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White Slaves; or, the Oppression of the Worthy Poor   By: (1855-1933)

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To My Father and Mother,

Who instilled into my mind and heart, in the days of a happy boyhood, their own love for liberty and hatred of oppression, this volume is gratefully dedicated.


Mr. Edison tells us that ninety per cent of the energy that there is in coal is lost in the present method of converting it into a usable force. May I, without being considered a croaker, say that almost the same amount of spiritual power goes to waste in our average church life? One is startled at times as he notes the manifestations of fervor and warmth in the devotional meetings of the present day, and the meagre results that follow in the transformation of society into the likeness of the kingdom of heaven. Exactly what we have to do, however, is to help hasten the answer to the prayer our Lord taught us, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," and not to be forever seeking to build tabernacles on some Mount of Transfiguration.

This book of Dr. Banks's is a positive stimulus to this work of social transformation. The young men and women of our Epworth League could not do better than to carefully and thoughtfully study its vivid pictures of every day scenes in our great, and even in our lesser, cities.

Such study will open their eyes to sad deformities in their own communities, to which too many have become strangely indifferent through custom and wont. True, it is not pleasant to consider these distressing matters; but is it the business of the Christian to avoid that which is unpleasant? Consideration leads to sympathy, and sympathy wonderfully quickens the inventive faculties; and the aroused intellect and active affection are leavening forces that alter social conditions always for the better.

I take great pleasure, therefore, in commending this work, because it stirs all who read it. It may make you indignant. What of it? Would that more were alive enough to be indignant with the indignation of our Lord at the forces of unbrotherliness at work in our midst! It will do more than rouse your indignation; it will help you to utter the prayer that gave the accent to the life of Paul: "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" When in works of Mercy and Help our tens of thousands of Epworth Leaguers are loyally living this prayer, the problem of Edison, as applied to spiritual dynamics, will be solved, and the latent forces of spiritual energy used to their utmost. Then, as slavery has passed away, war and tyranny and idleness and poverty will be no more, and the end to which Christ leads us, and for which He died, will be attained.


Vice President for Mercy and Help Department .



This volume had its origin in experiences which came to me in the daily duties of a city pastorate. The inadequate wages received by some of the members of my own congregation, and the impoverished and unhealthy surroundings of many of the poor people who came for me to christen their children, pray with their sick, or bury their dead, so aroused my sympathy for the victims, and my indignation against the cruel or indifferent causes of their misery, that I determined upon a thorough and systematic investigation of the conditions of life among the worthy Boston poor. By the word "worthy" I do not mean to indicate a class of saints, but the poor people of the city who are willing and anxious to exchange honest hard work for their support. I have not, in the series of studies here presented, entered into a discussion of the vicious and criminal classes. I have tried to perform, as it seemed to me, a far more important task to make a plea for justice on behalf of the crushed, and often forgotten, victims of greed, who work and starve in their cellars and garrets rather than beg or steal... Continue reading book >>

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