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State Board of Health, and no advance information yet given out indicates that the mill boys will not compare favorably with those in other walks of life.
The death rate in cotton-mill villages has not been higher than in other communities, and in any mill village the men and women who have grown up in mill work are healthier and better physical specimens than those who have moved in from the farm or from other vocations.
Regular habits, good food and living conditions, together with the supervision of health conditions by mill authorities, are all on the side of the mill operative.
Many mills spend considerable upon their health departments, because healthy operatives mean efficient operatives.
The following are the results accomplished by the health department at one cotton-mill community :
Year with health department.
54 99 21
9 16 54 46 17
4 1 6 6 0 36 9
9 1,053 5,449
It is easy to say that millwork ruins the health of young people, but it has yet to be proved.
While the mills run an average of 10 hours per day it is estimated that boys under 16, who are employed almost exclusively as doffer boys, work from five and one-half to six hours. When bobbins become full the boys remove them, which is called doffing, and between doffs they are at liberty, so that they really work not exceeding six hours per day.
The girls under 16 are employed almost exclusively in the spinning room and while they are required to be in the room all the time, they are not constantly at work. Each girl has a certain number of sides (meaning one side of a spinning frame) to look after and replace the ends when they break. When the ends are up the girl sits at the end of the spinning frame and makes an occasional trip down the alley to see that everything is all right.
There is no mental or physical strain in connection with the work, and the largest weight that the girl has to lift at any one time is 11 pounds, and in the course of a day she will lift only a few of them.
The work of a girl in a cotton mill can in no way be compared to the strain upon one bending over a sewing machine in a sweat shop.
Dr. T. W. D. Long, of Roanoke Rapids, N. C., testified before the House committee that during five years' work in a mill population of 5,000 he had been able to see no injurious effects of the work performed by girls and had never known a case of insanity or nervous prostration among the girls or young women, Dr. Long also testified that the ability of mill women to bring into the world strong, healthy children did not appear to be affected by the work they had performed in cotton mills when 14 years of age or less.
MILLWORK DOES NOT CAUSE TUBERCULOSIS.
It is not unusual to hear the statement that work in cotton mills causes tuberculosis, yet such a statement is absolutely unsupported by facts.
There was a sensational amount of tuberculosis at the Wadesboro Silk Mill, Wadesboro, N. C., and it was all charged to the millwork. Dr. L. B. McBrayer, the well-known expert of Sanatorium, N. C., was called into the case and made an elaborate investigation, in which he traced the history of every case, and found that not a single case has been caused by millwork or had even been caused by contact in the mill.
Dr. McBrayer, in his testimony before the Labor Committee, said:
• It is impossible for any trade or any occupation to produce tuberculosis without infection. , The stonecutter's trade is a very dusty trade, and fine particles of stone are carried into the lung, into the air cells, and on cutting the lung with a knife you can feel the particles of stone. Yet that does not produce tuberculosis, but it is apparently a frequent cause of pneumonia, traumatic pneumonia. The same is true to a limited degree perhaps of coal dust, but tuberculosis can not be caused except by exposure to some other case.”
This testimony from an expert who has never had any connection with the cotton-mill industry ought to set at rest the popular illusion that work in cotton mills causes tuberculosis.
Some experts have gone so far as to claim that the absorptive properties of cotton lint tend to prevent tuberculosis and the remarkable decrease of tuberculosis in the large cotton mill towns of Massachusetts as compared with noncotton manufacturing towns of that section tend to substantiate the claim.
With the exception of the opening room, where men are exclusively employed, there is very little lint or dust in a cotton mill, and if your committee goes South you will be surprised at the pure atmosphere you will find in the spinning rooms.
The mortuary figures of the Metropolitan Insurance Co. show the per cent of deaths among the textile operatives from tuberculosis to be one of the lowest upon the list, and less than half as great as that among clerks and bookkeepers.
WORK NOT DANGEROUS.
In the House debate one Congressman spoke of the blood of the children spattered upon the window panes, and voiced the impression that has been insiduously creating the effect that cotton mills injure and maim many children,
Cotton-mill machinery, especially in the departments where young people work, is very harmless, and accidents are exceedingly rare. Dr. T. W. M. Long, who has charge of a free hospital in a village of 5,000 cotton-mill people, stated before the Labor Committee that he had known of no serious accident in the mills in five years, and during the past 12 months the total accidents in the mills were one or two cases of lacerated fingers, none of which required amputation.
Companies that write employment liability insurance naturally base their rates upon the liability of accidents as found from the records of the past.
The following are the rates charged in North Carolina for a policy covering $5,000 for injury to one person or $10,000 to several injured at the same time. The rate includes first medical aid and is the price charged per $100 of pay roll. Street car conductors.
