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our more fortunate social and industrial condition reminds us that the South especially is in need of our consideration and sympathy in its less fortunate state, and this, I wish to assure you, is our attitude of mind toward this section of our beloved country.
I might give an instance of our own experience in Denver within the last three or four years as showing that human selfishness is very much the same in every part of our country when “business interests” conflict with the children's interest. Some fifteen years ago, in the very shadow of the Rocky Mountains, there was built a great cotton mill. It was a rather peculiar thing in our industrial development that cotton mills should be built away out there, but New England people who initiated the enterprise could see the cotton fields of Texas a great deal closer to their back doors than were those of Georgia or South Carolina to the mills of Massachusetts. This was before the sudden and rapid change of the last few years when the cotton mills began to spring up in the fields of the Southern states. This transformation had not been taken into account. But when it came competition became fiercer, and the cotton miils of Colorado, to compete with those of South Carolina, must forsooth move some of South Carolina's social conditions to the foothills of Colorado. Agents were employed whose business it was to import into Colorado dozens of families from the poorer classes of Alabama and the Carolinas, and with them, of course, came the children; in fact, they were the inducement for this sort of emigration; the more children the surer the contract with the wily agent to live within sight of Pike's Peak and the snow-capped Rockies. And thus it came to pass a few years ago that you could journey by trolley car from Denver to the cotton mills in which, once enclosed, you might well imagine you had been transported two thousand miles into one of the Southern States. There were the boys and girls, ten, eleven and twelve years of age, working in violation of the laws of the state in order that “prosperity" might still flourish amidst these whirring
spindles in the West.
Those who protested were denounced, by those who believed in “prosperity,”
mischief makers for the destruction of a great industry. Should a successful enterprise of ten years' standing. be permitted to fail when all that was necessary was a duplication as far as possible of conditions which it was said accounted for its success in other sections ?
Of course, my friends, we accounted this as all “bluff." I think Miss Addams and Mrs. Florence Kelley have shown by the example of Illinois, especially in the glass industries, that this argument about child labor being necessary for the success of any industrial enterprise is without foundation. The reserve strength of the nation for tomorrow is with these children of today. No one living has more eloquently exemplified this truth than these two great champions of the children of this nation, and whatever the fact may have been when the men at the head of this institution said they could not compete with the South unless they could work under the conditions that obtained in the South, our people said that argument was a purely commercial one at best, and, to tell you frankly, we believed a fallacious one, since if those mills could not survive we were certain the real cause was not to be found in the sacrifice of the children, but in economic conditions for which surely the children were not responsible. In any event, we said: “You have no industrial enterprise of benefit to our people if it is to be at the sacrifice of the bodies and souls of little children, and the fact that those children are the children of South Carolina or Alabama does not alter the case--they are just as dear to us as the children of our own state, and Colorado will protect them if it means that Colorado must smash your mill;" and so we said: “You take those children out of the mills, and whether you shut down or continue to run is a matter of secondary importance.'' And they took the children out and the mills went to smash, and while most of us have serious doubts if it could be attributed to "the poor little kids," at the same time we were prepared to concede
that and all it cost if it meant the redemption of little children from industrial slavery. We put the child above the dollar. They
greatest wealth. Not all the gold and silver in the depths of our great mountains are half so valuable as these little ones, and that was the reason that the president of the mill, the foreman and the superintendent were prosecuted in the courts and suffered the extreme penalty of the
tomorrow, who refuse to see or acknowledge this truth. The future of our country depends a great deal more upon the kind of children we are rearing today, how well their little bodies are shaped and their morals directed than upon how much business we have or how much gold is yielded.
The child labor laws in most of the Western states are generally well enforced. The enforcement of the law we all realize is just as important as the law itself, and in many states having a child labor law this question presents an even more serious difficulty than that of no
And yet, my friends, property rights are neither depreciated or disrespected by high regard for human rights. On
the contrary, just in proportion as we
law at all. In fact many states which
to reproach those boasting of the law upon the statute books, but which give it the lie by nonenforcement.
