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  • Back to index of Class Conscious, Second Edition
  • Class Conscious:
    The Injustice of Poverty

    Second Edition

    Chapter 3: The Brutal Result of Capitalism on the People of the World -- The Worker (Historical)

    By Punkerslut

    Start Date: May 24, 2003
    Finish Date: June 2, 2004

    Section I: Preface to this Chapter

         When reading the title of this chapter, one may infer a rather biased opinion of the ideas that I am going to present here. I can only hope that people can overlook whatever political stance they have and fully recognize the abuses that I brought up in this chapter. The only reason I chose this title was because it was most fitting to the subject matter -- and I think that many will in fact agree, whether they believe in the Free Market or not. This chapter is going to encompass the effects of the Capitalist system upon the society and its members. Before going on to do that, I must also state that, in the previous chapter, I covered some topics in economics that I may not have fully convinced my reader of. For example, the idea that economic depressions are caused by lack of investment, or the idea of a subsistence wage, or -- in particular -- that the expense of producing a product is not the sole (or even the greatest) value considered when the distributor must decide a retail cost for it. While I quoted economists whose observations have confirmed my opinion, I did not necessarily cover economic data to prove my assertions. In this chapter, I will bring up evidence that will confirm further the previous chapter's assertions on economics. It will be in this chapter that I discuss the history of Capitalism, as it deals with the condition of the worker. With that said, I continue in this chapter.

    Section II: Abuse of the Worker (Historical)

    It is whether the Congress is going to act to stop a carnage which continues for one reason, and one reason only, and that is because the people of this country don't realize what is involved, and they can't see the blood on the food that they eat, and on the things that they buy, and on the services they get.

    -- W. Willard Wirtz [*1]

         There is no person in poverty who has not attempted to use their wage-earning ability of labor to improve their condition. No person who believes in sustaining themselves and the ones they care about, and are dependent upon them, has refused to take an occupation of labor, when it meant his labor would feed and house his family. You will be hard-strained if you search the working class of people, looking for a person who refuses to engage in labor, a person who is unknown to the hardships of manual hardship. With all of this said, we now delve into the dark history that surrounds those of the working class, the wage-earning class, the laborers of society, what Marxists would call... The Proletariat: without ownership of any means of production, only with their labor and an undying desire to feed themselves...

         In 1798, Thomas Malthus published "An Essay on the Principle of Population," which would become world famous. In it, he describes the condition of children who are forced to labor in the agricultural field...

    It cannot fail to be remarked by those who live much in the country that the sons of labourers are very apt to be stunted in their growth, and are a long while arriving at maturity. Boys that you would guess to be fourteen or fifteen are, upon inquiry, frequently found to be eighteen or nineteen. And the lads who drive plough, which must certainly be a healthy exercise, are very rarely seen with any appearance of calves to their legs: a circumstance which can only be attributed to a want either of proper or of sufficient nourishment. [*2]

         While it may be understood by some historians that child labor would develop mostly through the late 1800's and the early 1900's, they understand falsely. If someone were to delve deep into the older books, one will find countless examples of child labor being used long before the industrial revolution was in full swing. And, just as Malthus described how the labor of children made them deformed, it would also be recognized by all writers after him who observed this horrific act. Further describing how the lives of older workers are without free time, Malthus writes...

    It has been not infrequently remarked that talents are more common among younger brothers than among elder brothers, but it can scarcely be imagined that younger brothers are, upon an average, born with a greater original susceptibility of parts. The difference, if there really is any observable difference, can only arise from their different situations. Exertion and activity are in general absolutely necessary in one case and are only optional in the other. [*3]

         When was it, though, that child labor became an intrinsic part of factory labor? And, once it has been incorporated into the production process, how many children were employed in these dangerous trades? In 1815, J. C. L. Simonde de Sismonde writes...

    The division of labour has conferred a value on operations so simple, that children, from the tenderest age, are capable of executing them; and children, before having developed any of their faculties, before having experienced any enjoyment of life, are accordingly condemned to put a wheel in motion, to turn a spindle, to empty a bobbin. More lace, more pins, more threads, and cloth of cotton or silk, are the fruit of this great division of labour; but how dearly have we purchased them, if it is by this moral sacrifice of so many millions of human beings! [*4]

         It was estimated by this economist that there were millions of children working in these dangerous conditions. In another part, he writes, "In some trades, the workmen are obliged to live in mud, exposed to continual nausea; in others, the labour engenders painful and inevitable maladies; several stupify the senses, degrade the body and the soul; several employ none but children, and after introducing into life, abandon to a horrible indigence the being they have formed." [*5] In 1816, Robert Owen would publish his treatise on how to reform mankind through education so as to eliminate misery and poverty. Retouching the idea that child labor makes the children deformed, Owen describes one typical mill of England...

    But to defray the expense of these well-devised arrangements, and to support the establishment generally, it was absolutely necessary that the children should be employed within the mills from six o'clock in the morning till seven in the evening, summer and winter; and after these hours their education commenced.


    And so it proved; for many of them became dwarfs in body and mind, and some of them were deformed. Their labour through the day and their education at night became so irksome, that numbers of them continually ran away, and almost all looked forward with impatience and anxiety to the expiration of their apprenticeship of seven, eight, and nine years, which generally expired when they were from thirteen to fifteen years old. At this period of life, unaccustomed to provide for themselves, and unacquainted with the world, they usually went to Edinburgh or Glasgow, where boys and girls were soon assailed by the innumerable temptations which all large towns present, and to which many of them fell sacrifices. [*6]

         The year 1830 marked the delivery of Nassau Senior's lectures on the rate of wages. It was in this university lecture that he spoke to his audience of the conditions of the workers. Here he said, "In Manchester, the manufacturer generally works twelve hours a day; in Birmingham, ten: a London shopman is seldom employed more than eight or nine." [*7] He also said, "...a spinner in England will do twice as much as a Frenchman. They get up at four in the morning, and work till ten at night..." [*8] Elsewhere, he describes the working conditions of some of the workers, "...the atmosphere of smoke and steam in which they labour for seventy-two hours a week..." [*9] In 1877, Robert Green Ingersoll, a marked defender of Freethought and labor rights, would deliver an address in which he described the conditions of some of the workers: "We have seen here in America street-car drivers working sixteen and seventeen hours a day. It was necessary to have a strike in order to get to fourteen, another strike to get to twelve, and nobody could blame them for keeping on striking till they get to eight hours." [*10]

         The great mass of people were oppressed under the regime of Capitalism. Barely given a chance to eat, their souls were never allowed a chance to breathe. It was under these arduous conditions that they would be forced to live. So when we hear of those appalling living and working conditions, ones which we could not imagine any human being existing in, it is often times from those who were interested in observing the economic actions and reactions of society. Those who were living a hand-to-mouth existence, waking to days of bitter toil and sleeping at nights with empty stomachs and broken hearts -- these men, women, and children, were never allowed a moment to sit down and write what they were putting through; while they may write poetry through their brief sighs at work, they never left anything for us that we could use to remember them. They were never allowed the privilege of a happy life, never granted anything beyond the bondage of forced labor. With millions of children employed in these factories, many of them deformed, others with lost limbs, one might ask: "Why is it that the grounds of England are not covered with the tattered papers full of help notes, of suicide messages, of journal entries full of sorrow and still more sorrow -- all written by these crushed under the wheels of industry?" The children were illiterate, but then why have we not found the same of the adult worker? The answer is clear... Their lives were so brutal and destructive, towards their mental and physical health, that few efforts were dedicated to extrapolating upon what was commonplace with the masses. There was not enough strength in their hearts to write out the cruel details that made up their existence... and so it is, that up until the late 1800's, the great deal of information that we uncover on abuse of the workers comes from economists, sociologists, and other high-ranking members of society, instead of the Proletariat. But, in the late 1800's, things would start to be changing. There would be an enthusiasm in the air, although mostly smothered by the pain that the great amount of people must have endured, there would be a desire to change the way things are. What earlier Socialist and Communist thinkers would theorize on earlier, would become a part of the daily life for these oppressed people... and we start to see, that the information on the conditions of the workers, comes from the hand of the workers themselves.

         As well as a coming to consciousness among the classes, the late 1800's would bring in a great deal of immigration to the United States. In 1893, Ida M. Van Etten would publish an article on Russian Jewish immigrants, she would describe how these new workers would work for lower pay at worse conditions: "In many trades they replaced the miserably paid women by still cheaper labor, while their willingness to work for sixteen or eighteen hours a day rendered them still more obnoxious to American working men and women." [*11] Reaffirming the theory of a subsistence wage, she writes, "In no other had the sweating system been carried to such extremes [in the cloak-making industry]. The wages of a work-day of from sixteen to eighteen hours often failed to supply the necessaries of their miserable existence." [*12] Still she writes, "...in shirt-making alone the length of the working-day five years ago was fourteen hours, and it is now ten hours..." [*13] and further still, "The Jew who here becomes the employer of labor has been obliged, perhaps, as a workman in Europe to live upon two or three dollars a week..." [*14] There can be no denying that Ida M. Van Etten was a writer for the people, that she put words on to paper to enlighten minds and free bodies, the most noble gestures of all time. In a bit of a longer part, she writes...

    During the years 1881 to 1888 wages in the trades principally filled by the Russian Jews rarely rose above five or six dollars a week, while the hours ranged from sixteen to eighteen, and in the busy season often much longer. I have seen cloak-makers working in the sweaters' shops on the East Side at one or two o'clock in the morning, and members of the Cloak-makers' Union testify that before the formation of the union twenty hours was by no means an uncommon work-day. In fact, there seemed to be no limit to the extent of a day's work, except the limit of physical endurance. The conditions under which these people worked are almost indescribable to one who has never seen a sweater's den. The over-crowding and over-work, the filth and the squalor, and the horrible sanitary surroundings make a picture which must be seen to be understood. Factory laws and the regulations of the Board of Health were entirely ignored. Factory and sanitary inspectors were rare visitors in the sweaters' territory at this time, and it would be hard to picture the misery and suffering of these people, who in fleeing from the persecution of the Czar of Russia had fallen under the iron rule of a multitude of little industrial czars. They had fled from unbearable Old World conditions to sweaters' dens and tenement-houses where human beings are packed more closely than in any other quarter of the globe--a density of three hundred and seventy-four thousand persons to the square mile. In Russia they ate black bread, but they had at least plenty of pure air. In New York also they ate black bread, but they ate it in a poisonous atmosphere. [*15]

         As the prevalence of sweatshops in the late 1800's would become overly obvious, the U. S. Congress would allocate a committee to investigate as to the causes and the extent of such a system of industry. T. J. Morgan, one of the reporters of this committee, would write in 1893...

    This element of cheapness is secured, first, through the use by the sweater of living rooms and dilapidated buildings so undesirable in every respect for living purposes or occupancy by human beings that the expense for use is far below that consequent upon the use of buildings especially constructed for manufacturing purposes. Second, by the employment of the most helpless of both sexes with regard to age or physical condition, for a greater number of hours each day (Sundays included) and at much lower rates of wages than are usual in the regular factory. [*16]

         In the same year, T. J. Morgan would be asked to testify before the committee on the issue of sweatshops. When asked about the typical employment of sweaters and their laborers, she would reply...

    I would describe it that the work is taken out by sweaters. They go to the large firms and make a contract for so much work at such a price, and then they employ men, women, and children and pay their wages at the very lowest, and work them not less than ten hours per day, and some of them work eighteen hours per day, and in many cases on Sunday. In some of these places they board the workers. They are in the habit of hiring one, two, and three rooms. Some of the rooms I measured myself and found them to be 6 by 8 feet. [*17]

         During the same testimony, she was asked, "Where is this work carried on?" to which she replied, "Some in basements and some in attics." [*18] When asked, "Is the work carried on in buildings where they live, or in buildings built for the purpose?" she said, "In tenement houses." [*19] She would be asked, "Where people live in the same room?" and she would respond, "In the majority of cases I found that they lived, work, and sleep in the same room." [*20] Some of the questions and answers during that same testimony...

