As steady child labor reformers obtained traction throughout the last 4 minutes 1 of the 19th century, initiatives expanded at the state level come outlaw the employed of tiny children. The relocate toward state-level reforms showed challenging. Countless states, specifically in the South, stood up to the effort. Frequently, kid labor law opponents denied the trouble existed and aggressively extolled the virtues of kids in the workplace. This foiled the score of afford uniform laws throughout the nation through state action. The failures at the state level caused numerous reformers through the beforehand 1900s to think that a federal law could be the ideal option. The minimal role that the federal federal government under the Constitution, however, made together a possibility difficult. Numerous constitutional experts, Congressmen, and also Presidents thought such a legislation was unconstitutional. In the confront of extensive public support for curtailing child labor, a law based upon the commerce Clause that the Constitution—giving congress the authority to control commerce in between states or with foreign nations—was passed in 1916. This post concentrates top top the reform activity up through the i of that law.

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I am glad to check out there is going to it is in a meeting here for son labor. I am really tired of see so many big children ten year old play in the streets.1—Prominent lady citizen

Don’t take it these guys away native us! We have actually just bought this uniforms, and also they were made come order.2—Shopkeeper in Cleveland, Ohio

There is a street in Lawrence, MA, called Camella Teoli Way. To understand the story of how that street became named is to understand the story the a struggle. The battle of Camella Teoli is one of a young Italian immigrant that started job-related in a mill and ultimately spoke prior to Congress.3 Teoli’s battle is a battle against child labor.4

The windy story that Camella Teoli begins and ends with the 14-year-old’s testimony to congress in in march 1912. There, in former of an audience including Helen Taft, the mam of President wilhelm Howard Taft, Teoli told her story.5 Teoli was an employee of the American Woolen company in Lawrence, MA. Together a result of a new state law, the maximum working hrs in the mill were reduced from 56 to 54 per week because that women and also children.6 Mill owners sped up the makers in bespeak to consist of for the much shorter workweek.7 In protest over the quicker rate of production and also the commensurate palliation in pay, mill workers—adults and children—walked out on strike. Violence between strikers, instead of workers, police, and soldiers prospered as the strike, which came to be known together the Lawrence Textile Strike, walk on. To produce publicity for your cause and to certain the safety of your children, plenty of strikers sent their children out of town. While the youngsters were embraced with open arms in cities like brand-new York, embarrassed Lawrence officials inquiry parents store their children in Lawrence. As soon as the next group of children prepared come depart the train station, they to be met through police and soldiers. The police refuse to permit them plank the trains and also launched an strike on the group. A 7-year-old was provided a black eye once she was picked up and also thrown right into a paddy wagon through police. An additional witness testified to kids being thrown about like rags. Citizens throughout the nation were horrified by the events.8




As a result of the outcry end the confrontation in Lawrence, a federal investigation into the strike began at once. A delegation the adult and child strikers was sent to Washington, DC. President Taft request to watch the children. The strikers testified prior to a residence of representatives committee looking right into the events.9 if the testimony focused on the origins of the strike and also subsequent violence, the most lasting impression was made by Camella Teoli.

Teoli explained to the committee the over a year earlier, a man came up to the house and also spoke to she father. She had actually been attending school and the guy asked she father why she didn’t work. Her father defined that he was unsure whether she to be 13 or 14 years old. The man replied that for $4 he can get papers comparable to those indigenous the “old country” that claimed she to be 14. Her father paid the $4 and also she was sent out off come work.10 A just 2 weeks into her time at the mill, however, things went dreadful wrong. Together she called the committee, one day, close to the finish of she shift, she hair came to be entangled in a machine and a section of her scalp had been take it off. She spent 7 month in the hospital and also was quiet undergoing clinical treatment. Her father to be arrested because that falsifying she age. The mill, though, was most likely clear native liability due to the fact that Camella to be illegally working as one underage minor.11

The story of Camella Teoli attracted widespread attention throughout the country. The visibility of the very first Lady Helen Taft at the hearing helped heighten awareness of the issue. The hearing, though, was no a turning point in the movement versus child labor. No seminal event adjusted public perceptions no one turned the tide versus the use of kids as laborers. Rather, the battle was long, with many victories and failures along the way. Teoli’s story the injury, false documents, and parental and mill-owner apathy is emblematic that the larger fight versus child labor.

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The initial move against sending children out of the home to labor on your own has its origins well prior to Camella Teoli and the Lawrence Textile Strike. In England in ~ the revolve of the 19th century, the movement toward son labor regulation was the tough work that a few reformers. They, prefer the later on reformers in the unified States, challenged obstacles. Manufacturers declared that if child labor were eliminated, they would be bankrupted. Mr. Justice Grose, an early English son labor revolutionary advocate, answered these charges as soon as he remarked, in 1801 top top sentencing a guy for overworking his young apprentices, “If the manufacturers urge that there is no these youngsters they might not advantageously follow their trade, he must say that trade need to not because that the benefits of filthy lucre, it is in followed, yet at once, because that the sake of society, it is in abandoned.”12

Child labor was no abandoned expeditiously in the united States, either. A lengthy movement first needed to take it place. Rather than being based on a desire to remove the bad conditions youngsters toiled in, the movement was initially fueled by involves over the absence of education the toiling kids received. The brand-new England each other of Puritanism thought both in a strong work ethic and also that salvation was achieved through a good understanding that the Bible. The last belief, of course, required that children be able to read. Secularists similarly valued education as a fundamental necessity to achieve an education citizenry; to Secularists, education was fundamental to democracy.13

