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opposed to the employment of children in factories under 14 years
Mrs. Garrett speaks of the Pennsylvania law that went into effect on the 1st of January as preventing " occupation to all children under 14.” Pennsylvania for many years has had a law prohibiting the employment of children under 14 years of age in factories. The District of Columbia, in which Mrs. Birney resides, has had since 1908 a law passed by the Congress of the United States not only prohibiting the employment of children under 14 years of age in factories, mercantile establishments, etc., but containing the other standards of this bill, the prohibition of night work for children under 16 and the prescribing an 8-hour day for children under 16. The strength of the sentiment, if it be called sentiment, behind the enactment of the Federal child-labor law, is the experience which the people interested in this question in the States have already had concerning the actual workings of child-labor laws. They recognize that the enactment of a Federal law will be a great aid to the enforcement of the laws already in existence in most of the States, while it will tend to the protection of children now employed below these standards in other States.
With regard to the employment of children under 14 years of age in factories in vacation, experience here also is our guide. First, a good many States formerly allowed such employment. But it was found that the worst season of the year for confining children within the walls of factories was the vacation season during the torrid summer months. Again, in the experience of those interested in enforcing the law, it was found that when once the mill or factory had laid claim to the child under 14, through affording an opportunity for employment, every possible expedient and device would be adopted to continue the employment of the child after the vacation period was over.
I find that Miss Garrett quotes from a good many prominent people, but upon examination most of these quotations seem to be irrelevant. For example, she quotes from Mrs. Theodore Birney, founder of the National Congress of Mothers, who says, "One fundamental purpose of our work is character building from the cradle.” I do not presume that Miss Garrett would insist upon work in a factory as part of character building from the earliest moment in childhood when the child could be employed. As I can testify from personal knowledge, Mrs. Theodore Birney was one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the bill before the Georgia Legislature raising the age limit for the employment of children to 14 years, and her eloquent pen was busy writing stories and arguments for the Atlanta papers in favor of the legislation. Nobody that I know of is opposed to work for children; we object to their being worked. Most of us who have children at school consider that they are at work when at their studies. Most of us who are parents find work for our children out of school without shutting them up in a factory. I most earnestly deprecate the position that the little children of the poor must be deprived of their Saturday holiday and of their vacation periods, or that we have yet descended so low in civilization that it is necessary to sentence children under 14 years of age to hard labor in factories during the vacation period in order to keep them from becoming criminals. Mrs. Garrett quotes from Judge Ben Lindsay
to the effect that “there are a great number of children in this country from 14 years of age upward about whom I feel more alarmed at their failure to do or to know how to do any kind of useful work than of any possibility of their being overworked.” But Miss Garrett is contending for the employment of children under 14, while Judge Lindsay is concerned about the unemployment of children over 14.
Nor are we left without convincing proof of the fact that it is the children who are employed too early in life who make up the army of juvenile delinquents who pass through the juvenile courts. In a study made by the Federal Bureau of Labor in the year 1908 from the juvenile court records of several of our larger cities it was found that much the largest percentage of juvenile delinquents were children who went to work too soon. Forty per cent of the children who caine before the juvenile courts of these cities came from two occupations in which children were employed. If space permitted we could quote interminably from people whose lives have been devoted to the welfare of children who agree on the proposition that children under 14 years of age should not be employed in mills, factories, and workshops, either during the school term or during vacation.
Miss Garrett advances the theory that the chronological test is not the best one. Many State laws provide that while 14 should be the minimum for the employment of children in factories, if a child is below the normal size and weight for a child of 14, this fact being left for a physician to say, and also whether the child is unfit for any physical reason for a particular employment, such child is not permitted to work. It is true that there are overgrown children of 14 years of age. There are exceptionally bright minors who are not allowed to vote. A general law can not deal with exceptional cases; and there is not so much hardship involved in the prohibtion of factory employment for overgrown children under 14 as there would be for the number of immature children that might be employed if a lower standard were fixed. And this limit has been agreed upon so universally not only in this country but in European States, because of the scientific fact that as a general thing it is the time in the life of a young girl when she has just passed the most critical period of her life, and it is the time in the life of a boy two years after the beginning of the period when his second rapid development starts. Certainly no girl under 16 should work more than eight hours a day.