    Question: "Do they make any distinction between their workroom and their sleeping room?"

    Her answer: "No, sir; they work in all."


    Question: "About how large would be a typical sweat shop?"

    Her answer: "Some 12 by 14, and some 12 by 16."

    Question: "How many people would be employed in a room of the size that you mention?"

    Answer: "Perhaps a dozen people. In one room that I found on West Division street, which was 10 by 40, and 8 feet high, there were 39 girls, 11 men, and 12 children, and the sweater and his wife."


    Question: "Now, how about the sleeping arrangements of these people?

    Answer: "In about half a dozen places I would find, when I inquired, that after working hours the beds were made on the floor."

    Question: "Were these cases extraordinary, or were they frequent?"

    Answer: "I suppose there were six or eight such cases."


    Question: "You mentioned children. To what extent did you find children employed?"

    Answer: "I found 12 or 14 places where I found children, out of these 30 places I visited."

    Question: "Of what ages were they?"

    Answer: "All the way from 9 to 13."

    Question: "What sex?"

    Answer: "All girls."


    Question: "Have you made any inquiry concerning what previous conditions have been?"

    Answer: "Yes."

    Question: "As the result of that inquiry, has that sort of employment under the conditions you have described been increased or decreased in the last five years?"

    Answer: "As I understand, it has been increasing."

    Question: "Has it increased or decreased within the last year?"

    Answer: "Yes, it has increased."


    Question: "How about the sanitary conditions of what you have termed 'sweat shops' with regard to water-closets and running water for washing purposes?"

    Answer: "In my investigation of thirty shops I never found one place where there was any place provided to put clothes or wash."

    Question: "How about water-closets?"

    Answer: "They were very bad."


    Question: "State what occurs to you in regard to the children."

    Answer: "I would state that in some places they do not allow children any dinner hour at all, and in several places I found they did not even allow them to eat between working hours--only morning and evening." [*21]

         During that same testimony, T. J. Morgan would say, "The other room was very much smaller and very dark. Two girls worked in there by lamplight making cigars. In the third room I think six men were working, and that was a room I should judge about 10 by 10. Then I found another one where there was a man and his wife and one child in a very small room." [*22] and still, "The law says that every man, woman, and child shall have 500 cubic feet of space to work in, and I find that they only get one-tenth of what the law allows." [*23] Also in the year 1893, the Inspection Committee on Manufactures on the Sweating System would complete its initial report. In it, it was written...

    At the first place we found a man and his wife and eight children living in two rooms, each 12 by 12, where they ate, slept, cooked, and worked at making children's pants, the new materials cut and sorted for which were found piled up on the bed in the inside room. The two rooms, while they showed every sign of poverty and crowding, were not particularly unclean, the inspector noting that they were better than a few days since, when he had warned them. There were no conveniences for [water] closets, etc., except those in common with others on the same alley, filthy and nauseating beyond description and showing no regard to decency, let alone comfort or cleanliness.

    Right across the alley there was visited the second place which the inspector now discovered for the first time. In two rooms about the same width, but each a little longer than those just visited, was found a man and his wife and four children with several boarders or guests, the latter lying about in a way to indicate that they were decidedly at home. Here clothing was being manufactured, and upon the three beds were piled the goods, cut ready to be made up. The stench and filth of these rooms were such as to make it impossible for members of the committee to remain in them, while the closet arrangements outside were simply a mass of filth.

    On the next visit there were found on the second floor a husband, wife, and two children and a boarder, living in two rooms, one about 10 by 18 and another about 10 by 7; and here, also, clothing was being made up and stacked upon the beds. This place was decidedly filthy, but not so repulsive as the one just left.

    The next visit was to a place where a man and his wife, three children, a girl cousin, and two employees lived, ate, and slept in a place 18 by 20 feet, divided into three irregular rooms. Here cooking, eating, sleeping, and working were being carried on in the same room, and the materials and finished goods were piled upon the beds and the tables where the food lay. Here filth was such as to be nauseating, and the committee could hardly complete its inspection. [*24]

         The report of the committee discussed the observations that were seen within this horrible industry, and the horrible effects that it had upon workers and the people in general. Also in the report, it is written...

    We next visited two rooms on a third floor, where we found two little girls, say 5 and 8 years old, left alone in a dirty and disordered apartment of two rooms, while their mother and sister were at work in a local concern making up pants. The machine in the room and the general situation of the furniture, etc., showed that the business had been carried on there and upon the same tables where the family ate. Upon inquiry the elder of the little girls said that her mamma and sister each brought home pantaloons to work upon at night. The premises here were very dirty, and the beds and cooking arrangements repulsively so; but yet a most agreeable contrast in order and cleanliness to the worst of those before visited. [*25]

         Florence Kelley, a woman who would defend the rights of the people and the workers to great extent, would be asked to testify before the committee in the year of 1893. Describing the conditions she found as an inspector, she spoke to the committee...

    The first thing which I noticed in my investigation was the uniformity of filthy surroundings. The first afternoon that I entered upon the work, I came upon a home finisher at 98 Ewing street--it was the second Saturday afternoon in June. The woman had on her lap a baby, wrapped in Italian fashion, with a swelling in its neck, which the mother told me was a scarlet fever swelling; and spread upon the baby, and partly covering it, and coming in contact with its head, was a cloak, which this mother was sewing, which bore the tag "M.F. & Co." It was being finished for a sweater in the neighborhood. I have kept a record of cases of infectious diseases which I found, and they include seven cases of unmistakable infectious diseases, and those were all in finishers families. It is important to note that there is constantly a doubt expressed as to whether it is possible to limit the work of people at home in their own rooms, and not directly in a shop, and not employing persons who are not members of their own families. Now, I will give you a copy from my note book, which I took at the time; I will give you these seven cases. The first Saturday afternoon in June I found this scarlet fever case at 98 Ewing street. The mother was working alone, and employed no one else, in her own bedroom. At 65 Ewing street, the following week, I found a case, in a Sicilian family, where four children were just recovering from scarlet fever, and cloak making had been carried on continuously throughout the illness. On the second Sunday afternoon in July I found, at 145 Bunker street, a Bohemian customs' tailor, sewing a fine, customs cloak, not more than six feet from the bed; and on this bed his little boy lay dying of typhoid fever, and I ascertained that the child died of typhoid fever the following week. At 128 Ewing street I found a diphtheria notice posted, and the patient suffering on the ground floor, in a rear room, with cloaks being finished in the room in front, and knee pants in the room overhead. At 365 Jefferson street I found a case of measles, with women finishing cloaks in the same room with the patient. This was the case to which Dr. Alderson called my attention. At 136 Ewing street I found two children, Francisco and Mary Sergello, finishing knee pants in their mother's bedroom, while suffering from a most aggravated case of scabies--the itch. This was so aggravated that they had been banished from the childrens' clubs, because it was dangerous for them to come in contact with other children and I saw them rubbing their faces and the scales falling on the clothing that they sewed. [*26]

         The committee would ask her, "What quality of clothing was that?" in reference to the production of the workers. She would reply...

    Very poor clothing. At 11 Polk street, on the 15th of September, a child died of malignant diphtheria. The work of cloakmaking and knee pants finishing went on in the room with the patient, and in the adjacent rooms, and I myself saw bundles of knee pants carried out of an adjacent room to the sweaters' shop at 257 Polk street. I think that makes seven cases, and it is of importance to note that none of those cases of infectious diseases was in a sweater's shop, and each of them was in a family where the family alone worked without employing other help. I also observed in the manufacture of plush cloaks and of expensive fur-trimmed cloaks some of the filthiest places which I visited, and those cloaks are wholly incapable of disinfection by pressing, even if pressing were a disinfecting means, because fur cloaks are never pressed, that is fur-trimmed cloaks, and plush cloaks are never pressed; and throughout the time during which my inspection was made it was principally heavy winter cloaks that I found in process of manufacture among those home finishers. Now, as to the health of the employees, they suffer intensely. The people employed at the sweat shops suffer not only from coming in contact with the clothing which has been finished in the finishers' homes, and from working in ill-ventilated shops, frequently underground, but they also suffer from the excessive speed at which they are compelled to work foot-power machines, and this is true not only of young girls and growing boys, but also of men, in those shops in which any such men are employed. I can't swear that I found in any shop a man able to keep up the regular speed who was over 40 years old. When I inquired as to the age of the employees, I constantly found that the men who looked old and broken-down, and as though they might be well on towards sixty, were early in the thirties. One case which I have since found to be typical came to my attention of a young man about 33, named David Silverman. He had been operating a machine in the ordinary sweaters' shops since he was 14 years old, and was entirely incapacitated by exhaustion from further work. The physicians who examined him agreed in stating that he was suffering from premature old age, and at 33 he was superanuated and wholly dependent upon charity for supporting himself and his five children. I found a large number of cases in which the children were supporting fathers who ranged in age from 38 to 45 years, and were incapacitated purely by reason of having speeded the machine from fifteen to twenty years. The effect of the machine work on young girls and boys was very conspicuous. The effect of speeding machines was seen in the prevailing waxy color of the children's faces, both in the shops and in their homes. I constantly found young people between 15 and 20 who were temporarily disabled by exhaustion, consequent upon speeding their machines; they were weak from exhaustion. So that the poverty of the sweaters' victims results not only from the low wages which they actually receive while at work, but from the fact that the work wears them out so that their earnings are limited to a very few years of their life. [*27]

         The committee would further ask her, "How about the wages paid in those places?" She would reply...

    I found that the wages for girls ranged from nothing to the highest that I found--I found one girl for one week in the height of the season to be working 15 hours a day for seven consecutive days at seam binding, which is the heaviest work in the trade, and is usually done by strong men, she earned $18. I found an able-bodied girl speeding a machine making knee pants for nothing, and she told me, and the man beside her corroborated her statement, that she had been working three weeks for nothing; and three men in the shop told me that they had earned their places by working six weeks for nothing. In the same shop, at the southwest corner of Jefferson and Taylor streets, on the fourth floor, over a saloon, I found three little girls, who were absolutely illiterate, sewing on buttons and finishing knee pants for nothing. They were said to be learning the trade. The lowness of the wages is further enhanced by the habit of the sweaters of running away, and paying none. A man who is going into the sweating business frequently rents a room for a week, hires his hands for a week, requires them to supply sewing machines, and gets a contract of work which will employ them about a week. At the end of the week he turns in the goods, gets the money and leaves the neighborhood. In one case, a week after seeing such a sweater in a shop in the 19th ward, I found the same sweater working in the same temporary manner in the neighborhood of Dickson street and Milwaukee avenue. I found dozens of cases in which sweaters had moved away and had paid none of the wages which they owed their employees. In one case I found a debt of $40 to a single family, on the part of a sweater who left in this way and went to Brooklyn. The municipal ordinances are partly incapable of enforcement, and partly unenforced by reason of the inadequacy of the staff, and there is no hope of any improvement in the activity of the board of health by reason of simple agitation of the subject, for agitation has been thoroughly tried during the past year, and the committee has seen the results of it. [*28]

         Also in the year 1893, Florence Kelley would write a report on the system of sweatshops in the city of Chicago. As an inspector of factories, of which sweatshops were counted as, her words concerning the matter should be taken with high credibility. In her report of the Chicago sweatshops, she wrote, "If an inspector orders sanitary changes to be made within a week, the sweater may prefer to disappear before the close of the week and open another shop in another place. Such easy evasion of the authorities places the sweater almost beyond official control, and many of them overcrowd their shops, overwork their employees, hire small children, keep their shops unclean, and their sanitary arrangements foul and inadequate." [*29] And, describing further, she writes, "It is needless to suggest that the sweat-shop districts as they have been described are the natural abodes of disease and the breeding places of infection and epidemics." [*30] Further still, she describes the conditions of Chicago workers of the era...

