John E. Murray, â€œThe Charleston Orphan House: Childrenâ€™s Lives in the First Public Orphanage in Americaâ€
There were always and will always be orphans. The question is what to do with them. In his terrific new bookÂ The Charleston Orphan House: Childrenâ€™s Lives in the First Public Orphanage in AmericaÂ (University of Chicago Press, 2013), economic historianÂ John E. MurrayÂ tells us how one Southern American city did it in the 18th and 19th centuries. Charleston was a city divided between free whites and enslaved African Americans. The whites felt insecure and, according to Murray, this is one of the reasons they founded and funded Americaâ€™s first public orphanage. The white-only institution not only helpedÂ indigentÂ parents and their children, but it also brought the cityâ€™s white population together in a way no other body did. Â It was an expression of civic humanity, but it was also an expression of white unity against the black masses. Listen to John tell the tale.