In the mid-eighteenth century in France, the royal authorities launched a new campaign to sweep beggars from the streets, pinning their hopes on the creation of a uniform royal network of lock-ups in which anyone found begging might be detained. In this study, Adams probes the accomplishments and the failings of these so-called dA(c)pAts de mendicitA(c), as seen by critics of the experiment (including learned judges and influential spokesmen of the provincial Estates) and as seen by those responsible for its success: the provincial intendants, the royal engineers, the doctors, the inspectors, the contractors, and various givers of advice. He shows how the debate--both internal and external--over the operation of the dA(c)pAts contributed to the intellectual ferment of the Enlightenment and the Revolution. The resulting web of reasoning and empirical data gave support to Montesquieu's principle that the state owes every one of its citizens "a secure subsistence, suitable food and clothing, and a manner of life that is not contrary to good health."
"Adams has given us a mature and dense book, the distillation of years of labor and reflection."--American Historical Review
"A valuable contribution to the historiography of early modern European society and public policy."--The Historian
"His study of the language of reform is compelling."--Journal of Social History
"Lays out all of the contours of a fascinating debate about social policy that has remarkable parallels to current American politics...A wealth of useful material."--Journal of Interdisciplinary History