    A few examples may be cited illustrating what some of these places are like: In one case several men were found at work pressing knee-pants in a low basement room poorly lighted and ventilated by two small windows. There was no floor in this room, and the people were living on the bare earth, which was damp and littered with every sort of rubbish. In another case seven persons were at work in a room 12 by 15 feet in dimensions and with but two windows. These people with the sewing machines of operators and the tables used by the pressers, so filled this meager space that it was impossible to move about. Charcoal was used for heating the pressers' irons, and the air was offensive and prostrating to a degree. Separated from this shop-room by a frail partition which did not reach to the ceiling was a bedroom about 7 by 15 feet in size, containing two beds, for the use of the family of the sweater. In another instance, in a small basement room which measured only 7 feet 10 inches by 6 feet 6 inches, and without door or window opening to the outer air, a man was at work pressing knee-pants by the light of a very poor gasoline lamp and using a gasoline stove for heating his irons.

    One of the principal aims of the sweater is the avoidance of rent. Hence the only requirement for a sweaters' shop is that the structure must be strong enough to sustain the jar of the machines. This condition being filled, any tenement-room is available, whether in loft, or basement, or stable. Fire-escapes in such buildings are unknown; water for flushing closets is rarely found, and the employees are equally at the mercy of fire and disease. Frequently the sweater's home is his shop, with a bed among the machines; or, the family sleeps on cots, which are removed during the day to make room for employees. Sometimes two or three employees are also boarders or lodgers, and the tenement dwelling is the shop; and cooking, sleeping, sewing and the nursing of the sick are going on simultaneously.

    A shop was found in which 12 persons lived in 6 rooms, of which two were used as a shop. Knee-pants in all stages of completion filled the shop, the bedrooms and kitchen. Nine men were employed at machines in a room 12 by 14, and there knee-pants were being manufactured by the thousand gross. This is in the rear of a swarming tenement in a wretched street. Sometimes the landlord is the sweater, using his own basement or outhouse for a shop and renting his rooms to his employees for dwellings. Only one case was found in which a tailor, not a sweater, had acquired a house. He is a skilled tailor, still doing "the whole work" at home, assisted by his wife. For nineteen years he has lived and worked in two wretched rear tenement rooms, paying by installments for his house, which is still encumbered All others in the trade who owned houses were found to be either sweaters or women finishers, whose able-bodied husbands follow other occupations, such as teaming, peddling, ditching, street cleaning, etc.

    But the worst conditions of all prevail among the families who finish garments at home. Here the greatest squalor and filth abounds and the garments are of necessity exposed to it and a part of it during the process of finishing. A single room frequently serves as kitchen, bed-room, living-room and working-room. In the Italian quarter four families were found occupying one four-room flat, using one cook stove, and all the women and children sewing in the bed-rooms. For this flat they pay $10 a month, each family contributing $2.50 a month. Another group was found consisting of 13 persons, of whom 4 were fathers of families, and 5 were women and girls sewing on cloaks at home. These 13 people pay $8 per month rent, each family contributing $2. [*31]

         The idea that intensive labor is capable of deforming, debilitating, and dwarfing the worker was initially demonstrated in 1798 by Thomas Malthus. I would not be surprised if earlier authors observed the same principle. Describing the debilitating work of sweatshops, Florence Kelley writes...

    Observation among sweated people confirms the opinion that a direct consequence of their occupation is a general impairment of health in both sexes; in men the debility takes the form of consumption, either of the lungs or intestines, and of complete exhaustion and premature old age; the girls become victims of consumption, dyspepsia, and life-long pelvic disorders. These are the results of the overexertion, bad housing, undernourishment and noxious surroundings common to their calling and condition in life. But in addition to these disabilities they are constantly exposed to the inroads of typhoid and scarlet fevers, and other zymotic diseases. Cases of this kind develop in the tenements and too often have but scant medical or other attendance. [*32]

         Malthus believed that it was intensive labor on children which dwarfed them, but as Florence Kelley shows, intensive labor on a person of any age is capable of physically debilitating them. She writes...

    In the busy season women and girls drive their machines at the greatest possible speed for ten hours a day, under the stimulus of plenty of work and good earnings while it lasts, but it often breaks them down and sends them to the hospital before the season is over. Even men fail rapidly under this strain and are prematurely superannuated. A man who has run a machine from his 12th to his 36th year, under the conditions prevailing in this trade, aggravated by bad housing, bad food, over exertion during the summer and anxiety during the winter, is now practically an old man. In the shop where he has worked for seven years it no longer pays the sweater to give him room, because his speed and endurance are no longer up to the standard. It is said that there are no men of 45 in the sweaters' shops, not because they have risen out of them, but because they have broken down by reason of them. [*33]

         Florence Kelley would be appointed as one of the factory inspectors of Illinois. In 1894, she would publish the first annual report of the factory inspectors of Illinois. In it, she writes...

    The medical examinations made in this office preliminary to granting health certificates reveal an incredible degree of filth of clothing and person. The children taken from the candy factories were especially shocking in this respect, and demonstrated anew, the urgent need of bathing facilities both in the workingman's home, where bath-tubs seem to be unknown, and in numerous and accessible swimming-baths, where a plunge can follow the day's work.

    Boys are found handling candy with open sores upon their hands, and girls wrapping and packing it whose arms were covered with an eruption which is a direct consequence of filth. Boys from knee-pants shops have presented themselves so covered with vermin as to render a close examination almost impossible. [*34]


    The reckless employment of children in injurious occupations also is shown in the record of these medical examinations. A glaring example of this is Jaroslav Huptuk, a feeble-minded dwarf, whose affidavit shows him to be nearly sixteen years of age. This child weighs and measures almost exactly the same as a normal boy aged eight years and three months. Jaroslav Huptuk cannot read nor write in any language, not speak a consecutive sentence. Besides being dwarfed, he is so deformed as to be a monstrosity. Yet, with all these disqualifications for any kind of work, he has been employed for several years at an emery wheel, in a cutlery works, finishing knife-blades and bone handles, until, in addition to his other misfortunes, he is now suffering from tuberculous. Dr. Holmes, having examined this boy, pronounced him unfit for work of any kind. His mother appealed from this to a medical college, where, however, the examining physician not only refused the lad a medical certificate, but exhibited him to the students as a monstrosity worthy of careful observation. He was finally taken in charge by an orthoædist, and after careful treatment will be placed in a school for the feeble-minded. The kind of grinding at which this boy was employed has been prohibited in England for minors since 1883, by reason of the prevalence of "grinders' pthisis" among those who begin this work young.

    Another occupation conspicuously injurious to children is the running of button-hole machines by foot-power. As a typical case: Joseph Poderovsky, aged fourteen years, was found by a deputy inspector running a heavy button-holer at 204 West Taylor street, in the shop of Michael Freeman. The child was required to report for medical examination, and pronounced by the examining physician rachitic and afflicted with a double lateral curvature of the spine. He was ordered discharged, and prohibited from working in any tailor shop. A few days later he was found at work at the same machine. [*35]

         She describes the hazards that existed in the reign of Free Trade: "When the law went into operation, every tin-can and stamping works in Illinois was employing minors under sixteen years of age, at machines known to be liable to destroy the fingers, hands, and even the whole arm of the operator." [*36] Further still, she describes the abuses committed by the industrialist class...

    Bennie Kelman, Russian Jew, four years in Chicago, fifteen years and four months old, father a glazier, found running a heavy sewing machine in a knee-pants shop. A health certificate was required, and the examination revealed a severe rupture. Careful questioning of the boy and his mother elicited the fact that he had been put to work in a boiler factory, two years before, when just thirteen years old, and had injured himself by lifting heavy masses of iron. Nothing had been done for the case, no one in the family spoke any English, or knew how help could be obtained. The sight test showed that he did not know his letters in English...


    The working of the law, even in its present inadequate form, is exemplified in its application to the tin-can industry by Norton's tin-can factory at Maywood. Here a very large number of boys are employed, a score having been found under fourteen years of age. In one part of the factory twenty to thirty boys work upon a shelf suspended between the first and second floors of the building. These unfortunate lads crouch, lie on their sides, sit on their feet, kneel, in short, assume every possible attitude except the normal, straight, sitting or standing posture of healthful employment. Their work consists in receiving pieces of tin sent to them by boys on the second floor, sorting them and poking them into slits in the shelf, whence the pieces of tin are conveyed to the machines on the ground floor for which they are destined. The atmosphere of the room at the height of the shelf is such that the inspector could endure it but a few minutes at a time. The noise of the machinery was so overpowering that it was impossible to make the boys hear questions until after two or three repetitions. The pieces of tin being sharp, the lad's fingers were bound up in cloths to prevent cutting, but in many cases these cloths were found to be saturated with blood. [*37]

         Beginning October 21, 1893, the factory inspectors of Illinois began prosecuting offenders. Gustav Ravitz, Joseph Kabat, Charles Olsen, John Olson, Oscar Milburn, Morris Weinschenker, and Samuel Weirthemer were charged with employing children under 16 years of age. Edward Klotz, C. Schwanebec, and John Vaska were charged with employing children under 14 years of age. [*38] In 1894, Stephen Crane would publish an article describing the conditions under which the coal miners of that time worked. He describes the large amounts of soot that the miners were forced to work with: "Through their ragged shirts we could get occasional glimpses of shoulders black as stoves." [*39] He would also identify what was known back then as a legend. The ultimate dream of the miner he describes as, "...to a shattered old man's estate with a mere 'miner's asthma.'" [*40] What was miner's asthma? It would be identified and classified by doctors in the next century, later to be called "black lung" -- a condition which generally starts with wheezing and shortness of breath, ending in death. In the United States, miners would remain completely unprotected from the condition of black lung for at least another 80 years after this article -- even though other nations would institute safety precautions that would prevent anyone from suffering this horrible way of dying. The child labor that was commonplace in the mines was described in this 1894 article...

    In a large room sat the little slate-pickers. The floor slanted at an angle of forty-five degrees, and the coal, having been masticated by the great teeth, was streaming sluggishly in long iron troughs. The boys sat straddling these troughs, and as the mass mover slowly, they grabbed deftly at the pieces of slate therein. There were five or six of them, one above another, over each trough. The coal is expected to be fairly pure after it passes the final boy. [*41]

         The mines of the late 1800's and early to middle 1900's could accurately be described as extensive grave sites. The death that was so commonplace from so many different causes in these mines is described still by Stephen Crane...

    These miners are grimly in the van. They have carried the war into places where nature has the strength of a million giants. Sometimes their enemy becomes exasperated and snuffs out ten twenty, thirty lives. Usually she remains calm, and takes one at a time with method and precision.


    There is an insidious, silent enemy in the gas. If the huge fanwheel on the top of the earth should stop for a brief period, there is certain death. If a man escape the gas, the floods, the "squeezes" of falling rock, the cars shooting through little tunnels, the precarious elevators, the hundred perils, there usually comes to him an attack of "miner's asthma" that slowly racks and shakes him into the grave. Meanwhile he gets three dollars per day, and his laborer one dollar and a quarter. [*42]

         The working conditions of these mines, their lack of safety and precautionary devices, not only made them a hazard to the workers, but it made work there brutal and harsh. Filled with struggle and discontent, the lives of these workers were oftentimes short, and always bitter Stephen Crane writes...

