1536: King François I of France bans begging throughout the whole of France.
1596: The first workhouse for the poor is built in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
1601: British legislators pass the Poor Law Act, providing financial relief to children and the physically handicapped.
The act would later be updated in 1795.
1623: Philosopher William Petty, who would lay the basis for modern census-taking, is born in Hampshire, England, as the son of a clothier.
1642: The newly settled Plymouth Colony creates the first poor law in the English-speaking New World.
1651: Philosopher Thomas Hobbes publishes Leviathan, the book for which he is most known. In the book, Hobbes adopts a pessimistic view of the state of human nature, writing that life is nothing more tan “nasty, brutish, and short.”
1750: One of the first almshouses, or ramshackle living spaces designed to house the extremely poor, is built in the United States.
1789: Six thousand French women march on the palace of King Louis XVI in Versailles, demanding bread.
1795: British legislators update the 1601 Poor Law Act, extending relief eligibility to the physically able.
One of the first poverty lines is created in the English city of Speenhamland. When a worker’s wage fell below this line, which was based on both the price of bread and the number of dependents, or children, the worker is required to support, a worker would be eligible to receive relief.
1818: Karl Marx, considered the father of communism, is born in Trier, Germany, to a wealthy Jewish family.
1820: Friedrich Engels, who would cowrite with Karl Marx six books on the subject of communism, is born in Wuppertal, Germany, to a successful textile industrialist.
Sent to work at a cotton factory in Manchester, England, as a young man, Engels’s discovery of the working conditions inspires his social consciousness.
1833: French author Frédéric Ozanam founds the Conference of Charity, later known as the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
1848: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels publish The Communist Manifesto, which is summed up by its opening line: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle.”
1851: The first American chapter of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), an organization devoted to providing relief to young people despite religious affiliation, is founded in the city of Boston.
See also: Poverty 1534