I hardly think it worth while to argue further concerning the value of the 14-year age limit as a minimum for the employment of children in factories. With very much that both Miss Garrett and Mrs. Birney have to say concerning the training of children to habits of work and to skillfulness with their hands and fingers I am in hearty accord. I think there is no organization in the country which is more deeply interested in the problems of industrial education and of vocational direction than the National Child Labor Committee. Not long ago it devoted one of its annual conventions solely to the topic of child labor and education, and it has hardly ever had a meeting in which this phase of the question was not discussed. But we believe that the child under 14 should be kept out of competitive industry, that his work should be regarded not from the wage-earning standpoint but from the educational standpoint
solely. We are opposed to child exploitation. And we believe that the exploitation of children in factories, mines, and workshops must be abolished, as we hope it will be in large part ended by the passage of this bill, before we can take up the constructive part of our program, the education of all children industrially.
I notice that the chairman asked Mrs. Birney the question, “Do you know what Miss Lathrop thinks of this?” Mrs. Birney replied, * I do not know." I desire to call the attention of the committee to an extract from the testimony of Miss Julia C. Lathrop, Chief of the Children's Bureau, in favor of the Federal child-labor bill, given before the House Committee on Labor. I call especial attention to her testimony on pages 198–199 of the Senate hearings, which is as follows:
The CHAIRMAN. You are perhaps prepared to give an opinion upon a question like this: Do the medical authorities find it to be a fact that the stress of continuous labor, industrial labor, affects the growth of the child, the ordinary physical development of the child ?
Miss LATHROP. I think that all European and American authorities alike agree upon that. Of course, the labor of children is very largely surrounded by such other disadvantageous conditions outside of the factory as go to make the factory injury from impure air or overspeeding, even more disadvantageous to the child than if the child came from a happy and luxurious home, to which he or she returned, where health and comfort were preserved in every respect outside of the hours of labor.
The CHAIRMAN. What age or period of the child's life has been indicated by the physicians as the appropriate age at which labor could safely begin?
Miss LATHROP. I am not aware that there is any uniform decision by the medical profession on this matter, but I notice that every year those who study most carefully the growth and development of America push that age further and further ahead, whether they are educators or whether they are physicians, or whether they are interested in any form of civic improvement where the interests of the child are concerned.
Miss Lathrop has stated the philosophy of the movement for childlabor reform. The progress of the race itself is measured by the degree of the prolongation of the period of childhood. “To be a man too soon is to be a small man.' “ It is a shame for a nation to make its young girls weary."
The CHAIRMAN. At this point I desire to have placed in this hearing certain correspondence relating to the subject under discussion. (The correspondence is as follows:)
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C., February 19, 1916. Hon. FRANCIS G. NEWLANDS,
Chairman Interstate Commerce ('ommittee, United States Senate. DEAR SENATOR: Following up my conversation with you on the subject, I beg to inclose herewith a communication which has been transmitted to me by Mr. Landon Lowry, of Bedford City, Va., suggesting an amendment to the childlabor bill. Mr. Lowry is a gentleman of high standing in his community and is deeply interested in the matter. I understand that your committee will have a meeting on this bill perhaps the early part of the coming week, and I wish to invite your attention and the attention of your committee to this matter, so that it may have the consideration to which you may deem it entitled. Very sincerely, yours, .
THOMAS S. MARTIN.
BEDFORD CITY, VA., February 19, 1916. Hon. FRANCIS G. NEWLANDS,
Chairman Interstate Commerce Committee, I'nited States Senate. MY DEAR SIR: With reference to House bill 8234, known as the child-labor bill, I desire to request that the committee add an amendment to this bill which
will be in the interest of canners in the rural districts, and I would suggest the following proviso:
“ Provided, however, That nothing contained in this act shall apply to persons employed in factories in the rural or country districts engaged exclusively in packing fruits or vegetables between July 1 and October 1 of each year.”
This is a reasonable exception for the country districts by reason of the fact that there are a large number of canners scattered throughout these rural districts who are engaged almost exclusively in the packing of tomatoes, and the season usually begins about the middle or latter part of July and ends about the 1st of October. Hence the children are not deprived of school facilities. Furthermore, for these country canneries to operate they have to depend largely upon this class of labor. The parents of the children are usually engaged in farming, and they can not quit this occupation to work in the canning factory. These children make from $1 to $1.50 per day while employed, and they earn a sufficient amount to buy their winter clothing and schoolbooks. They are not paid by the hour or by the day but for the work they do; hence if they become tired they are not driven to overtax themselves but are at liberty to stop work if they desire.
The factories in which these children are employed are usually small buildings, work anywhere from 25 to 50 people, the majority of whom are women and children. It is practically all outdoor work, since the factories are constructed of planked-up buil(lings, in which there is plenty of fresh air.
