From Lady Victorian Historian
Life Span: 1819-1901
Life Span: 1841-1910
The skilled and unskilled were all looking for work. Wages were so low they were barely above subsistence level.
Moms and dads were working hard to get food on the table, have clothes on their backs, and a roof over their heads. Children had to work. Hours were long, jobs were dangerous, and the environment was difficult at best ... and ALL for a VERY low wage.
Folks needed to live close to where they worked. Housing become scarce simply due to the number of people AND it was very expensive. Slum housing was prevalent. [Read: The Victorian Underworld by Kellow Chesney.] That's why folks of my grandparents' generation were confused as to why folks were complaining about government housing in the Detroit metro-area. To them this housing was FANTASTIC which only goes to illustrate how bad things had become.
Overcrowding & Poor Sanitary Conditions
Many families opted to live in the same apartment together in order to save $$$$ and to survive. Many families did not have separate living accommodations. On 24 September 1849, Morning Chronicle journalist Henry Mayhew described a London street had drains and sewers emptying into it. Stagnant pools were there which he decided as having ‘the colour of strong green tea’ and THIS was the only water they those living on that street had to drink. The big cities in the USA were no different. Mayhew reported, As we gazed in horror at it, we saw drains and sewers emptying their filthy contents into it; we saw a whole tier of doorless privies in the open road, common to men and women built over it; we heard bucket after bucket of filth splash into it.
Orphanages were overcrowded. There were simply not enough places to keep homeless children. Subsequently, they lived on the streets surviving by any means they could.
... and these are just a FEW of the moral problems from the Victorian Era
How did some of the smug folks deal with it intellectually?
The problem of poverty was the fault of the poor because they spent money on gambling, drinking, and drugs ... that may have been true for a certain percentage of individuals ... but most definitely NOT for all ... otherwise the Horatio Alger rags-to-riches stories would not have been so popular ... folks needed to know they at least had a chance
God put those individuals in that place ... they had no right to get out of it ... they needed to accept those things ... they were in sin because they were not content
Check out the 1848 hymn by Cecil Frances Alexander ...
The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them, high and lowly,
And order’d their estate
ALL of these things are indicative of immorality.
~ notes from Lady Victorian Historian