$4. 08 Planing mill.
2.471 Foundry and machine shops..
1. 36 Laundry work...
1. 22 Furniture factories.
1. 09 Farm laborers_ Cotton mills.-
. 491 The evidence, therefore, of the people that pay money for accidents is that there are fewer accidents and less risk in cotton mills than in any other line of work. They show the remarkable fact that there is more risk in working on a farm than there is in a cotton mill.
MENTAL EFFECT OF WORK.
The claim that cotton-mill work has a disastrous effect upon the minds of children seems to be based upon nothing but supposition.
The superintendents who are holding the highest positions and drawing the largest salaries in southern cotton mills are the boys who began work at early ages.
Lincoln, Grant, and most of our really great men worked when they were boys; and in his remarks in the House Congressman Joe Cannon said, “You will find, if your experience is like mine, that three-fourths of the men who are doing things to-day were boys upon the farm or in the mine or in the factory. Their successors, 50 years from now, will be the boys who learn to hustle while they are young."
If the Commonwealth of Massachusetts desires to make a useful citizen out of a bad boy, she sends him to a reformatory and puts him to work. If work injures, why not let the boys in such institutions simply study and play? They are children, even if they are in a reformatory, and yet the State says they must work but at the same time says that it will ruin the health of a good boy whose mother needs his labor.
The boy while working in a cotton mill is also being educated in his life work, and the later he begins the longer it will require him to reach the top of the ladder.
If cotton-mill work injures children, it does seem that there would be some evidence in insanity; and yet we have the following statistics :
Admitted to State Sanatorium at Milledgeville, Ga. : From cotton mills:
From farms: 1910
2, 586 Practically the same ratio will be found at the other insane asylums in the South and does not show much impairment of mental faculties of the mill population.
EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES. The charge is made that children employed in the mills are denied a chance for education, and to some extent that is true and should be remedied as far as possible.
Whenever it is possible for a child to attend school it should be given the opportunity, but unfortunately there are many who are not able to send their children to school when they were not allowed to work, and to say that a State should have compulsory education and should provide the necessary school does not help the case if that State has not compulsory education and is not providing the necessary schools.
Winthrop Talbert has an article “Illiteracy and Democracy" in the December (1915) issue of the North American Review, and from that we quote the following extract:
" It has long been a choice morsel for the social pessimist and critic of democracy that nearly one-fourth of the population of the Southern States is illiterate. We have been accustomed to think of Alabama, Mississippi, and neighboring States as the "black belt," not only with regard to race, but also schooling. It gives a different aspect to the situation to know that each Southern State has cut its percentage of illiteracy more than 25 per cent during the last census period from 1900 to 1910, and that in the South Atlantic, East South Central, and West South Central divisions, which include all the Southern States, the number of illiterates was nearly a million (938,767) less in 1910 than in 1900.
" Illiteracy may be a hindrance, but it is not a peril, in States which are so active through public-school endeavor and otherwise that each decade they are steadily effecting wholesale reductions not only in the percentage, but in the number of illiterates. Thus illiteracy is a menace only in the manufacturing States of New England and in the States of the Middle Atlantic division, which for 10 years—nay, even for 20 years, as in the State of New York-have failed to reduce their percentage of illiteracy, and have also increased enormously their numbers of illiterates, or, as in the case of Connecticut, have actually retrograded and have increased not only in numbers of illiterates, but in percentage of illiteracy as well. The New England, Middle Atlantic, Mountain, and Pacific divisions are those which show an increase in the number of illiterates during the last 20 years. “ Illiterates are steadily increasing in number, not in the South, but in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, North Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Washington, California, the heaviest increase being in New England and the Middle Atlantic States. During the 20 years from 1890 to 1910 the number of illiterates in Virginia, North Carolina, South
Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, and Florida decreased from 2,027,951 to 1,427,063. In Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania the increase was from 790,772 to 1,103,872."
The statistics show that the States with advanced child-labor laws are increasing in illiteracy, while the Southern States, where such a great evil is alleged to exist, are actually making rapid strides in eliminating illiteracy.
The cotton mills of the South almost without exception have splendid schools for their employees and encourage them to attend. The cotton manufacturers of our section do not wish their mill operatives to remain ignorant, because they believe that education increases their efficiency. The mills have been the greatest factors in decreasing illiteracy in the South.
CHILDREN OF MILL CHILDREN.
A favorite argument of supporters of the Keating-Owen bill is that by allowing boys and girls to work we are injuring the next generation.
It is a plausible argument, but is absolutely unsupported by proof. In any mill village the strongest and healthiest children are those of men and women who were formerly employed in the mills at early ages. They will average far above the children of those who recently moved to the mills from the farms.
