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Child Labor in the late 1800s-1900

Child Labor in the late 1800s-1900

Where did it start?

                The “Lack of Child Labor” laws meant 1.75 million kids under the age of fifteen were in mines or tobacco fields for twenty-five cents per day.  This was a time of growth.

"The factories need the children, and the children need the factories."


                In 1802 the British Parliament passed the first child’s labor law. The law was only for pauper kids, and would work in cotton mills. If you were under the age of 14, you couldn’t work at night. Instead, you had a twelve-hour workday.

                In 1819 the law was the enforced to all children. In 1832 about 40% of all factory workers were ages 7-16. By 1890, 20% of all kids living in the U.S. were employed fulltime.

                However, in 1916 U.S. Congress passed a law making sixteen the legal working age, and fourteen in some cases.  You were limited to eight-hour workdays, and a maximum of forty-eight hours a week.

                But in 1819, the Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional. Congress tried eighteen years of age, but didn’t agree.

What would they do?

            The most common places that children were put to work were textile factories, coal mills, farms, and other factories. The reason that children were put to work in these places is due to machines. Their job was keeping the machines running smoothly, even if it put them in danger. In textile mills the youngest were known as “scavengers” and “piecers”. The scavengers would pick up the loose cotton from underneath the machinery, while it was still in motion. The piecers were stationed where wool was spinning.


My opinion

            My opinion is that child labor was one of the most terrible acts in the 1800’s. I am sure that there were more than enough adults to take care of the jobs that small child had to do. In these textile industries most of the workers were under 10 and were paid little if any. If I lived in a society that let children work I would have fought it at the start. Some of these children died or is a cripple for the rest of their lives.

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"The factories need the children, and the children need the factories."

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