    Meanwhile they live in a place of infernal dins. The crash and thunder of the machinery is like the roar of an immense cataract. The room shrieks and blares and bellows. Clouds of dust blur the air until the windows shine pallidly afar off. All the structure is a-tremble from the heavy sweep and circle of the ponderous mechanism. Down in the midst of it sit these tiny urchins, where they earn fifty-five cents a day each. They breathe this atmosphere until their lungs grow heavy and sick with it. They have this clamor in their ears until it is wonderful that they have any hoodlum valor remaining. [*43]

         It would be in the late 1800's that the U.S. judicial system finally recognized the right of workers to gather for self-interest purposes. Up until this time, workers who attempted to organize were often murdered or imprisoned by the government. It was around this time, in July of the year 1897, that M. E. J. Kelley would write an article on the activities of unions. He estimated that around this time, four fifths of all the clothing made in the United States was made in unhealthy, unsafe conditions, according to 1890's standards. [*44] It was in the late 1800's that immigration would soar in the United States. Kelley describes the conditions that immigrants brought...

    It originated with the cigarmakers, who used it at first on the Pacific Coast in the later seventies as a means of protection against Chinese industry, which was flooding the California markets with cigars and threatening to drive the white cigarmakers to starvation wages in order to compete with it. The feeling against the Chinese was particularly strong just then, and an appeal was made to the smoking public on aesthetic and sanitary, as well as ethical, grounds. Men were urged not to purchase goods made by leprous Chinese under all sorts of unhealthful conditions, but instead to buy the products of well-paid white citizens employed at living wages in decent shops. [*45]

         In 1898, in an article defending the Russian Jewish immigrants, Abraham Cahan wrote, "The Russian-speaking population is represented also in the colleges for women. There are scores of educated Russian girls in the sweat-shops, and their life is one of direst misery,--of overwork in the shop, and of privations at home." [*46] In a fragment that I estimate to be written sometime around 1900, Mikhail Bakunin writes...

    The savings of workers are fairy tales invented by bourgeois economists to lull their weak sentiment of justice, the remorse that is awakened by chance in the bosom of their class. This ridiculous and hateful myth will never soothe the anguish of the worker. He knows the expense of satisfying the daily needs of his large family. If he had savings, he would not send his poor children, from the age of six, to wither away, to grow weak, to be murdered physically and morally in the factories, where they are forced to work night and day, a working day of twelve and fourteen hours. [*47]

         In another undated document, which I suspect to be composed around the year 1900, there is a report of the Tenement House Committee, of the Working Women's Society. In it, there are descriptions of the working conditions of some of those working in sweatshops: "Second floor, a pair of second hand clothing for the store below. This man was assiduously making over clothes, while the floor was covered with rags and ashes in some places two or three inches deep." [*48] In 1902, John McDowell wrote an article on the horrors that faced coal miners in that era. Child labor was an intrinsic part of the industry, that reformers furiously worked to end. In this article, he writes...

    "I'm twelve years old, goin' on thirteen," said the boy to the boss of the breaker. He didn't look more than ten, and he was only nine, but the law said he must be twelve to get a job. He was one of a multitude of the 16,000 youngsters of the mines, who, because miners' families are large and their pay comparatively small, start in the breaker before many boys have passed their primary schooling.... He gets from fifty to seventy cents for ten hours' work. He rises at 5:30 o'clock in the morning, puts on his working clothes, always soaked with dust, eats his breakfast, and by seven o'clock he has climbed the dark and dusty stairway to the screen room where he works. He sits on a hard bench built across a long chute through which passes a steady stream of broken coal. From the coal he must pick the pieces of slate or rock.


    Sitting on his uncomfortable seat, bending constantly over the passing stream of coal, his hands soon become cut and scarred by the sharp pieces of slate and coal, while his finger nails are soon worn to the quick from contact with the iron chute. The air he breathes is saturated with the coal dust, and as a rule the breaker is fiercely hot in summer and intensely cold in winter. [*49]

         It would, in fact, be marginally difficult to find any document of this time in which the author promoted, or even condoned, the tragedy that was the mining industry. Speaking of the boys in the mines who held the position of driver boys, John McDowell writes again, "These boys are in constant danger, not only of falling roof and exploding gas, but of being crushed by the cars. Their pay varies from $1.10 to $1.25, from which sum they supply their own lamps, cotton and oil." [*50] Finally, Mcdowell writes...

    The work of the door boy is not so laborious as that in the breaker, but is more monotonous. He must be on hand when the first trip of cars enter in the morning and remain until the last comes out at night. His duty is to open and shut the door as men and cars pass through the door, which controls and regulates the ventilation of the mine. He is alone in the darkness and silence all day, save when other men and boys pass through his door. Not many of these boys care to read, and if they did it would be impossible in the dim light of their small lamp. Whittling and whistling are the boy's chief recreations. The door boy's wages vary from sixty five to seventy five cents a day, and from this he provides his own lamp, cotton and oil.


    As a rule he [a laborer working in mines] rises at five A.M.; he enters the mine shortly after six. In some cases he is obliged to walk a mile or more underground to reach his place of work. He spends from eight to ten hours in the mine. Taking three hundred days as the possible working time in a year, the anthracite miner's daily pay for the past twenty years will not average over $1.60 a day, and that of the laborer not over $1.35.

    His dangers are many. He may be crushed to death at any time by the falling roof. burned to death by the exploding of gas, or blown to pieces by a premature blast. So dangerous is his work that he is debarred from all ordinary life insurance. In no part of the country will you find so many crippled boys and broken down men. During the last thirty years over 10,000 men and boys have been killed and 25,000 have been injured in this industry. Not many old men are found in the mines. The average age of those killed is 32.13. [*51]

         Other authors of the time era would comment on the condition in which the coal miners were forced to work in. In 1902, Margaret Robinson Blake would write, "The men who live at a distance from the mines go to work every morning in a railroad car especially run for them by the mining company. It is a dirty, grimy car, inhabited temporarily by as dirty looking a lot of men as can be found outside the realm of 'Dusty Rhodes' and 'Weary Walker.'" [*52] Also in this article, it describes the frequency of death among this branch of workers...

    Accidents are so frequent that a miner's wife said to me: "A natural death is such a strange thing here that when one hears that So and-So is dead, they ask at once, 'When was he killed?'"

    This being true, it would seem that there would be a leaning to religious things among the men, but, on the contrary, they become so inured to danger that the fear of death has no terrors for them-they live in the midst of it; it is a common visitor, almost as well known as the time keeper and cashier who appear with their accounts every week. [*53]

         In 1902, George S. Boutwell would publish an article with the radical title of, "The Enslavement of American Labor." In it, he defends the rights of American and international workers to be free from repression as much as they should be free from want and starvation. He describes outsourcing, a process where American manufacturers move to countries where wages are typically lower. This would become a more popular method of decreasing the value of the labor market, instead of immigrants coming to the country. Though outsourcing is believed to be a new idea, it may very well be true that it has only become widely popular in the modern era. Boutwell writes: "...producers who can employ laborers who can live on foods that are less expensive than the meat and breadstuffs which American laborers require and which they are accustomed to consume, who do not need fuel nor clothing for warmth, and whose wages are less than sixty percent of the wages which are now paid to American laborers." [*54] He also describes poor conditions among American workers. Proceeding the American annexation of Cuba and the Philippines, he writes, "Scanty wages for the laborers of America, reduced incomes for the producing classes, and for the youth enforced military service in foreign lands, and burdensome taxation for all those who may remain at home." [*55]

         The next year would come around, things still hadn't changed. In fact, they had only moved forward by an inch. It was the slow and grudging pace that the American political system was set to. In 1903, Ernest Poole did an investigation into child labor in the newspaper selling business. He writes, "In New York today there are some five thousand newsboys." [*56] He personally talked with many of the newsies to discover the facts. One child, he writes, "...had begun selling papers when eight years old..." [*57] It was later discovered that when war had broken out, newsboys had applied to the military service, though they were sometimes 4 or 5 years younger than required. Poole describes this: "From the Newsboys' Home ten went to Cuba in the late war, swearing they were of age, and I know of two more who returned last year from the Philippines." [*58] An article that appeared in a 1903 Chicago Tribune upheld the idea that labor for children could benefit them, if it wasn't cruel or destructive -- that, if they don't even learn a skill, at least they learn some moral values. It states, "It is another thing to take a child and work it for 12 hours a night at a clattering machine, which forces the child to keep pace with its own cruel speed, which teaches the child nothing but a single mechanical movement, and which in the course of a few years changes the child, despite all original possibilities, into a shaken, rickety, unskilled incompetent." [*59] In a longer section, the article reads...

    "K. D." interviewed a little girl working in a silk factory. The little girl was hypothetically and by affidavit 13 years of age. Her observations are worth more than many sermons. She said:

    "When I first went to work at night the long standing hurt me very much. My feet burned so that I cried. My knees hurt me worse than my feet, and my back pained all of the time. Mother cried when I told her about it. So I didn't tell her any more. It does not hurt me so much now. But I feel tired all the time. I do not feel near so tired, though, as I did when I worked all night. My eyes hurt me, too, from watching the threads. The doctor says my eyes will be spoiled if I work at night. After I have watched the threads I can see threads everywhere. When I look at other things there are threads running across them. Sometimes I think the threads are going to cut my eyes." [*60]

         The Socialist and Communist movement, as well as all movements that held the strong and bold idea of Worker Solidarity, would finally make some progress in these early years. Though the opponents they faced were as strong as ever, a slow and unmoving publicly would finally start listening to their reason. A law was passed requiring all children to have an affidavit to be employed. Fred S. Hall describes a typical scene of children obtaining this affidavit with the end of school: "For four, five, and in some cases, six hours, they stood there -- two hundred children crowded into a superheated room intended for less than fifty." [*61] A law that was intended to help children had, for this very scene, made things harder on them. I do not think that any universal rule about reform or politics, though, can be deducted from this one example, or any one example. Hall describes the labor that children will be forced to endure: "...they are released, but for what? -- released in nearly five thousand cases in the borough of Manhattan in order to work ten hours a day in factories and stores throughout the hot summer months." [*62] On August 22nd of 1903, a group of physicians, known as the American Institute of Homoeopathy, would pass resolutions against child labor. In the article published in Charities, they stated, "The employment of children interferes with their education, arrests their normal physical development, causes disease, frequently undermines their constitutions and leads to premature age and early death; it is, therefore, a menace to the public health and to the prosperity of the working people." [*63] Again, we are forced to observe the idea that intensive physical labor on children will deform and dwarf them. It was something that was commonly known among every laboring family for more than a century. And only now, it is recognized by a qualified group of physicians. Even with their recognition of it, the cruelty of child labor would still go on for more than decades.

         Even with the widespread knowledge of the sweatshops, they still were maintained as an intrinsic part of the economy of the early 1900's. In 1905, Annie S. Daniel composed an article describing the awful conditions of these sweatshops. She writes, "In the busy season a woman will frequently not have more than five hours rest in the twenty-four." [*64] Child labor is still an instrumental part of it, as well. She writes further, "Children over 8 years of age who attend school begin work immediately after school hours, and frequently work until late at night, and on Saturdays and Sundays." [*65] In a longer section, she writes...

    "Home" as pictured in sentimental songs and stories was in extreme contrast with filthy dark tenements on the East Side. Here crowded rooms doubled as places to both live and earn needed income. Mothers enlisted the youngest children as helpers to put finishing stitches into garments and finery that was manufactured elsewhere and sold uptown to the rich.