The canning industry in Bedford County, Va., for the year 1915 amounted to the sum of $400,000. In the counties of Bedford, Roanoke, Botetourt, and Franklin it amounted to the sum of $1,000,000. The child labor employed in Bedford County under 14 years of age is estimated to be 750 children. In the four counties above mentioned it is estimated that there are 2,000 children employed, and, as has been stated above, if this class of labor were prevented from working in these factories it would in effect close these factories from operation by reason of the scarcity of labor in the rural districts. If the committee should deem it wise to incorporate in House bill 8234 the provision above referred to the canning industry will be greatly benefited, and no injurious effects will, in the opinion of the writer, result to children therefrom. The amendment suggested to this bill is practically the law of the State of Virginia as embodied in section 3657B of the Code of Virginia. Yours, very truly,
THE MERCHANTS' ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK, 233 Broadway, I'oolworth Building, New York, March 16, 1916. Hon. FRANCIS G. NEWLANDS, Chairman Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce,
Washington, D. C. MY DEAR SIR: The Keating child-labor bill (H. R. 8234) was considered by the board of directors of this association at a meeting held March 9, and the following resolution was unanimously adopted :
"Resolved, That the Merchants' Association of New York, while approving and urging the adoption by the sereral States of suitable laws for the effective regulation of child labor, protests against the Keating child-labor bill (H. R. 8234), believing that the regulations affecting conditions of production should properly be left to the discretion of the several States." Very truly, yours,
THE MERCHANTS' ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK, By S. C. MEAD, Secretary.
UNITED STATES SENATE,
March 20, 1916.
United States Senate, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR SENATOR: I inclose you a letter from Mr. J. R. Jones, secretary and treasurer of the Sanford Cotton Mills, of Sanford, N. C.
Mr. Jones desires this letter filed with your committee because he claims Miss Sinclair misrepresented the facts before the House committee with reference to his mill. Very truly, yours,
F. M. SIMMONS.
SANFORD COTTON MILLS,
Sanford, N. C., March 18, 1916. Hon. F. M. SIMMONS,
Washington, D. C. DEAR SIR: We received copy of the hearing before Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce and notice that our mill was one of the mills that Miss Sinclair gives as working children in violation of the State law.
Her report is very much incorrect, for some of them are young ladies that work in the weave room, others are 15, 16, and 17 years of age, and some that she names have never worked in the mill at all. Some that she claimed to have worked here for two years was only here for a few months. My superintendent says that if he has any idea that a child is too young he does not allow them to work until he questions their parents and has them to sign a certificate that the child is over 13 years of age. We would be very glad if the subcommittee of the Senate, if they visit any of the mills of the South, would visit our mill and see the conditions for themselves.
Please hand this to the committee and ask them to visit our mill. Would be glad for them to bring Miss Sinclair with them, so that she might see how erroneous her report was. Yours, very truly,
J. R. JONES, Secretary and Treasurer.
The honorable FRANCIS G. NEWLANDS,
United States Senate, Washington, D. C. SIR: Two women recently appeared before the Interstate Commerce Committee opposing the passage of the Keating-Owen child-labor bill. They claimed to represent 100,000 women of the National Congress of Mothers. They represent the national executive committee of five women (three of whom constitute a quorum), but are in no sense empowered to speak for the rank and file of the organization.
The undersigned are a committee of 600 women organized a year ago to oppose the very reactionary child-labor bill introduced into the Pennsylvania Legislature by Mrs. Frederic Schoff, president of the National Congress of Mothers. This bill allowed 54 hours a week and was indorsed by the manufacturing interest of the State, with whom Mrs. Schoff was closely allied, as only last week şhe sold 1,174 shares of her stock in the Kent Mills at Clifton Heights, Pa., a textile mill employing children.
Her bill was defeated partly through our efforts, and the Brumbaugh-Cox bill was passed.
We beseech you to give your vote in favor of the Keating-Owen bill, and not to believe that the organized motherhood of this country is opposed to it. (Signed) PHILADELPHIA MOTHERS' CLUB.
FRANKFORD MOTHERS' ('LUB.
ST. PAULS (COTTON MILL Co. (IXC.),
St. Pauls, N. C., Jarch 22, 1916. COMMITTEE ON INTERSTATE COMMERCE,
United States Senate, Washington, D. C. GENTLEMEN : Relative to a report that Miss Sinclair made stating that we were employing children under lawful age to work in our mill, we want to say that we have signed certificates from the parents of the children stating that they were of lawful age when employed by us. Yours, very truly,
ST. PAULS COTTON MILL Co., By A. R. McEACHERN.