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died are of such comparatively recent growth that the most striking evils of child labor have not had time to develop themselves so as to attract the attention of the community at large. It is always a more difficult matter to create healthy public sentiment for the enactment of a law that provides against a future peril than it is to arouse a storm of indignant protest against an evil that has become flagrant and notorious and constantly faunts itself in the face of every citizen. There are hundreds of thousands of our people who have never seen a cotton mill, and many hundred thousand more who have never been inside a factory gate.
Another serious difficulty in arousing public opinion is the fact that many of the mills are managed by men of a humane and just spirit, and actuated by high convictions of duty. Mills controlled by such men have been brought to the front in every public discussion of the evils of child labor, so that in view of the conditions shown to exist in these mills many of the best citizens have concluded that the picture of the evils of child labor has been largely overdrawn, forgetting that the law is never made for the righteous, but the law-breaker.
Terrible as are the evils of child labor, and for one I would not minimize them for one moment, or turn a deaf ear to the cry of one of God's oppressed little ones, the textile industry at the South is yet in its infancy, and the true peril of the situation is in the danger that the evil should so root itself in this new industry as to prevent for many years the enactment of efficient laws on the subject, or that the factories should have been so built up on the shoulders of the children that their removal would prove disastrous to the industry itself.
Taking the statistics of the last census, there were at work in the mills of the South in 1900 only 24,170 children under sixteen years of age-a number smaller than in the factories of the single state of Pennsylvania, yet during the decade ending in 1900 while the number of children at work in other sections of the country under sixteen years of age
decreased about 50 per cent., in the Southern states the number of such children increased to an alarming extent.
In Georgia during the decade 18901900 the number of children under sixteen at work in the mills increased from 2,400 to 4,500; in Alabama from 501 to 2,438 (386 per cent.); in South Carolina from 2,153 to 8,110; in North Carolina from 2,071 to 7,129. The report of the Commissioner of Labor for this lastnamed state indicates that in the last four years this number has been increased to something like 15,000.
The above statistics must be qualified by the statement that the number of factories built in these states in the period under consideration has increased in about the same proportion as the increase in the number of children employed. This, however, is the real peril of our situation, the enormous growth of the factories in the rural districts, demanding every year more and more of the children of the land.
The statistics given, it should be noted, are for children "under sixteen," and, as the legal age limit in textile states is twelve, they do not show the number of children employed contrary to law.
Legislation in these states must also not be estimated merely by certain technical requirements for an effective law. Public opinion in the South is somewhat slow to respond, but when once awakened is resistless in its power, and there has been in many parts of the Carolinas and Alabama a response to this awakened power
more far-reaching in its effects upon the children than have been the technically far more stringent statutes in such states, for example, as Pennsylvania.
In Alabama and North Carolina the laws against child labor were adopted as the result of an agreement entered into by the mill men with the friends of the measure, and were based upon their solemn pledge that they would faithfully comply with the letter of the law. That in numerous instances they have failed to do so is undoubtedly true, but that the statutes have resulted in the freeing of many children from the imprisonment of the factory and protecting many others is borne out by ample proofs.
In North Carolina the mill men have pleaded successfully their compliance with the law as a bar to more effective legislation. Such a plea does not meet the needs of the situation, but that it could be made and partially sustained is proof that the law is more effective than would be indicated by a mere reading of its provisions.
in the interests of the commonwealth and the child.
The most stubborn opposition to child labor legislation has been met in this traditional antipathy of the South to everything that savors of paternalism, and the significance of the legislation so far secured is undoubtedly to be found not so much in the scope and efficiency of the laws themselves, as in the establishment of the principle that the rights of the state in and over the child are para mount even to the rights of the parent where the welfare of the child is at stake. To those who appreciate the true condition of affairs in the South this has been an enormous gain that can scarcely be overestimated.
INABILITY OF THE SOUTH TO PROVIDE FOR
One of the inducements offcred to investors of capital in the southern mills is the practical immunity of these mills from interference by labor agitations by the labor unions, which in some sections have proved disastrous to the industry. So far the cotton factories of the South have been largely unhampered by strikes.
In some instances I think it is possible that opposition to efforts looking to a permanent betterment of the condition of the operatives has been due to recognition of the well-known relation between the elevation of a laboring class financially and intellectually, and the introduction of the forces of organized labor.
In Alabama the apprehension of the mill men that the child labor law was but the entering wedge of unionism was used as an argument to convince them of the importance of agreeing to the proposed legislation and of faithfully complying with the law. It was pcinted @ut that nothing could so strengthen the cause of organized labor in the South as its alliance with the cause of innocent, helpless and wronged childhood against the oppression of the capitalist.