    The workers, poor, helpless, ignorant foreigners, work on in dirt, often in filth unspeakable, in the presence of all contagious and other diseases, and in apartments in which the sun enters only at noon or never at all.... During the summer, and then only for about two hours, daylight (not sunlight) came in. This daylight lasted two months and for this place of three air-shaft rooms, ten dollars per month was paid. Three years of life in this apartment killed the woman. The finishers are made up of the old and the young, the sick and the well. As soon as a little child can be of the least possible help, it must add to the family income by taking a share in the family toil. A child 3 years old can straighten out tobacco leaves or stick the rims which form the stamens of artificial flowers through the petals. He can put the covers on paper boxes at four years. He can do some of the pasting of paper boxes, although as a rule this requires a child of 6 to 8 years. But from 4 to 6 years he can sew on buttons and pull basting threads. A girl from 8 to 12 can finish trousers as well as her mother. After she is 12, if of good size, she can earn more money in a factory. The boys do practically the same work as the girls, except that they leave the home work earlier, and enter street work, as peddlers, bootblacks, and newsboys. I have seen but two children under 3 years of age working in tenements, one a boy 2 1/2 years old who assisted the mother and 4 other children under 12 years in making artificial flowers. The other, and extraordinary case of a child of 1 1/2 years, who assisted at a kind of passementerie. [*66]

         Prejudice was still a part of the policy practiced by those early Capitalists. Annie Daniel describes: "The average weekly income from the man's work was $3.81. [But...] The actual amount of money which the women earned averaged $1.04 per week." [*67] As much as child labor was an important part of the production process in sweatshops, by what age would one think that children begin laboring? When we hear of numbers like 8 years old, or 9 years old, or 10 or 11 years old, we are horrified that such a life could so early on be sacrificed for the sake of profit. But, no, a child who started labor at the years of 8 years old has had some luck in their life, as it was commonplace for children from age 3 to start working in sweatshops. Daniel writes again, "A Child from 3 to 10 or 12 years adds by its labor from 50 cents to $1.50 per week to the family income. The hours of the child are as long as its strength endures or the work remains. A child 3 years old can work continuously from 1 1/2 to 2 hours at a time; a child 10 years old can work 12 hours." [*68] Finally, Daniel writes...

    The sick as long as they can hold their heads up, must work to pay for the cost of their living. As soon as they are convalescent they must begin again. The other day a girl of 8 years was dismissed from the diphtheria hospital after a severe attack of the disease. Almost immediately she was working at women's collars, although scarcely able to walk across the room alone.


    The particular dangers to the child's health are such as can be induced by the confinement in the house, in an atmosphere always foul. The bad light under which the child works causes a continual eye-strain, from the effects of which the child will suffer all its life. The brain of the child under 8 years of age is not developed sufficiently to bear fixed attention. Hence it must be continually forced to fix its attention to the work and in doing this an irreparable damage is done to the developing brain.


    The women usually begin about 5 A.M., taking a cup of coffee, working steadily without stopping from 4 to 6 hours. When the work must be finished at a fixed time, they usually work until midnight or until 1 or 2 A.M.; nothing will be allowed to interfere with it. I frequently make a medical visit during which the work is not stopped one minute. Recently I told a woman to stop her work on paper boxes long enough to get me a spoon and towel. She said that it was absolutely impossible to stop a minute. Unless the work was at the factory at a certain hour, she could not get the money needed to pay the month's rent, then over-due.


    The amount of pay received varies with the kind of work, from 1 1/2 cents an hour to 10 cents--very rarely more. The little children, according to their ages, earn from 50 cents to $2.00 per week. A girl of 10 to 12 years can earn as much as a woman at certain kinds of work...


    We have a new law recently in effect which provides that the tenement-house must be licensed for home-work and not the apartment. After an inspection by the labor inspector and consultations with the health department, if everything is found in good order, the owner is given a license. This shall be (the law does not say must be) posted in the public hall on the entrance floor of the building and the buildings be inspected every six months at least. I have a list of tenements licensed by the Labor Bureau in my neighborhood. I have been in 38 of these houses. The license was posted in 12. [*69]

         Also in the year of 1905, R. R. Wright Jr. would do a study on the conditions of industrial unrest. When strikes for better conditions rose up constantly, the class of people used as strike-breakers, or "scabs," were described as, "...women, girls and men ..." [*70] The discrimination of the Capitalists of this era was commonplace. Wright describes: "Yet it still remains that in times of industrial peace the more desirable places are closed against Negroes, either because the employers will not hire them or the men will not work with them." [*71] and elsewhere he further writes, "Often an employer did not employ a Negro simply 'because he had never had any' or 'because he preferred whites,' or because at some time in the past he had had some trouble with an individual Negro." [*72] Finally, he describes in a slightly longer section abuses committed against the wage-earning class...

    The next great struggle in which Negroes were engaged was the stockyards' strike. On Tuesday, July 12, nearly fifty thousand men, many of whom were Negroes, stopped work at the command of Michael Donnelly, president of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen, who had organized the stockyards' unions and who conducted the strike. The grounds for the strike were the refusal of the packers to grant to the unskilled men a minimum wage of eighteen and one-half cents per hour, and an equalization of the wages of skilled men. The strike was general in the West and involved all the large houses. [*73]

         Still describing the prejudices of the era, John Daniels writes in 1905, "None of the department stores, for instance, ever employ Negro salesmen or saleswomen, for this reason." [*74] The wages of the workers, particularly the laborers of the lowest class, would be paid horrendously. In 1906, J. W. Hart writes...

    The men who work for fifteen cents an hour at uncertain employment cannot give their children that which every child is entitled to. Those of us who receive "good wages" cannot do it. The articles on the care of children ... have no value to poor people. It is mockery to tell such men to give their children fresh air and sunshine, fresh milk and eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables -- how can the ill-paid men buy anything fresh? [*75]

         Mary Sherman would write an article describing the living conditions of children in poverty in 1906, writing, "A young girl, living on Madison street, worked in one of these factories twelve hours a day during the Christmas rush. Her regular hours are from 7.15 to 5.45, with half an hour at noon, making a ten-hour day. In addition to this work in the factory, she does work at home at night with the help of her mother and aunt." [*76] In an article published in a 1906 to 1907 journal volume, Mary Van Kleeck writes of working women, "While they faced similar long hours and dangerous working conditions as men did, the fact that many played a second role as mothers - or would be mothers in the future - generated special concern for the physical and moral abuse they experienced." [*77] In New York City, there were 130,000 women working, and a total of 39,000 factories. But, the working conditions of these places were unbearable. Van Kleeck further describes the working conditions of women in the early 1900's: "Do you realize that many of them stand all day at work, many operate dangerous machines, many work in air laden with steam or dusty fiber, many work in dark, dirty, ill-ventilated rooms, all work at a high pressure of speed?" [*78] Again in the examination of the factories and industries of this Capitalist "utopia," we find that child labor runs rampant. Van Kleeck offers her observations: "...it is by no means uncommon to find young girls in the factories of New York working twelve, thirteen, even fourteen hours in a day." [*79] In general she further describes the work that these New York wage-earners were forced to endure, "Ten hours make a long day spent in watching and feeding a needle which sets 4,000 stitches a minute; or treading in standing position the pedals of an ironing machine." [*80]

         I use the phrase "forced to endure." Is this a just phrase to use? Am I being biased towards the worker and am holding prejudices of my own against the Capitalist class? Or, as an American patriot may utter, does not each person have the right to enter into any contract that they wish? The sad but honest answer is a no: we are not free, we do not have these rights. So long as we are under the constant threat of starvation, we must submit to those who will alleviate this threat -- and while death would be so much more alleviating than living the life that Capitalists have provided for the workers, it is by human nature that these people have given in to the demands of the Capitalist. It was this principle of a subsistence wage that I demonstrated in the previous chapter, that we are really now seeing its effect on the population. A person can argue all that they will, but the observations of a thousand sociologists, the pages of every history book, and the words of the downtrodden workers do not lie: to live a life through a subsistence wage has created such tragedy and horror -- it has made it difficult for the educated world to sleep knowing what has happened and gone unrecompensed. Mary Van Kleeck describes the conditions under which little girls were forced to labor in...

    They begin work at eight in the morning,
    They do not stop working until ten o'clock at night.
    They have a half-hour for dinner and a half-hour for supper, Thirteen hours a day--seventy-eight hours a week,
    Wages--$6.00 a week.
    They would "probably" be discharged if they refused to work overtime.

    On the back of the report were these words: "girl is at home--tired out--has a bad cough. [*81]

         In observing the injustice of these industrial conditions, reformers of every persuasion worked to end the brutality. The great deal of church leaders were unknown of these cruelties, and those who were absent-minded but still knew of them, placed the blame on society's lack of piety -- while every good person, found in every religious and social group, has worked to end the way things are. Laws were passed in the late 1800's to limit work to sixty hours a week. However, Mary Van Kleeck describes the practice of this...

    The story is brief in the telling but long and burdensome in the living. Seventy-eight hours are eighteen hours longer than sixty, and the sixty hours law is twenty years old. Yet in December, 1905, the Factory Department writes:

    Yours of the 18th instant, calling my attention to violations of the sixty hour a week law is received. * * * It is impossible to even estimate the number of offenders, but I would place them between 5,000 and 10,000 in this city. [*82]

         The law was impotent to be imposed. Law enforcement was intent on catching the thief who stole bread, because the working conditions were too burdensome on him. For the Capitalist, a fine would be imposed, but for a Proletarian, a lifetime prison sentence was enforced. Mary Van Kleeck describes further other working conditions of the poor workers...

    In a paper-box factory in New York city a girl operates the cutting machine. To keep one's hands clear of the stroke of the knife requires constant watchfulness, yet no protection is provided. The guard which was invented to prevent accidents limits the output by one-half, and if this girl did not remove it she would lose her position because she would be too slow to make her machine profitable to her employer. During the rush season, which lasts several months, this girl and all the others in the factory (they number three to four hundred) work from 7:45 in the morning until 8 at night, with a half hour for lunch and no time for supper. This continues every day in the week except Saturday, when they stop at 4:30 in order that the most poorly paid girls (who earn $2.50 a week) may have time to clean the machinery. They frequently work on Sunday, making a total of more than seventy hours a week. To the question, "Would you be discharged if you refused to work overtime?" the answer was, "Yes." The danger to this girl from a working day of nearly twelve hours lasting through several months is manifest.


    Last January a theatrical company ordered costumes to be made by a dress-maker in the shortest possible time. Through the week the girls who were filling the order did not leave the work-room until eight or nine at night but when Saturday morning came the costumes were still far from finished. Work began at eight o'clock; at noon the girls took their usual half hour for lunch; when evening came they were given only a few minutes for supper, hastily eaten while sewing. At midnight the mother of one of the girls went to the shop to see whether her daughter was still there. She was told to go home; that the girls must stay until the order was finished. It was not until half-past two Sunday morning that they left the work-room after a "day's" work of eighteen hours.

    In the making of these actresses' costumes there were at least two violations of the law-- work was done on Sunday, and women were employed after nine o'clock at night. It is concerning such violations as this that Commissioner Sherman in his report dated January 3, 1906, said: "The provision prohibiting night work is openly violated especially in the employment of women over twenty-one, and the department has feared to test this particular prohibition because it is so closely joined with the prohibition of night work by male and female minors, that in case of an adverse decision, both prohibitions might be held to fall together." [*83]

         Just how many female workers were abused under this system of Free Trade in the United States? Mary Van Kleeck writes, "We have more than five million women in industry in the United States and they are multiplying year by year. Yet we have no settled policy to guide their welfare." [*84] She further writes, "Many factories are as badly built, as dark, unsanitary and unwholesome, as the worst tenement. More is the pity that in so many cases the same individuals should live in the one and work in the other!" [*85] and "It is widely known that in New York women are in binderies which make a regular practice of all-night work. Such violations are easy to discover; a single visit from an inspector after nine o'clock is sufficient." [*86] And, again she writes...

