History Quiz – Just for Fun

The organized humane movement in the United States began right after the Civil War. From 1866 when the first SPCA was founded until the end of the progressive era around 1920, the three cities that were the center of the humane movement in the United States were New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. Each of these cities had its great leader in humane work. In New York City it was Henry Bergh. In Philadelphia it was Caroline Earle White. In Boston it was George Angell. These three people were the most prominent champions of animal welfare in the United States in the post-Civil-War period.

Today these great leaders are not talked about much and many people are unfamiliar with them. Following is a quiz about them. I hope you find it interesting.

1. Which of the three humane leaders founded the first national humane organization in the United States?

A. Henry Bergh

B. Caroline Earle White

C. George Angell

Answer: A – Henry Bergh, who founded the ASPCA in 1866. Two years later in 1868 White founded the Pennsylvania SPCA and Angell founded the Massachusetts SPCA. In 1869, White founded another SPCA, the Women’s Branch of the Pennsylvania SPCA, after she was precluded from participating in the leadership of the Pennsylvania SPCA due to her gender.

2. Which of the three humane leaders was a vegetarian?

A. Henry Bergh

B. Caroline Earle White

C. George Angell

Answer: B – Caroline Earle White. White worked very hard on humane transport of cattle and other animals from the western plains to slaughterhouses in the midwest and east, but progress was slow. The cruel treatment of meat animals may have been what motivated her to become a vegetarian.

3. Which of the three humane leaders proposed an ordinance in 1880 to allow the mayor to appoint people to catch any cat found in a public area and kill it unless reclaimed by its owner within 3 hours?

A. Henry Bergh

B. Caroline Earle White

C. George Angell

Answer: A – Henry Bergh. Bergh’s proposed cat ordinance was criticized by people who feared that the three-hour holding period was not long enough to allow people to reclaim their pets. Bergh stated that the ordinance was “for the sake of suffering humanity as well as the wretched cats.” The ordinance was approved by the New York City aldermen but was never approved and put into effect by the mayor, possibly due to a lack of funds to implement it.

4. Which of the three humane leaders proposed a lecture series at a prominent university that would link the humane movement to other great reform movements of the post-Civil-War era such as women’s suffrage?

A. Henry Bergh

B. Caroline Earle White

C. George Angell

Answer: C – George Angell. He proposed the series of lectures to the president of Harvard.

5. Which of the three humane leaders was successful at persuading the city to allow his or her humane organization to take over the cruel city dog pound?

A. Henry Bergh

B. Caroline Earle White

C. George Angell

Answer: – Caroline Earle White, whose Women’s Branch SPCA took over the Philadelphia city pound in 1870 and replaced it with a shelter. The Philadelphia dog pound had been one of the cruelest in the country, where dogs were held without food and killed by a painful method after their hold period expired, and White took it over to stop the cruelty. Bergh proposed in 1873 to the mayor of New York that the city build a shelter like the one in Philadelphia and allow the ASPCA to run it, but the city declined. Angell believed that there were not enough homeless dogs in Boston to justify building a pound or a shelter.

6. Which of the three humane leaders said that animals had a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

A. Henry Bergh

B. Caroline Earle White

C. George Angell

Answer: B – Caroline Earle White. Although both White and Bergh made “rights” statements about animals, they do not appear to have believed in a literal right to life for animals. In the case of cats and dogs, all three of the humane leaders appear to have accepted the killing of homeless cats and dogs. They probably saw it as a necessity given the lack of any practical method to cut down on breeding (the capability to do mass spaying of dogs and cats would not mature until the 1960s or 1970s), and the public’s intense fear of stray dogs due to the threat of rabies (commercial rabies vaccines for dogs were not available in the 1800s and early 1900s, and post-exposure vaccination for humans was not available until late in the 1800s). The concern of the three humane leaders was not to abolish shelter killing, but to ensure that impoundment and killing be done in a way that was as humane as possible.

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