It has been universally recognized by those who realize the difficulties inherent in laws that attempt to protect the child by certificates concerning age, that one of the best methods of securing the object aimed at in the legislation is a com- : pulsory educational law.
When it is recalled that of the 579,947 children in the United States between the ages of ten and fourteen who cannot read and write, 479,000 of the number are in the Southern states, and 232,127 (40 per cent.) in the four textile statesGeorgia, Alabama and the two Carolinas --it will be at once seen that here is the largest opportunity afforded anywhere in the country for the elevation of the standard of life by education, as well as the greatest temptation to capital to impose upon the child, in addition to the burden of illiteracy, an enfeebled and dwarfed body.
The South has been fearfully handicapped in her efforts to meet the prob
ms created by the illiteracy of her people. “A double system of public education has been with all its burdens and with its varied difficulties, the inevitable and unchanging issue of our problem of population. With the gravest problems of our civilization challenging her existence and her peace, the South has been expected to assume the task of the edu
ANTIPATHY TO PATERNALISM.
Inasection where local self-government has been most jealously guarded for generations at the cost of blood and treasure it is to be expected that there should obtain also a high theory of the rights of the individual. It cannot surprise the student therefore to find this individualism running to an extreme in the denial of the right of the state to interfere between employer and employe
cation of two populations out of the pov labor laws should at the same time be at erty of one."
work in New England in making the Her response to the exigencies of such laws in the states more effective still.” a condition has been one of the heroic It is a fact of history that the protecfeatures of the history of her people tion of the children is one of the most during the past quarter of a century in potent of the economic factors in the inher efforts to overtake the educational dustrial development of a people, and if destitution of her rural population -- the jealousy of New England should reefforts that must be neutralized if the sult in the protection of all the children rapidly increasing factories are to be al of the South nothing could prove a lowed through the greed of capital and greater boon to every interest of her the shiftlessness of parents, to shut out people. from the school room, within the walls The mill men in New England are of the mills, thousands of the neediest urging that the age limit in those states and most promising of her children. should not be raised, because they then
With the greatest educational prob could not compete with Georgia, which lem of modern civilization thrust upon has no law against child labor. The mill her, it has not been possible for the men in Georgia claim that the attempt South to provide for the compulsory ed to secure legislation in those states is ucation of all her children, and the op due to the influence of the New England ponents of child labor laws have ever mills, while in the two Carolinas and Alabeen quick to seize upon this fact, hiding bama the proximity of Georgia, with no their hostility to the legislation by a regulation of child labor, is pleaded as loud protestation of zeal for the cause reason why existing statutes should of education.
not be enforced. It was somewhat of a revelation in Al After all has been said, it must at last abama two years ago to find that the be recognized that the inducements very people who were opposing a child the South has to offer to the capitalist labor law, "unless a provision making desiring to invest in mill property are the education of the children compulsory her splendid water power, salubrious was attached," were at the same time climate, proximity to the cotton fields, viciously fighting all efforts to provide cheapness of fuel, and freedom from lafor local taxation for school purposes - bor troubles, and not the sacrifice of her a measure which offered the only hope children upon the altar of greed. for such an increase of the public school funds as to make compulsory education feasible.
I have tried thus to give a frank and accurate interpretation of the present status of this legislation in the Southern
States, and to present as candidly as posEvery effort to secure legislation pro sible the situation as it exists, but I tecting the child has been met by the would sound note of pessimism. persistent and bitter commercial rivalry Whereas in older manufacturing between the different states engaged in munities legislation for the protection of the manufacture of cotton goods.
child life has been a matter of slow It has been repeatedly charged that growth and marked by the many misthe efforts to secure child labor legisla takes and failures of social experiments, tion in the South have been inspired by in the South the cotton manufacturing the jealousy on the part of the New Eng industry has almost with its birth land mills of the growing prosperity of brought our people to a consciousness of the South. To which it may well be their obligation to the coming generanswered, “Why, herein is a marvelous ation. thing, that influences alleged to be try In the bills presented in more recent ing to injure the southern manufactur legislatures the accumulated wisdom of ing industry by securing effective child the century has been drawn upon, and
though, as in North Carolina, such measures may for a time fail of enactment into law, through the influence of the professional lobbyist, the interested capitalist and the indifferentism of the people, no one familiar with the history of the modern industrial world can doubt that the pressure of the moral judgment of civilization must at last make itself felt with resistless force.
Though the enactment of the most effective legislation comes somewhat more tardily than we could desire, it is a matter of sincere congratulation that this legislation has reached a more advanced stage of development at this period of the industrial life of the South, and that the southern people are passing on to the period of effective legislation with less of blood-guiltiness than any other section of country in the industrial life of modern times.
