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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 81

Historical Sketch

page 2

Historical Sketch.

While Mr. George was engaged in business in New York City he devoted much time to the study of social conditions, especially in relation to children. Between the years 1890 and 1895 he spent his summers in fresh air work, taking from two hundred to two hundred and fifty boys and girls each year to Freeville, N. Y,

An obvious difficulty arose. The farmers demanded protection against the lawless visitors from the city. There was necessity for control. Moreover a strong tendency to pauperism showed itself; the children were receiving food and gifts of clothing, which they soon demanded as a right. So these things were led, first to a system of punishment, (the prison), and second to the cardinal doctrine of the Republic, "Nothing Without Labor." Finding by actual experience the existence of a keen sense of justice, and seeing the advantage of retiring from his self-appointed position of arbitary dispenser of punishment, Mr. George established a Jury. Then it was discovered that the boys made better policemen than their elders.

Late in the summer of 1894 while examining the results of his work Mr. George suddenly discovered the plan he had been working toward was nothing more or less than a junior Republic. The work was so much more satisfactory than that of the previous years that it was decided to continue the summer work in the future on principles of self-support and self-government. page 3 During the summer of 1895 it became evident that the training of the lives of children was being carried out successfully and it was decided to make the work permanent. When the large party returned to the city in September, Mr. George and five boys remained at Freeville forming the nucleus around which the Republic has been built.

The numbers have increased gradually but steadily, until now many more applications are received than can be accepted. For two summers after the organization of the permanent work, companies of boys and girls were brought to the Junior Republic for the months of July and August. After this the temporary camp work was abandoned as it was found to be far less satisfactory, and much more expensive than the permanent work.