If a culture can be judged by how it treats its less fortunate members then Henry Bergh was indeed a great man. Only days after the New York state legislature passed laws governing animal cruelty in 1866, Bergh founded The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In that day animals were relied upon for transportation and other jobs and were often treated in an incredibly cruel manner as a matter of course.
A former shipwright who had received his share of the shipyard’s sale, Bergh became a proponent of the unloved and abandoned animals wandering the great metropolis of New York.
Because of his fame he was approached to help in the rescue of a young girl who was being abused by her foster mother. This experience led to the creation of The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
During his day Bergh was often known as “The Great Meddler” by those who resented his attempts to gain compassionate treatment for animals and children. Today the ideal of caring for the less fortunate Bergh represented has become a bedrock foundation of our cultural morality.