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“Tramps’ Terror.”

The massive growth in unemployment during the depression of the 1870s forced many urban workers to wander from town to town, looking for work. These wanderers often used the railroads to travel, which gave rise to the popular image of the rail-riding “tramp.” To some Americans, the unemployed who wandered the country in this manner posed a threat to order and safety. The “tramp menace,” many argued, required a repressive response—and advertisements like this exploited the pervasive fear.

Source: Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, April 7, 1877—American Social History Project.