    They work overtime "all year around." They begin work at 8 o'clock in the morning. They do not stop work until 11 or 12 o'clock at night. On Saturday they work until 9:30. They have a half-hour for lunch and a half-hour for supper. They work overtime four days in the week -stopping at 5:30 two days. They would be discharged if they refused to work overtime.


    In a laundry which forms part of a certain factory in New York city there are several machines used for ironing white coats such as worn by barbers. The machines consists of two rollers- one the ironing board the other, heated by rows of gas jets within, serving as the iron. Each of these rollers is connected with its own pedal. The girls stand on small platforms, from which they step first upon one pedal with the right foot and then upon the other pedal with the left foot- pressing heavily in order to iron smoothly. One cent is the price paid for each coat ironed. Many hundred times between morning and evening must each girl tread her pedals in order to grind out her wage for the day. To stand all day at work, according to the testimony of physicians, involves great danger to the health of women. What than must be the danger of this constant treading, in a room where the air is laden with steam?


    The laundries which do "custom work" are notorious for long and irregular hours, many of them claiming that work must be finished regardless whether women lift and sort heavy wet clothes in a steam-filled atmosphere all day and a large part of the night. In view of this claim, interest attaches to the recent testimony of a laundry owner, who told a member of the Women's Trade Union League that until last spring he had "been obliged" to work his employees overtime. [*87]

         What we are finding again and again is a repetition of facts. The workers are forced to work 12 to even 20 hours a day, some of them children, in conditions which may maim and debilitate them. Finally, Van Kleeck writes...

    Last winter a young girl scarcely sixteen years old was receiving regular treatment from a tuberculosis clinic in one of the New York hospitals. She had been sent away to a sanatorium and had returned with a fair chance of recovery. Missing her from the clinic, the nurses investigated and found her working eleven to twelve hours a day in a lithographing house. Each day was striking a larger fraction away from her chance of cure.


    Back of factory conditions are homes with poor nutrition, dark rooms, impure air, dense crowding. And in many factories where women work are the same conditions--overcrowding, impure air, bad light. Added to these is the strain of work. Machines are run by steam or electricity; their speed cannot be regulated by the operator...


    ...some employers in that state [Illinois] kept women working during the night, sending young girls home through the streets at three and four o'clock in the morning in the city of Chicago. Others took advantage of their freedom of contract and lengthened their working day until they met an unexpected limitation of time through the fainting of several employees. [*88]

         In March of 1906, George W. Alger wrote a treatise defending the rights of laborers, their right to live and work without the fist of oppression constantly putting fear into them. He describes one case that would in fact turn the heart of the coldest man: "...the case of a girl whose hand was caught in the wheels of a dangerous machine and so mangled that it was necessary to cut off her arm at the shoulder. The accident was directly due to a violation by the employer of the statute which requires safety guards on this machinery." [*89] Lewis E. Palmer was a tenement inspector of the early 1900's, where new legislation came about to try and change society. He describes a day in his life...

    Next door to his "apartments," supported on one side by the wall of his building, was a miserable shack in front of which seated on old boxes were three women and two children, working over a pile of dirty rags, separating the woolen from the cotton material. The air was filled with dust from the clothes. One of the women was holding a nursing child that did not seem to mind the incessant jerking, as its mother ripped the rags apart. None of the workers looked up, as the pile must be finished before night. Here was a sample of the neighborhood life, and it could be imagined what the tenement might be like, even if it was a "new law" building. [*90]

         In 1908, Mary Van Kleeck would write another article, this one criticizing the widespread abuses of child labor in New York City tenements. Should would describe the condition as it existed there...

    In the most thickly populated districts of New York City, especially south of Fourteenth street, little children are often seen on the streets carrying large bundles of unfinished garments, or boxes containing materials for making artificial flowers. This work is given out by manufacturers or contractors to be finished in tenement homes, where the labor of children of any age may be utilized. For the laws of New York state, prohibiting the employment of children under fourteen years of age in factories, stores, or other specified work-places, have never been extended to home workrooms.


    No maker of artificial flowers can employ in his factory any child under fourteen years of age, but he may give out work to an Italian family, in whose tenement rooms flowers are made by six children, aged two and one- half, five, eight, ten, fourteen and sixteen years. In another family Angelo, aged fourteen years, cannot work legally in a factory until he reaches a higher grade in school, nor can he work at home during hours when school is in session, but his little sister Maria, aged three years, because she is not old enough to go to school and because the home work law contains no prohibition of child labor, may help her mother pull bastings and sew on buttons. A public school teacher notices that Eva and Mary R., aged eleven and ten years, are pale and under-nourished, but although the compulsory education law supports her in requiring their attendance in school during school hours, she cannot prevent their making flowers at home from three o'clock until nine or ten at night. Many good citizens would demand the prosecution of a manufacturer who employed in his factory Tony aged four years, Maria aged nine, Rose aged ten, Louisa aged eleven, and Josephine aged thirteen years. For such an offense the employer might be fined $100 for each child under fourteen years of age found at work in his factory. Yet public has not raised an effective protest against the same employer when he turns these children's home into a branch of his factory and gives them work in which event the smallest child in the family joins through long hours under a necessity as imperious in its demand for the constant work and attention of the child as would be the commands of a foreman in a factory. [*91]

         Elsewhere in the same article, we should describe the condition of another child, writing, "Another, although of school age, has been kept at home more or less regularly throughout the day, to make flowers or pull bastings." [*92] The word was so difficult and tiresome on the children, that it leached away their vitality. Van Kleeck writes again: "On the top floor of a licensed house on Sullivan street two children, Angelina aged eleven years, and Katharine aged eight years, were at work helping an older sister make roses at eight cents a gross.... Of Katharine, the younger, the teacher said, 'The child is very sleepy during school hours.'" [*93] And elsewhere still, "So small was the pay for flowers that she forced her two younger sisters to work steadily after school hours until eight o'clock at night, in order that together they might earn eighty cents a day, the wages paid for making, counting and bunching 1,440 small roses." [*94] And finally, "Nellie aged six years, Josephine aged eleven, and Josie aged nine, worked all day long, often until 10 o'clock at night "finishing" coats at four to six cents apiece." [*95] In 1908, A. J. McKelway closely examined the issue of child labor, and the use of compulsory education to prevent further abuses of this. Twenty million children would attend public schools in 1908, and of those, 5 million would drop out, and, McKelway writes, "For every one of these deserters, going into an occupation that has any advantage for the employee, four enter a cotton mill or become messengers or cash girls." [*96] He further writes...

    Rev. E. A. Seddon, told of his recent investigations in the mill villages of Mississippi and South Carolina. In the former state, fifty percent of the mill children were found to be illiterate and about the same proportion in South Carolina. Often the mill managers were found to be ignorant of the facts as to the illiteracy of their employees. There was found to be a large disproportion between the school enrollment and the school attendance.


    E. N. Clopper's discussion of the employment of children in street trades in Cincinnati gave an interesting glimpse into the life of newsboys and some of the modern work that is being done for their education and happiness. There are 900 newsboys in Cincinnati, he said.... Only about five percent of them, he said, are out of school illegally. [*97]

         Jane Addams is looked to by many as a pioneer in women's rights and a defender of the idea that charity and alms are a duty of all who sit in a high place in life. In 1909, she would write out her observations about the youth in the city streets. She illuminates one disturbing fact of the Civil War: "Of Lincoln's enlistment of two and a half million soldiers, a very large number were under twenty-one, some of them under eighteen, and still others were mere children under fifteen." [*98] She further writes...

    A further difficulty lies in the fact that this industrialism has gathered together multitudes of eager young creatures from all quarters of the earth as a labor supply for the countless factories and workshops, upon which the present industrial city is based. Never before in civilization have such numbers of young girls been suddenly released from the protection of the home and permitted to walk unattended upon city streets and to work under alien roofs; for the first time they are being prized more for their labor power than for their innocence, their tender beauty, their ephemeral gaiety. Society cares more for the products they manufacture than for their immemorial ability to reaffirm the charm of existence. Never before have such numbers of young boys earned money independently of the family life... [*99]

         The 1910 publication of Henry Demarest Lloyd's book describes the abuses of the Capitalist class upon the working class in the late 1800's. He writes, "The stockholders were reminded that 'many of the railroad’s men did not average wages of more than seventy-five cents a day.'" [*100] And elsewhere, "In March last the prominent Clearfield companies gave notice that wages must be reduced on the 1st of April... " [*101] He writes describing the conversation among the workers...

    Seventy-three millions, and more, accumulated by an enthusiast in competition in twenty-nine years of office work! Never before in the history of the desire of wealth had such a sight been seen. [But of his workers...]

    "The delay in the payment of my wages has reduced me almost to beggary. Had not the grocer helped me with credit in January and February, my children would have starved."

    An engineer said:

    "My family were sick in January. They had no doctor and no medicines. I could not get the money due me from the Wabash road."

    An old man, who watched a crossing,-an infirm old man, with a family,-said:

    "My rent is six dollars a month; my groceries are eighteen dollars. This leaves us one dollar a month for clothing, medicine, and other necessaries. My pay is twenty-five dollars a month, and I have to wait two months for that. We are on the edge of starvation." [*102]

         President Corbin, Capitalist of the Reading Iron Works, did all that he could to appease his self-interest, and did all that he could to do so rationally. The worker himself was alone, frightened, weak, and dependent, but the workers were fierce, bold, strong, and independent. By combining and organizing, workers could represent their interests with greater strength. But, President Corbin wrote this statement to his employees, "No member of any labor organization (except such as are purely beneficial or benevolent) will be employed by the Company, and every man engaging with the Company must sign a written agreement that so long as he is in its employ he will not belong to such an organization." [*103] Henry Demarest Lloyd writes of the same company: "The coal miners are kept from doing a full day’s work by having wagons to load withheld from them, and are kept from working steadily day by day by periodical lockouts when the companies want to manipulate the coal market." [*104] And of the horrific wages, he writes, "...like the ten cents an hour of the workers in the steel mills near Chicago or the sugar refineries near New York." [*105] Describing the child labor so common of this industry, Lloyd writes...

    One of the sights which this coal side of our civilization has to show is the presence of herds of little children of all ages, from six years upward, at work in the coal breakers, toiling in dirt, and air thick with carbon dust, from dawn to dark, of every day in the week except Sunday. These coal breakers are the only schools they know. A letter from the coal regions in the Philadelphia Press declares that "there are no schools in the world where more evil is learned or more innocence destroyed than in the breakers. It is shocking to watch the vile practices indulged in by these children, to hear the frightful oaths they use, to see their total disregard for religion and humanity." In the upper part of Luzerne County, out of 22,000 inhabitants 3000 are children, between six and fifteen years of age, at work in this way." There is always a restlessness among the miners," an officer of one of the New York companies said, "when we are working them on half time." The latest news from the region of the coal combination is that the miners are so dissatisfied with the condition in which they are kept, by the suspension of work and the importation of competing Hungarian laborers in droves, that they are forming a combination of their own, a revival of the old Miners’ and Laborers’ Association, which was broken up by the labor troubles of 1874 and 1875." [*106]

         Lloyd writes elsewhere describing the conditions of these coal and railway workers, "In order to keep the miners disciplined and the coal market under-supplied, the railroads restrict work so that the miners often have to live for a month on what they can earn in six or eight days..." [*107] And elsewhere still: "Congress in 1893 ordered the railroads to equip their cars with automatic couplers and air brakes, to save the worse-than-war slaughter of the men. When the limit set by the law had been reached, December 1, 1897, most of the railroads were found to have failed to comply with the law, and were asking for extension." [*108] In 1910, Owen R. Lovejoy, the great reformer against child labor, wrote an article describing his six year struggle for the working child. In it, he describes, "In Massachusetts the factory child is confined 3120 hours a year; and in New York, where the eight-hour day prevails, he is still subjected to 2496 hours of confinement." [*109] He describes the horrendous conditions of these children: "Eyewitnesses of child labor were presenting from pulpit, press, and platform frequent tales of the maiming or death of little toilers crushed in the very act of their industrial sacrifice." [*110] In a longer section, he writes...

