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Child Labor in the U.S. and Britain during the Industrial Revolution Parallels and Contrasts.

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Presentation on theme: "Child Labor in the U.S. and Britain during the Industrial Revolution Parallels and Contrasts."— Presentation transcript:

1 Child Labor in the U.S. and Britain during the Industrial Revolution Parallels and Contrasts

2 Child Labor: the Lucky Ones Child labor was a national disgrace during the Gilded Age. The lucky ones swept the trash and filth from city streets or stood for hours on street corners hawking newspapers.

3 Child Labor: the Less Fortunate The less fortunate coughed constantly through 10-hour shifts in dark, damp coal mines or sweated to the point of dehydration while tending fiery glass- factory furnaces.

4 A Matter of Survival By and large, these child laborers were the sons and daughters of poor parents or recent immigrants who depended on their children's meager wages to survive. But they were also the offspring of the rapid, unchecked industrialization that characterized large American cities as early as the 1850s.

5 In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, child labor was used throughout the world, particularly in industrializing countries. Britain was the first country to be industrialized. Child labor there was primarily used in the textile industry. The U.S. borrowed many ideas from the British during the Industrial Revolution.

6 In Britain, the first rural textile mills were built, and children were a major part of the workforce. Manchester and Lancashire were the first towns to establish a factory system. Britain USA

7 Britain USA In the U.S., Samuel Slater opened the first mill in Pawtucket, RI Samuel Slater, a British immigrant, is considered the “Father of American Industrial Revolution,” because he built the first water powered textile mill in the U.S.. He modeled his factory system on the British system Old%20slater%20mill.jpg

8 Britain USA In Britain, 51.2% of children under the age of eighteen worked in the textile mills and 20% of children under the age of thirteen Photographed by Lewis Hine:

9 Britain USA In the U.S., people started to question child labor, but laws were not established until much later bp.blogspot.com/.../ Child+Labor+Coal+Mines.jpg

10 Britain USA In Britain: 1.Until the Factory Act of 1833, the factory owners decided how long the children had to work. 2.The Act prohibited the employment of children under nine in all textile mills powered by steam and water. 3.It also limited the working hours to nine hours per day and mandated schooling “Parliament passed five Labour Laws between 1802 and 1833, but was shrewd enough not to vote a penny for their carrying out...” (Karl Marx) 2009

11 Britain USA In the U.S., states began limiting children to a ten- hour workday but the laws were not always enforced! 2009

12 1870: 750,000 Child Laborers In 1870, the first U.S. census to report child labor numbers counted 750,000 workers under the age of 15, not including children who worked for their families in businesses or on farms.

13 Britain USA In the U.S. the National Labor Law Committee forms, and child labor law reform begins Child working as a spinner. Photographed by Lewis Hine: about/Pages/History.aspx

14 1911: 2 Million Child Laborers By 1911, more than two million American children under the age of 16 were working - many of them 12 hours or more, six days a week. Often they toiled in unhealthful and hazardous conditions; always for minuscule wages.

15 Britain USA In the U.S., a new federal child labor law sets a minimum age for employment but it was declared unconstitutional after just two years. Photograph by Lewis Hine: online-history.org/ Wc2.htm

16 National Child Labor Committee Lewis Wilkes Hine, a photographer, was hired by the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), a social welfare organization founded in 1904, to document the working conditions of children who worked for pennies in fields, factories, textile mills, sweatshops, coal mines, canneries and on city streets.

17 Protested Conditions The NCLC was not alone in decrying child labor. Numerous organizations protested the crowded and unsanitary conditions in factories and factory dormitories where disease spread rampantly.

18 Arguments Against Child Labor They argued that the rigors of child labor weakened the future work force; and that at its worst, child labor caused death. They reasoned that children who were working 10- hour days were unfairly denied the universal education promised them by the state.

19 Keating-Owen Act The tireless efforts of reformers, social workers and unions seemed to pay off in 1916 at the height of the progressive movement when President Woodrow Wilson passed the Keating-Owen Act banning articles produced by child labor from being sold in interstate commerce. The act was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court just two years later.

20 Dangers in the Mills Young girls continued to work in mills, still in danger of slipping and losing a finger or a foot while standing on top of machines to change bobbins; or of being scalped if their hair got caught.

21 Cave-Ins and Explosions And, as ever, after a day of bending over to pick bits of rock from coal, breaker boys were still stiff and in pain. If a breaker boy fell, he could still be smothered, or crushed, by huge piles of coal. And, when he turned 12, he would still be forced to go down into the mines and face the threat of cave- ins and explosions.

22 Fair Labor Standards Act Child labor continued unabated until the sweeping Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was passed, just two years before Lewis Hine died, and after countless children had fallen prey to disease, injury and premature death.

23 Minimum Wage & Limited Age The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 established a minimum wage and limited the age of child laborers to 16 and over, 18 for hazardous occupations. Children 14 and 15 years old were permitted to work in certain occupations after school.

24 Economy?Free Choice?Skill for Trade? Domestic work same as factory work? “They [factory reformers] believed that families could not give up the wages of children.... Observers believed that textile factories could not run without child labor” (Clark Nardinelli, Historian, 1990). “No one, not parents, employers, or government should be able to coerce children into or prohibit them from entering work situations. Children old enough to be supporting themselves are old enough to make their own decisions” (Wendy McElroy, Feminist, 2001). Critics argue that children who work in the factories learn valuable skills such as a trade and endurance. “The work was often more difficult because [of] pressure... and the oppressive conditions of the factories.... Tasks were harder and required concentration and strength.... Children were [watched] by an overseer which created fear” (Carolyn Tuttle, Historian, 1999). Opinions of Child Labor Britain USA In the U.S., minimum ages of employment and hours for children laborers are regulated by federal law

25 Works Cited Cruickshank, Marjorie. Children and Industry. Manchester: Manchester University Press, Marx, Karl. Das Kapital. Vol. I. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Company, Nardinelli, Clark. Child Labor and the Industrial Revolution. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, "Were Children Exploited During the Industrial Revolution?" Research in Economic History 2 (1988): Rule, John. The Experience of Labour in Eighteenth Century English Industry. New York: St. Martin's Press, Tuttle, Carolyn. "A Revival of the Pessimist View: Child Labor and the IndustrialRevolution." Research in Economic History 18 (1998):


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