In Colorado we have a compulsory education law keeping every child in school until his sixteenth year unless he has completed the eighth grade of the grammar school. Our schools are in session throughout the state from September to June. The child labor law forbids
employment in factories, mines, mills, their labor at the age of twelve and thiror occupation dangerous to health where teen, and pointing to their own example the child is under fourteen years of age, of success in life, they feel they have deand not over eight hours under sixteen molished the whole argument against years of age, or at all if the employment even child slavery. The conditions unbe dangerous to health. Between the der which they labored and lived are so ages of fourteen and sixteen, if the school different from those which the average law has been complied with, the child city child is compelled to endure that we may be employed for over eight hours really find very few such cases of any in an occupation that is not dangerous value to the arguments for child labor. to health. This question must first be Their conditions were so favorable they determined by the juvenile courts, which rather strengthen our plea for more incorrespond to the county courts and dustrial education. The success of an exist in each county in the state. Proper exceptional case under hard conditions application may be made to the court has been, not because of such conditions, when the case is heard and permission but in spite of them. I firmly believe granted upon conditions satisfactory to in work even in childhood. By this, I the court and in the interest of the child. mean the right kind of work. It is not This provision has tended to make the so much a question of work as the amount law, we think, more practical and satis of work, the kind of work and the confactory than it might be were no excep ditions under which that work is pertions permitted. Especially is this true formed. This need not lessen our bewhere the age limit is sixteen as with us. lief in happiness in childhood. I want I would not recommend it if the age to say very candidly, that there are a limit was either twelve or fourteen.
great number of children in this country the children's laws of Colorado are en from fourteen years of age upward about forced in one court. These laws com whom I feel more alarmed at their failure prise generally those relating to compul to do or to know how to do any kind of sory education, child labor, juvenile de useful work than of any possibility of pendency, juvenile delinquency and the their being overworked. laws holding parents and others respon In our zeal for the protection of chilsible for the dependency and delinquency dren subjected to extreme or unnatural of children. We believe that this meth conditions, we must not lose sight of the od offers a system of effectiveness in law dangers and difficulties of idleness. enforcement which could not otherwise There are thousands of boys in the cities be well obtained. The Woman's Club of this country who, if not employed at of Denver, always keen, alert, interested some useful thing, are generally on the and active in behalf of the children of streets or in the alleys, in the downtown our city, under the leadership of our public pool rooms and bowling alleys, distinguished citizen and member of the engaged not always in wholesome play, National Child Labor Committee, Mrs. but too often in idling, cigarette smoking Sarah Platt Decker, instituted an elabor and dirty story telling, with absolutely ate investigation during the past year no thought of work or the serious side with reference to child labor in Denver of life. They are too constantly OCespecially, and reported it most satis cupied with thoughts of “having a good factory from every standpoint. Their time," and some rather perverted noreport in full was sent to Miss Addams, tions of what a good time is.
Too many of Hull House, and by her, I am told, of our bɔys epecially reach the age of pronounced most satisfactory. I think moral and legal responsibility without Miss Addams has pointed out on several the slightest conception of work. They occasions the fallacy and weakness of are too often more concerned as to how many of the old stock arguments we much they earn than how well they do hear from some of our conservative their work. In dealing with a certain business men in favor of child labor. class of youth in the juvenile court, I With swelling pride they often tell us of say without hesitation that the most
hopeless fellow in the world is the boy who will not work—the boy who has not learned how to work, or the value and importance of work. There is always hope for the boy who works, especially the boy who likes to work. I believe in the "strenuous life," and I think its importance should be taught our boys and girls at an early age.