    A recent annual report of the Department of Mines in Pennsylvania showed that in one branch of the industry, viz.: slate picking in the coal breaker, the ratio of fatalities and accidents to boys sixteen years of age and under was 300 percent higher than to adults and minors above sixteen. At about the same time the annual report covering all industries under the jurisdiction of the Indiana Department of Factory Inspection showed the physical risk of children sixteen years of age and under to be 250 percent above that of other workers; while a report of the same order in Michigan showed 450 percent against the child.


    The youth is less cautious than the adult, therefore more susceptible to unusual dangers; information gathered through many years in older industrial civilizations demonstrates the excessive hazard to which working children are exposed; reports from the few commonwealths in America which offer a basis for computation corroborate this testimony; popular rumor indicates that scarcely a day passes without the sacrifice of some little child worker to the ranks of the crippled or to an untimely death.


    When, therefore, we found children ten years of age and under working from ten to twelve hours a night in Southern cotton mills; saw little boys under fourteen years coming from the over-heated glasshouse at two or three o'clock on raw winter mornings, careless of their exposure; saw groups of little newsboys and other street traders sleeping in the alleys and courts of our great cities after the exactions of their night labor, and learned from reports in New York and other cities of the high percentage of defective vision among school children, while as a matter of common knowledge many of these same children were spending from one to six hours every night on fine needlework or kindred occupation in dimly lighted and unventilated tenement rooms, we believed it a safe assumption that a campaign should be waged for the prohibition of industrial employment of all children under sixteen years at night. [*111]

         The process of production through using tenement houses, or sweatshops, was still in vogue in 1911. In an article by Elizabeth C. Watson, she describes the horrors of this system, a system which has only expanded with the passage of time, "...so it came about, and grew and grew, until now there are thirteen thousand some odd tenement houses in New York licensed by the bureau of factory inspection of the State Department of Labor, in which work given out by manufacturers and contractors can be made or finished in the homes, where the labor of all members of the family can be utilized without reference to age or factory law. [...] The house may contain one or forty families." [*112] With a government permit, tenement homes were allowed to produce...

    ...coats, vests, knee-pants, trousers, overalls, cloaks, hats, caps, suspenders, jerseys, blouses, dresses, waists, waistbands, underwear, neckwear, furs, fur trimmings, fur garments, skirts, shirts, aprons, purses, pocketbooks, slippers, paper boxes, paper bags, feathers, artificial flowers, cigarettes, cigars, umbrellas, or articles of rubber, nor for the purpose of manufacturing, preparing or packing macaroni, spaghetti, ice cream, ices, candy, confectionery, nuts or preserves... [*113]

    And without a government permit they could produce...

    ...finishing gloves, making buttonholes, hat frames, millinery ornaments, chiffon hats, baby bonnets, sleeve garters, rompers, Irish lace, silver brushes, dress shields, leather bows and buckles, all kinds of hemstitching, feather stitching and fancy hand work; embroidery of all kinds, such as on waists, dresses, silk vests, silk stockings, collars, underwear, table linen, chiffon gowns, infants' flannels, coats, sacques, knitting and crocheting of Angora hoods and mittens, slippers; making candle shades; stringing bead necklaces; crocheting gloves, mittens, silk rings; plaiting hat straws; making guimps, bibs, silver mesh bags; tag stringing; tying cords on fancy pencils, tying pencils on fancy programs; pasting labels on cigar and other boxes, cutting out embroideries; trimming all over and chiffon embroideries; beading slippers, nets and lace; setting stones in celluloid combs, artificial jewelry and hat pins; making passementerie; embroidering pillow tops; making maline bows of human hair; sorting and sewing buttons on cards, covering buttons, making kimonas, tassels, pompons, evening scarfs and countless other things... [*114]

         Elsewhere in the article by Elizabeth C. Watson, the descriptions of pain and misery for the workers are described: "For instance, in one house in which the license had been revoked on account of unsanitary conditions, and in which there had been several cases of contagious disease, I found flower making, garment finishing, and fur work." -- "In one paper, during a period of two weeks' time chosen at random, there were 205 advertisements for women to take work home--almost fifteen advertisements a day. Some of these, for crochet workers on babies' hoods and bootees, wanted a hundred workers at a time and continued their advertisement many days." -- "...girls of eight, nine and ten years can and do crochet lace, though lace making is a comparatively minor industry." -- "But even here the child is utilized in carrying work to and from factories and shops. (A very small child with a very big bundle of clothing--as big as itself--is a common sight in the tenement districts.)" -- "...homework factories with their inmates working from daylight to six, eight, ten o'clock and even later in the night..." -- "What home influences can there be where a mother and three children, (the youngest just five), having been in this country, but four months and speaking no English, are making artificial flower wreaths (in an unlicensed house) at six cents a dozen wreaths, day in and day out?" -- "In one house (above one of these shops), occupied by fourteen families, we found twenty-eight children under twelve years of age busily plying this trade." -- "So, to supplement the family income, the children work, tying these feathers, bringing all kinds of eye trouble and strain in their wake, remaining out of school--whenever possible." [*115] Finally, Watson describes one particular incident of her observations...

    The halls and stairways in this house were in unspeakable condition. A series of complaints had been filed against it in the Tenement House Department and the apartment of the family engaged in coffee sorting was deplorably out of repair and dirty. Bags of broken coffee were bought at a nominal price from a coffee factory in a nearby street, and taken home, where all the children of the family, plus a small cousin from a neighboring apartment, sorted the whole beans from the broken ones. The two little girls of the family, one aged nine the other eleven, were continually staying out of school and only attended enough days to keep off the truant list. [*116]

         In an undated article that I assume to be written around 1910, possibly early, possibly later, Harriet Van der Vaart describes the conditions of children in the glass works, in the state of Illinois. Yet another confirmation that industrial labor in extensive amounts will destroy the body, she writes, "One manufacturer admitted to me that the boys in the glass industry generally were smaller and not as well developed as the boys who had lived a normal life outside." [*117] The life of the child, as it consisted almost a century ago, was in fact quite brutal. It was a life of endless toil. She writes further, "Night work is not prohibited in Indiana. It was quite the customary thing for school children to go into the factory at night and work until eleven and twelve o'clock and go to school during the day." [*118] Robert Green Ingersoll, defender of labor and Freethought, wrote, "For a man to get up before daylight and work till after dark, life is of no particular importance. He simply earns enough one day to prepare himself to work another. His whole life is spent in want and toil, and such a life is without value." [*119] This quote by Ingersoll is of significant value, because it express quite clearly what any humane person could feel when observing the economic system of such a society. Further describing the horrors of this child labor, Van der Vaart writes...

    Around all the factories there is a high board fence, and on top of this fence are two or three barbed wires. When I inquired at one of the factories the reasons for this, one of the reasons given me by one factory was, "Well, it keeps the boys in for one thing." The glass blowers are very dependent upon their helpers, and if the boys leave at a critical time the glass blowers are obliged to stop their work.


    On my way to the office I was overtaken by two girls, who told me that anyone could walk in, and one of them said, "I will take you where the children work, "we girls hide the kids when the factory inspectors come in." I said: "Why do you do it?" "O, well, I would like to be hid if I was their age; but," she said, "I think it is a mistake to send them to work so young. They are employing boys for thirty-five and forty cents a day to do men's work." [*120]

         In 1917, Joseph Dana Miller stepped up to oppose the brutality that was child labor, the pain and misery that infected millions of lives. Giving a broad view of how widespread the problem was, he writes, "Of all the children 10 to 15 in the United States more than one in six, or 1,990,225 in 1910 were found at work. More than half of these were less than 14 years old.(1) The majority were engaged in various forms of agriculture." [*121] I imagine, though, that this number is lower than the actual number of children employed. With all of the legislation by now, that prohibited child labor, most of the children employed were illegally employed, and were not counted on payroll. By 1815, the number of children employed was already estimated to be in the millions. With the progression of technology, I do not see any reason to believe that this number would decrease. Describing further the debilitating effects of labor on children, Miller writes again, "Investigation has revealed that in the berry and vegetable fields of Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey hundreds of children go with their parents to supply the demand for labor to pick the crops. They return from the country weakened by overwork, improper food and want of proper supervision." [*122] In the salt, oil, and gas wells, and in the public service industries, there were hundreds of children employed. In quarries, beverage industries, chemical industry, paper industries, professional service industries, metal industries, clay, glass and stone industries, cigar and tobacco industries, leather industries, printing and bookbinding industries, and mines, the amount of children was counted by the thousands. In iron and steel industries, lumber and furniture industries, clothing industries, transportation industries, miscellaneous industries, building and hand trades industries, and textile industries, the amount of children in each was several 10,000. The trade industries and the domestic and personal service industries were both over 100,000 children employed. The agriculture industry had over one million children employed. [*123] The National Child Labor Committee writes, "Over 122,000 children between the ages of 10 and 16 are at work in factories in States where they may work 9, 10, or 11 hours a day." [*124] Miller writes, describing some more appalling conditions, "Many youthful workers are still employed in the cigar making industry despite the efforts of the Cigar Makers' Union to protect them from work that is unhealthful and carried on often under the most unsanitary conditions." [*125] Finally, Miller writes in a longer section...

    The facts are, despite labor legislation(6) and the well meant efforts of labor and trade organizations, that hundreds of thousands of children are at work who should be at school or play, the great majority at miserably low wages,(7) and in hopelessly monotonous occupations. Most all so engaged are learning nothing that will be of any money-earning advantage to them as they grow older.(8) The industrial surroundings of great numbers of these little workers are unsanitary and sometimes fraught with grave hazards; the environment is of necessity corrupting to the moral fibre of the young, and men and women so reared are not likely to make good citizens in the days when the Republic shall require them.

    [6. Special attention was given to the subject of illegal employment. Almost one third of the children (203, or 32.6 percent) had at one time or another worked under illegal condition, some of them having been so employed more than once. About one-sixth (102) were working illegally at the time of the investigation. Studies of child labor in Pawtucket and Woonsocket Rhode Island, Plymouth and Hazleton in Pennsylvania, Columbia, S. C., Columbus, Ga., and a group of three small mill towns near Columbus, partly in Georgia and partly in Alabama. -- U. S. Labor Bulletin, 175.

    7. Practically 90 percent of the boys and all of the girls entered industries whose average weekly wage for all employees is under $10; 7 percent of the boys entered industries whose average weekly wage is between $10 and $15 and only three percent entered industries whose average wage is $15 or over. -- U. S. Labor Bulletin, 175.