A emphasis on these issues led the Connecticut legislative branch to pass a legislation in 1813 requiring that kids working in factory be educated in reading, writing, and also arithmetic.14 in spite of facing arguments that such regulations were contrary to the parents’ right to raise their kids as they pleased, by 1850, three more states passed comparable laws.15

An 1836 nationwide Trades’ Union convention was the an initial body to call for a minimum period for factory workers.16 In response to the increasing call for legislative intervention, Massachusetts in 1842 minimal the workday for kids under age 12 come 10 hours. Connecticut action similarly, but applied the law to children under age 14.17 by the finish of the 1840s, every brand-new England state had actually a kid labor law.18 this states consisted of age limits ranging from 9 to 14. These regulations, however, were reasonably limited.19 Generally, this laws and also those happen in the following years had tiny impact ~ above the exercise of kid labor. Many of the laws consisted of exceptions that enabled younger youngsters to work-related with parental consent, and some allowed the hour constraints to be surpassed if the extr work was voluntary.20 Furthermore, if it might seem weird now, well into the at an early stage 20th century it was not uncommon for youngsters to it is in unaware the their very own ages.21 This was an especially true in rural southern areas22 and among immigrants.23 Without any structured type of records, the best and sometimes just documentary evidence could be a notation that the birth in the family members Bible.24 This absence of documentary evidence made requiring proof of period for employed difficult.25

While throughout most of the 19th century boy welfare establishments were primarily pertained to with the problem of idle and also vagrant children,26 things changed toward the finish of that century. Data indigenous the 1870 census worrying the number of child laborers spurred the first widespread recognition of the problem.27

The publicly was starting to become aware of the problems under which kids labored, and also politicians slowly started to take notice. In 1872, the barred Party ended up being the first political party to incorporate in its nationwide platform a provision the condemned the usage of children in industry.28 This allude of view, though, was not a extensive one. Two years later, in 1874, at least 20 people, many young girls, part as young together 5, were eliminated in a fire at the Granite Mill in fall River, MA.29 Young girls were melted alive, suffocated, or eliminated in a futile attempt to run to safety. The story of the fire made headlines across the country. Surprisingly, the story of why there to be so many youngsters in the mill walk not. Rather, editorials generally focused on a call for better fire-safety actions in stimulate to stop future disasters. While the Chicago Tribune lamented the truth that for this reason many youngsters had come toil in such conditions, the paper proposed do the workplace much more secure for children as the solution. One Massachusetts resident, however, wonder why the mill to be filled v children. His solution: “Take the youngsters out the the mills.”30

Between 1885 and 1889, stories choose this led 10 claims to happen minimum age laws, while 6 set maximum working hours for children.31Despite these brand-new laws in part states, the variety of child workers in the unified States continued to increase.32 In 1890, an ext than 18 percent of children ages 10 to 15 were employed.33 back by 1900 legislations in the phibìc curtailed child labor to an extent, the exercise of kid labor was extensive in the South.34 primarily as a result of efforts in the North, enrollment of children throughout the country in secondary schools boosted 150 percent native 1890 to 1900. Throughout this very same period, the population increased just 21 percent.35 Compulsory education laws were widely enacted outside of the South during the post–Civil battle period.36

Early 20th century revolutionary efforts

The start of the 20th century was the time as soon as reform efforts came to be widespread.37 from 1902 to 1906, nationwide magazines released 69 posts under the heading of “child labor,” while just a handful were penned in the previous 5-year period.38 Although reversal in some cases admitted there to be a require for boy labor, they hoped that even the southern was becoming well-developed sufficient to eliminate its children from the factories. Reformers posited that the long hrs of premature birth toil and the deprivation of education and learning caused a litany of health and wellness problems.39 together Stephen B. Lumber pointed out, the reformers’ assumptions began the process by i m sorry the public changed from viewing boy labor together a “beneficent society institution” come viewing it together an institution with the stigma of gift “an unrighteous and harmful an effect of commercial capitalism, damaging to the child and also community.”40 despite this gradual readjust in the public at large, the reformers, in search change, were opposed by parents, industry, and, in some cases, even the youngsters themselves.

The first noted proponent of kid labor regulation in the south was Edgar Gardner Murphy, one Arkansas clergyman.41 He founded the national Child job Committee (NCLC) in 1904 and attempted to organize assistance for boy labor restrictions among mill operators. The year prior, Murphy offered what was later on widely described as “the greatest speech against child job ever” to the nationwide Conference of Charities and also Correction. In the speech, he called for a “crusade” to achieve uniform legislation against the angry of child labor. Due to the fact that of the varying conditions amongst the states, he did not speak to for a federal law. He believed such a law would it is in “inadequate if no unfortunate.” Instead, he sought to create the NCLC together a nationwide organization that would assistance state-based efforts to pass legislation.42 The NCLC, as one of its early efforts, drew up a design child labor bill copying the best features uncovered in steady states. The bill had a minimum working age of 14 for manufacturing and also 16 because that mining. Furthermore, it mentioned a preferably workday of 8 hours, compelled proof of age, and outlawed night work.43