Subject Area

History

Description

George Beverstock’s poem, “The Silver-Key: or A fancy of TRUTH, and a Warning to YOUTH: Showing the Benefit of MONEY, and the Contempt of the Poor, under the term of a Silver-Key,” emphasizes both the importance of wealth and power and the embarrassment and shame associated with poverty. During the American Revolutionary era and the New Republic, happiness and prosperity, according to Beverstock, were rooted in wealth and power, as symbolized by the silver key. Without wealth, life was meaningless, and families were subject to a lifetime of poverty and hardship. The word “contempt” insinuates that those living in poverty were deemed worthless by society. The upper class controlled the standard of living for the community at large, as represented by the stanza that reads “the Silver Key doth bear the way, where men are good or bad; if you have lost the silver key, but little can be had.” Beverstock suggests that the upper class was seen as the only population worthy of happiness and prosperity, especially compared to those experiencing poverty. This depiction shows a lack of empathy and compassion for the poor. As a result, almshouses began their efforts to try and aid those deemed undesirable in mid-eighteenth-century New York City.

Publisher

Providence College

Academic Year

2018-2019

Date

Fall 2019

Type

Article

Format

Text

.pdf

Language

English

Share

COinS