The condition of the poor under laissez faire was unenviable, to say the least. As long as they were healthy and able-bodied and could find employment, they could subsist. But should misfortune overtake them, should they become incapacitated through accident, sickness or old age, should they be unable to find employment because there were not jobs to be had, they quickly became destitute and were obliged to seek and accept public relief. The social welfare movement in the United States developed along two lines between the adoption of the Constitution and the advent of the great depression in the early 1930s: public and private. By public welfare we mean the amelioration of the lot of the poor through government: towns, counties, states, and the federal government. Private welfare is that performed by societies such as churches and fraternal orders as one of their functions; charitable and philanthropic societies; and by civic organizations devoted exclusively to amelioration.