|Title||Killing the Poormaster: A Saga of Poverty, Corruption, and Murder in the Great Depression.|
|Collection||Hoboken Library & Literary Collection|
Killing the Poormaster: A Saga of Poverty, Corruption, and Murder in the Great Depression. By Holly Metz. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, . First edition. 8vo hardcover, dustjacket. pp. x, 308; map; photographs; indexed. Copy 1.
A non-fiction examination of the murder of a Hoboken, N.J. city officer, the Overseer of the Poor, Harry L. Barck.
Text, dustjacket, front flap:
On February 25, 1938, Hoboken's reviled poormaster, Harry Barck - wielding power over who would receive public aid - died from a paper spike thrust into his heart.
Barck was murdered, the prosecution would assert by an unemployed mason named Joe Scutellaro. In denying Scutellaro money, Barck had suggested that the man's wife prostitute herself on the streets rather than ask for the New Jersey city for aid. The men scuffled. Scutellaro insisted that Barck fell on his spike; the police claimed that he grabbed the spike and stabbed Barck.
News of the poormaster's death brought national attention to the plight of ten million unemployed Americans living in desparate circumstances. A team led by celebrated attorney Samuel Liebowitz of "Scottsboro Boys" fame worked to save Scutellaro from the electric chair, arguing that the jobless man's struggle with the poormaster was a symbol of larger social ills. The trial became an indictment of "a system which expects a man to live this great democracy under such shameful circumstances."
The issues examined in Killing the Poormaster - massive unemployment, endemic poverty, and the inadequacy of public assistance - remain vital. With its insight into our social contract, Killing the Poormaster reads like today's news.
|Publisher||Lawrence Hill Books / Chicago Review Press|
|Physical Description||8vo hardcover|
Overseer of the Poor
|Year Range from||2012|
|Year Range to||2012|
McFeely, Bernard N.
Social & Personal Activity
Government & Politics