In conclusion I venture to suggest:
(1) That for states with such manifestly similar economic conditions as obtain in the Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama there should be a continuance of the effort to secure so far as possible uniformity in the laws protecting the children.
(2) That in view of the number of humane and just men interested in the manufacture of cotton in the South, constant effort should be put forth to win the support and sympathy of these men for a movement in line with the noblest endeavors of their lives. To this end legislation proposed should be wise and conservative, characterized by a full recognition of the stage of the industrial development of the section, and so far as consistent with the protection of the children, containing such provisions as will give the factories abundant time to adapt themselves to the improved conditions.
Overdrawn pictures of conditions that are abnormal are just as imperfect a presentation of the case against child labor as is the exhibition of the prize mill with its schools, kindergartens and libraries an illustration of the average mill. After all has been said the facts of the situation, and the facts alone, can secure an intelligent and sustained public interest without which no. law can be made effective.
The people of the South are not unlike the people in other sections, and iniquitous conditions cannot long maintain themselves in the presence of a wellinformed public opinion.
(3) Laws protecting the girls under fourteen years of age are most needed just now, and most likely to secure favorable consideration at the hands of the representatives of the people.
(4) Wherever practicable, proof of age should be required to be supplemented by a standard of physical efficiency, and in all cases there should be required for children under twelve years of age, a certificate showing that they can read and write, signed not by the parent or guardian alone, but by the principal or teacher in some public school, residing in the county where the factory is located. These certificates should be required to be filed in a public place where access may be obtained to them by all interested parties, and failure so
to file them made a misdemeanor
(5) An inspector for factories, mills and mines should be proivded in every state, and this officer appointed by the governor, and empowered to enter any factory or manufacturing plant or mine, required to render bi-annually a public report to the governor, and to report to the county solicitor and grand jury every violation of the law.
CONDITIONS ON THE ISTHMUS OF PANAMA.
FROM "THE BRICKLAYER AND MASON' FOR SEPTEMBER, 1905.
We returned from Panama with Mr. W. C. Nazro, the widely known “welfare expert," on August 8th, our visit covering a period of three weeks. Though our going was widely published by the press, we will say that the object of the Canal Commission in sending us there was to inquire into the needs of the employes for recreation. We are not at liberty, of course, to anticipate our report. We can state, however, from our personal knowledge that the commission is sincere in its promise to do every reasonable thing to insure the comfort of the men engaged in digging the Canal.
The former commission did not concern itself with any such question, bending all its energies toward “making the dirt fly.” Hardly were the shovels at work when the utter folly of this policy manifested itself. Brought far from their homes, placed in a most unfamiliar environment, with but little preparation for sheltering and feeding them, men took sick, and all was chaos. Many of those who had the means to return home did so.
It is because of these conditions that the common impression of the Isthmus exists.
That the present commission is not inclined to repeat this mistake is 'found in its determination that the work of housing, feeding and generally caring for the employes is to be given precedence. Unlike its predecessor, this commission realizes that the health and general welfare of the men will to a practically unlimited degree determine the progress of the work on the canal.
While it purposes to build club houses and to install other means of recreation, the commission with commendable judgment has decided to provide first for the more urgent necessities of the employes. Already contracts have been closed for the installation of refrigerating plants upon two of the steamers, and for two on the Isthmus, one at Panama and the other at Colon.
With these completed, the food supply should be vastly improved, making the fare of the employes, of
which there has been much warranted complaint, more comparable with what they had been accustomed to at home. In order to make more abundant the food supply now obtainable, an order was recently issued providing for the opening of sub-commissaries. test made by Isthmian merchants against this expansion of the commissary department will have no influence with a commission resolved to give consideration to humanity first rather than to material results, or that at least recognizes that without attention given the first the other cannot be had. These storekeepers can no longer charge extortionate prices; their day for bleeding the men has passed.
Notwithstanding this and other evidence of its capability even this commission has been made the subject of no little criticism. While criticism is very often helpful, and while no government employe, individual or corporate, should be above it, much of it in this case is totally unwarranted. It should be remembered that the work undertaken on the Isthmus of Panama is the greatest ever undertaken by man. The Suez Canal and De Lessep's attempt to transcend his first great achievement offer little that can be of help in the solution of many of the problems involved. The Canal as a proposition is unique, the conditions abnormal. Those critics whose conclusions are based upon the wild stories so often told by employes and others who have left the Isthmus should change their tune. To hear
many of these self-constituted commentators talk one might think that the two continents could be severed with a cross-cut saw.
The commission should have the hearty support of every citizen who is proud of his country and who feels a patriotic concern in its reputation. The eyes of the world are upon us at Panama. And at home powerful railroad interests still hope for the abandonment of the project.
The work of sanitation has made fine progress in the past nine months, and the