It is absurd to claim that the light work performed by a spinner should cause her future child to be defective, and proponents of such a theory have never been able to give proof.
OBEYING THE LAW.
At the last meeting of the North Carolina Cotton Manufacturers' Association, June, 1915, the following resolutions were adopted :
“Resolved, First. That this association pledge itself to encourage a faithful compliance with the child-labor laws of the State.
“Second. That we respectfully request every superior court judge in this State to instruct the grand jury in each of his courts to investigate and returu all violations of said laws coming within his knowledge.
“Third. That we ask every county superintendent of education to report, and every solicitor in this State to prosecute, all violations of said laws known or reported to him.
“Fourth. That this association continues to sincerely recommend both scholastic education and practical training, and condemns idleness as the greatest curse of civilization. It regards with great pride the compulsory school attendance law, which this association unanimously recommended and supported; and this association again earnestly advises that the age limit of saia school law be raised to 13 years, and that it be rigidly enforced by the local authorities.
“Fifth. That a copy of these resolutions be sent to every manufacturer and to every judge, solicitor, and county superintendent of education in this State.”
The words “child labor” are abhorrent to every mind, and it is easy for the public to accept the unsubstantiated and unproved statement that the cotton mills of the South are grinding the lives out of little children.
The cotton manufacturers are sincere and honest in their contentions that they are not injuring children, and are willing to have unbiased persons investigate at any time.
If the Keating-Owen bill is enacted upon the basis of rumors and misrepresentations without the true facts being known, it will inflict an injustice upon an industry that has a clean record and clean hands.
Mr. SWIFT. Mr. Patterson has a few words to say in the nature of rebuttal on things that were brought out, and if you will hear him I think it will take but a few minutes.
STATEMENT OF MR. SAMUEL E. PATTERSON-Resumed.
Mr. PATTERSON. Gentlemen, I am going to detain you but a few minutes. You heard what Mr. Swift had to say in regard to the comparison between mill villages and the rural districts as to education.
I have a number of telegrams here from the superintendents of public instruction at the different places in answer to an inquiry I sent them after the hearing closed last night, showing what the mill villages were doing and what their average attendance has been.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN. Let me suggest that you include in the record a copy of your telegram to them, with their replies.
Mr. PATTERSON. The wording of the J. L. Patterson telegram is the same as that sent to all others who replied.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN. Well, then, insert the Patterson telegram only.
(The Patterson telegram referred to and the replies thereto are as follows:)
WASHINGTON, D. C., February 17, 1916. J. L. PATTERSON,
Roanoke Rapids, N. C.: "Swift testified that average daily school attendance in Roanoke Rapids less than in remainder of Halifax County. Ascertain and wire immediately to Shoreham Hotel. Have mayor, board of commissioners, presidents of the banks, merchants, etc., wire protest against passage of Keating bill to Senator E. D. Smith, of the Interstate Commerce Committee of the Senate. Hurry.
S. F. PATTERSON.
GREEN WOOD, S. C., February 18, 1916. S. F. PATTERSON, Chairman,
Care Shoreham Hotel, Washington, D. C.: The average daily attendance all mill school, Greenwood (S. C.) territory, 90 per cent of enrollment.
A. P. McKISSICK.
HENDERSON, N. C., February 18, 1916. SAMUEL F. PATTERSON,
Shoreham Hotel, Washington, D. C.: School buildings and equipment at Henderson and Harriet cotton mills far better than rural buildings, and equipment school terms nine months against rural terms four and one-half to five months. Five grades taught at mill schools. Pupils then promoted to our central grammar and high schools. All one system and under same superintendent. Compulsory attendance in force from 8 to 13 years, one year more than the State requires. Conditions in these mill schools will compare favorably with any other public schools in the country. Average daily attendance, 90 per cent.
J. T. ALDERMAN, Superintendent Henderson Graded Schools.
DURHAM, N. C., February 18, 1916. S. F. PATTERSON,
Shoreham Hotel, Washington, D. C.: Official figures for session 1911-15 for Durham County show total enrollment in mill communities of county schools of 1,353; average attendance, 73.9 per cent. Total enrollment other rural schools, 1,944; average attendance, 60.9 per cent. Trying to obtain figures of Harnett and Davie Counties.
W. A. ERWIN, Treasurer.
ROANOKE RAPIDS, N. C., February 18, 1916. S. F. PATTERSON,
Shoreham Hotel, Washington, D. C.: Figures for last available period covering white and colored schools, Roanoke Rapids school district: Census, 1,412; enrollment 822, equals 58.2 per cent of Bensus. Average attendance 634, equals 77.1 per cent of enrollment and 45 per cent of census. Value of school property, $46,000.
A. M. PROCTOR, Superintendent Roanoke Rapids Schools.