I readily, and I trust feelingly, acknowledged the duty incumbent on us all, as men and citizens, and as among the highest and holiest of our duties, to provide for those who, in the mysterious order of Providence, are subject to want and to disease of body and mind, but I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for making the Federal Government the great almoner of public charity throughout the United States. . . . It would, in the end, be prejudicial rather than beneficial to the noble offices of charity. . . .
President Franklin Pierce, 1854. Cited, by Clarence B. Carson, A Basic History of the United States, Vol. 3: The Sections and the Civil War, 1826-1877, pg.48