There are too many young people in this country looking for “the life of ignoble ease." say all of this to persons sincerely interested in the protection of the children from degradation or unnatural labor,
work if given any kind of an encouraging opportunity. The lack of a chance is often responsible for idleness. Ninetysix per cent. of our boys and girls are forced out of the grammar school to fight the battles of life. They must have a chance to earn a living under such reasonably favorable conditions as not to destroy all chance of happiness or else they must become idlers and loafers. My own experience is that our common school education too often fails to equip them for earning more than the most scanty wages. An opportunity between
and yet not be understood as depreciating the importance of wise child labor laws and their rigid enforcement for the protection of the children of the Union. But we must be careful in doing this never to underestimate the importance of work,—the right kind of work, a certain amount of work,-in the life of every child, and especially that teaching which inculcates good impressions in the life of every child as to the necessity and importance of labor. On the other hand, my experience is that most boys will
the sixth and eighth grades in our city schools for children of the toiling masses to learn some kind of useful trade or valuable work with the hands—to learn to do what their fathers do-is a reform in our educational system which the champions of child labor must, in my opinion, espouse if they would round out a systematic and consistent plan of battle in this fight for the salvation of the children. I want to see the time come in this country when a boy of fourteen years of age up may be a valuable
help to the plumber, the carpenter or And yet, I am compelled to say to you, the printer at a decent wage, instead of that such is the condition in this going to the messenger service and the country. street. I do not believe that juvenile la- I see wonderful changes just ahead of bor should trespass upon the legitimate us in our educational system that are occupations of men and women, but we bound to come if we are to make progress. must equip these children for some kind Our good friend and honored secretary of industrial efficiency and usefulness, of the National Child Labor Committee, or enlarge our reformatories and prisons Dr. Samuel M. Lindsay, distinguished for their care and maintenance. One of himself in his work as superintendent of the saddest things in my experience as education in the Island of Porto Rico. judge of the juvenile court has been the I note that one of the causes of his suclittle fellows who have requested me to cess, it seems to me, was an innovation send them to the reform school in order in teaching those children of our island that they might learn a trade. The possessions to do what their fathers did, principal of a school once said to me: and thus under favorable conditions “Judge, why don't you send that boy capacitating them to become useful and to the reform school so that he can learn efficient citizens of tomorrow. a trade?" On hehalf of the boy, I re- And in the great West, my friends, we plied: “In God's name, why don't you are agitating and striving more and people on the Board of Education give more, not only to save the children from him an opportunity to learn a trade at the wrong kind of work at the wrong home?" I ask you, is it fair, just or time and under wrong conditions, but at decent that in most of the cities of this the same time to prepare them for the country an American boy has no oppor- right kind of work at the right time and tunity to learn a trade, to capacitate under right conditions that the citizens himself for joyous, useful work with his of tomorrow may work for and be worthy hands, unless he commits crime? of the highest ideals of the republic.
METHODS OF ENFORCEMENT IN NORTHERN CENTRAL STATES.
HALFORD ERICKSON, COMMISSIONER OF LABOR, WISCONSIN.
The enforcement of child-labor laws honest belief that child labor was necesis, in effect, an attempt to reconcile by sary for the continuance of their busilaw two apparently diverging economic ness, together with the natural opposition interests. The child-labor problem has of the employes who considered such been coexistent with the growth of man- laws as an infrigement upon their perufacturing and early required the at- sonal liberty and privileges, made diffitention of state legislatures. Half a cult the enactment of proper laws, and century ago child-labor laws were found because of which enforcement was pracon the statute books of some of the tically impossible. With
the rapid Northern and Central states. These growth of manufacturing in these states early efforts were crude and ineffective, public opinion and the majority of the but they formed the nucleus of the pres- employers have come to understand the ent fairly comprehensive systems, which necessity and eminent fairness of rehave to a large extent allayed the evils strictive legislation. of child labor.
The development of the child labor From the outset these laws have had laws has been in many instances a series to contend with a large variety of deter- of compromises. Nearly every step ring influences. Manufacturers with the forward was gained by the sacrifice, ever increasing desire for high profits, temporarily at least, of some provision the lack of sympathy for the laboring which in that respect was a regressive classes, and, in many instances, the movement, so determined was the oppo