Sixth Ward a large number of mechanics lived, whose cry was, not for the bread and the fuel of charity, but for work!
Charity their honest souls disdained.
Its food choked them, its fire chilled them.
Work, give us work!
was their eager, passionate demand.
All this Horace Greeley
heard and saw. He was a young man—not quite twenty-six-compassionate to weakness, generous to a fault.
He had known what it was to beg for work, from shop to shop, from town to town; and, that very winter, he was struggling with debt, at no safe distance from bankruptcy.
must these things be?
Will they always
Is it in human wisdom to devise a remedy?
in human virtue to apply it?
the beneficent God have designed this, who, with such wonderful profusion, has provided for the wants, tastes, and luxuries