    8. Much of the work undertaken by the children is of such a character that it requires little mental training; 50.6 percent of the employers say that no education whatever is needed by the larger number of their employees to do the best work. -- U. S. Labor Bulletin, 175.] [*126]

         In 1923, Francis Ysidro Edgeworth, a somewhat prominent economist, describes the unemployment that arose among hard-working men, "...the hasty substitution of low-paid female operatives for well-paid men..." [*127] Between the years of 1905 and 1937, Lewis Hine, an employee of the National Child Labor Committee, would take pictures of child labor that occurred in the era, to give a face to such a widespread cruelty. In one compilation covering these years, there were a great deal of horrors in the form of photographs The editor of this compilation writes, America is "a situation in which premature entry into the industrial process was robbing two million children of an education and a future." [*128] Speaking of the photographer's personal history, Karl Seinorth writes, that Lewis Hine "found a job as a laborer in a furniture factory, where he worked thirteen hours a day for four dollars a week." [*129] Elsewhere, he writes, "Instead of attending school, children worked twelve-hour shifts in the heat or the cold, breathing musty air and rarely seeing the light of day." [*130] The photographs in this collection include a handicapped steel worker who lost his leg from unsafe factory conditions, [*131] children pulling a wagon of scrap wood, [*132] fifty three children, aged 6 to 16, working in a single coal mine, [*133] a very young boy (one of many) working night shifts in a West Virginia glass factory, [*134] a newsie carrying a newspaper which is about one third his own size (him probably being four to six years old), [*135] several newsies (age 8 to 10) selling newspapers in a saloon at night, [*136] a group of six, young newsies working at the Brooklyn bridge at midnight, [*137] a thirteen year old boy working to carry messages, working from noon till 10:30 P.M., says he has been doing this for a year and a half, [*138] children of age 6 or 7 picking cotton in fields barefoot, [*139] a boy lost his arm running a saw in a box factory, [*140] a small legion of children (aged 4 to 10) working picking cotton, [*141] a five year old shrimp picker working in a Mississippi cannery, [*142] a young boy carries the work from his sweatshop, [*143] a five or six year old girl picking Long Island potatoes, [*144] children forced to work in dangerous mills with dangerous machinery without even having shoes on, [*145] and a worker standing without an arm because of an accident in the steel mills. [*146]

         Finally, with the aid of these reformers and their revolutionary ideas, child labor would -- for the most part -- be made illegal in the United States. Of course, even though society would emerge from the 1930's and 1940's with this great problem off its hands, there would be other ills. In 1967, Ralph Nader wrote an article on the safety of workers whose profession includes X-rays. He writes, "A John Hopkins University study concludes that X-ray technicians have a statistically significant greater-than-average chance of producing mongoloid children." [*147] The discrimination that was inherent in hiring practices of the early 1900's Capitalists would still be present by the late 1960's. In 1967, James Ridgeway and David Sanford write, "...a Harlem antipoverty group that had charged GM discriminated against Negroes in its hiring practices..." [*148] In an article written by Ralph Nader and co-authored by Jerome Gordon, 1968, they describe the terrors that awaited workers at their place of employment...

    Every working day 55 workers die, 8,500 are disabled and 27,200 are injured (a case can be made that these data are underenumerated by at least 25 percent annually.)

    Unlike traumatic injuries which are relatively visible, the longer-range injuries causing insidious deteriorating of the human body come from exposure to coal dust, asbestos, lead, cadmium, berylium, cotton dust, carbon monoxide, chemicals, dyes, radiaton, pesticides, benzene and thousands of other toxic materials. Industrial uses of chemicals are growing so rapidly that voluntary exposure limits have been set for only 400 of the 6,000 chemicals in substantial use. [*149]

         The conditions which had hindered the health of workers only centuries early still plagued the workers of the 50's, 60's, and 70's. Still describing the conditions, Nader writes, "One plant in Pennsylvania (a right-of-entry state) was using the chemical beta naphthylamine, which a health specialist learned was causing carcinoma of the bladder. The plant promptly moved to Georgia (not a right-of-entry state) and resumed operations unhindered." [*150] And, elsewhere, too, "One datum in his [Dr. John Zalinksy's] testimony: half of the nation's 137,000 coal miners suffer from the cruel dust disease, pnuemoconiosis of the lungs; they breathe with difficulty and spit black sputum daily." [*151] Finally, he writes...

    A Dr. John Zalinsky told us about 30 cases of chronic lung disease caused by exposure to "safe" levels of beryllium dust. He was told by his company's management that if he published these cases in the medical literature he would have to look for another job. He was torn between professional honesty and personal security -- he had had one heart attack and would have difficulty finding another job. Before he was able to resolve this dilemma, he died from another heart attack. His material has never been published.

    I have personal knowledge of a plant which uses manganese, long known to be a toxic metal. Through bitter experience, management recently found that it poisoned the nervous system, causing permanent brain damage in exposed workers. They are now using a simple test, no more complicated than a prick on the finger, to detect exposure to manganese long before permanent nerve injury occurs. Hundreds of other companies who now use manganese do not have the advantage of knowing this simple test because it has not been published in this country.

    Unless each physician, each industrial hygienist and safety engineer has available to him the research experience of all of those who preceded him in his profession, he must duplicate the research in every case, often at the cost of human life. [*152]

         The condition of black lung, which had infected millions of children in the past centuries, was still a problem facing workers in the United States. Describing it in 1968, Ralph Nader writes...

    It starts with breathlessness and ends with death. Along the way, the victim can experience bronchitis, emphysema, an enlarged heart and progressive massive fibrosis leading to severe respiratory disability. The disease is coal pnuemoconiosis. In 1963, a US Public Health Service study concluded that, at the very least, about one of every 10 active bituminous coal miners and one in five inactive minors have it.


    The PHS study concluded that death rates for coal miners were twice that of the general working male population, while death rates for diseases of respiratory system were about five times that for the general working male population. [*153]

         In the year 1968, J. V. Reistrup would write an article expounding upon the death toll that occurs from unsafe working conditions. As far as the after-effects of a death, there can be no words to describe the grief and pain that can accompany the loss of a loved one, whether by natural or unnatural means. Perhaps there is, or will be, an author who can use 1,000 pages to try and describe what it is like to live with and to feel the fading pulse of one who has meant everything to you, and do it so accurately that it convinces the reader that what they read has happened to themselves. Reistrup writes, "Eola Garner's husband, Douglas, was one of the hundreds who contracted, or will contract, fatal lung cancer after mining the same newly precious element. His widow now supports their two teen-age children on Social Security payments, for Mrs. Garner failed even to collect workmen's compensation after her husband's death." [*154] And elsewhere he writes: "By early 1967, the number of uranium miners already dead of lung cancer was reported at about 50. Within a few months, the total being given was 115. Before projections of future deaths -- from radiation already received -- were written off as unscientific, numbers ranging to over 1,000 were mentioned." [*155] Also in the year 1968, Eric Geller described deceptive methods of recruitment used by certain industries. He writes, "Thus in February 1968 the Federal Trade Commission ordered American Marketing Associates Inc. (New Standard Encyclopedia) of Philadelphia to cease using deceptive means to recruit personnel. The company advertised that its "trainees" receive $89 a week, whereas 'in reality, they are hired as door-to-door salesmen and receive no salary whatever but only a commission on sales.'" [*156] And of another encyclopedia, he writes, "Encyclopedia Britannica is still 'guaranteeing' prospective salesmen $500 per month; Collier's also is advertising lucrative rewards. However, one salesman recently reported in Seattle magazine that his total earnings in his first month were $64." [*157]

         In the year 1969, the cases of Black Lung would still be with the American worker. Every year, many would die from this horrible condition because of the failure of American Capitalists to install safety devices in their mines. While the great part of Europe protected its miners and guaranteed a pension if anything were in fact to happen, American workers were still at great risk. In a 1969 article, Robert Coles and Harry Huge, they interviewed one miner, who told them...

    I've had it. I'm an old man at 31. I started in the mines when I was 16, and no one asked any questions. My daddy, he started when he was 11. I was lucky to have a job. Hereabouts if you have a job, you feel like you're lucky and you give the foreman every ounce of energy you've got. Some of our kinfolk, they never went to the mines, and they near starve to death and freeze to death, come every winter. But you know, as bad as it is for them, I'm beginning to think they're better off than me and my brother. They don't see the money we do -- if we live and don't get sick -- and they can't have the things we buy. But I'd rather have it real, real terrible up in the hollows than end up like my brother -- he got killed, in a second, just like that. The roof fell in on him down in the mine. [*158]

         "...the explosion in 1968 that claimed 78 lives in Consolidated Coal Company's No. 9 mine near Farmingham was forgotten; it was just one more in an apparently endless succession, all recorded carefully by the Interior Department's Bureau of Mines." so writes Robert Coles and Harry Huge in their article. [*159] They also write, "The Surgeon General of the United States has said that 'conservatively speaking' over 10,000 miners suffer from 'black lung disease,' which means that most if not all miners have it, suffer every day from it, and in significant numbers die from it, die because, literally, the lungs become increasingly scarred, lifeless, useless -- and eventually the time comes for the last breath to be taken. Anyone who has seen a miner waging that battle, fighting for breath as a drowning man does for air, can never forget it." [*160] One miner told these reporters, "If you start talking about the danger, they'll fine you as a troublemaker." [*161] And, quoting the facts, they write, "Disabled beneficiaries [miners] 50 to 64 years of age had death rates higher than persons 75 to 84 years of age." [*162] Finally, these authors write...

    In this century about 100,000 men have been crushed to death, burnt to death, choked to death in the coal mines, and since 1930, approximately 1.5 million serious injuries have been recorded. Over 40,00 men have been permanently or partially disabled -- and for every minor officially declared disabled, more than one has tried and failed to have his hurt, ailing body so recognized. In 1907, 3,242 miners were killed. In 1952, the year President Truman signed a Coal Mine Safety Act which he insisted was inadequate, 548 minors died in accidents. In 1962 another 220 men died underground; and lest anyone suppose that things are getting better, the accident rate per thousand miners has increased since 1952 from 1.37 to 1.50. All in all, then, mining has become more hazardous for the 150,000 or so men who work in about 5,500 deep mines and 2,200 surface ones. Since Harry Truman severely criticized Congress for failing to enact even half-satisfactory legislation to protect the safety of miners, over 200,000 miners have been injured, and today the coal companies continue to confront their workers with awful risks and dangers, more of them than any other major industry in America dares allow. Each month the journal put out by the United Mine Workers spells out the result: 29 killed in August, 1968; 24 in September; and on and on. Even before November more men were killed in 1968 (182) than in 1967 (173). [*163]

    And when interviewing a miner...

    Of course, when I first asked the company doctor if anything was wrong, because I have trouble breathing, he didn't even want to listen to my chest. He just came over to me from across the room and he said: "Look, if you want to stay working, you'd better not complain, you'd better not mention this." I looked at him as though he was a crook or something. Then I guess he just got mad, because he raised his voice at me: "Every miner has trouble with his breathing one time or another. So why should you start complaining. Don't you talk to your buddies? Haven't they all got the same troubles?" And he was right there -- we all do. And he was right with the last thing he told me, before I left: "Look, you're better off working than complaining. You'll die faster from not eating than from some coal dust in your lungs. You know what I said? I said, "You're right, doctor." You know how he's right? I could be on my deathbed -- from not eating or from "Black lung," either of them -- and between the doctors like him, and all those lawyers they've got, and the bosses and the country courthouse people, I'd still not get a cent from the company or the welfare people or Washington or anyplace. And every miner knows that. [*164]

    Section III: Conclusion

         The cruelty of the Capitalist class, unforgiving as much as it was merciless, can be explained in the previous chapter. How they obtained their desires, how they proceeded out their wills, and how they gathered the power to make themselves kings in a world full of slaves, is entirely understandable with a basic understanding of the system of Capitalism. When examining these histories, it is difficult to think what it may have been like to live only so many decades or centuries ago. As the reader recounts these written documents, like small memories in a past that is nearly forgotten, they may imagine for a few moments what it exactly was like to live as these people do. Experience of suffering has been the greatest defender of a humane ethic. Some people who read these reports say, "These things are terrible, horrible, without charity or mercy. People shouldn't have done these things." These people have already taken a step toward Socialism. Others read these reports and reply, "These things are unjust, cruel, brutal, thoughtless, heartless, and immoral. They violate a sacred code of justice, and those who commit these acts should be punished as are murderers and rapists." These people have already taken a step toward Communism. With all this said, I continue to the next chapter, where I deal with abuse of the worker as it is happening today.



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