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element was gradually extinguishing the male operative.* In the manufacturing towns of Fall River, Lawrence, Lowell, etc., the family life was so demoralized that men were obliged to be supported in idleness by mothers, wives, or sisters or children, because no work was to be had for them in the mills. It was said that some of these men, displaced by the light-running machinery that a child's hand might guide, remained at home and did the housework and minded the children, while the women went forth as the breadwinners ; others, less patient, took to loafing, and ended generally in prisons. “ This," as Engels termed it, "insane state of things " affected all unfavorably. Women learned to care so little for themselves that it was said “a girl in Fall River comes out of the mill with bare feet and a shawl thrown over her head, and all she cares for is a loaf of bread and a mug of beer.” Children, going too early into the mills, were corrupted, morally and physically ; yet mothers, unable from their own slender wages to support the family, were tempted to swear “false oaths in regard to their children's ages, so as to get them into the mills and thus make more money.”
This Moloch of cheap labor, which demanded both women and children, did not stop at making mothers commit perjury for the sake of bread; it rifled the eleemosynary institutions of little ones left there for safe keeping, and sent them in ship or car loads to the West. The claim was made in New York in 1888 that I “ during the last forty years not less than two hundred thousand children had been sent into the Western States, many of whom had been sold outright,” by managers of asylums, who refused to allow the names of these little ones to be known, for fear that parents or relatives, who had surrendered them in seasons of distress, might wish to reclaim them when
* Fall River, Lowell, and Lawrence. Thirteenth Annual Report, Massachusetts Bureau Statistics of Labor.
+ Public attention was first directed to this hideous phase of the child labor question through the discovery of the fact that large numbers of orphan children, varying from eleven to fourteen years of age, were being exported from St. John's Asylum, Brooklyn, N. Y., to the glass factories of Fostoria and Findlay, 0. Other asylums, including the organization known as the Children's Aid Society, were said to be equally guilty with St. John's Home in carrying on the business of child trading for a money consideration.
† New York newspapers November 23-26, 1888 ; Brooklyn Citizen, November 23, 1888 ; Correspondence of Factory Inspectors, Harry Dorn, Ohio, November 1888 ; Correspondence of Factory Inspectors, John Franey, Albany, N. Y., November, 1888.
fortunate enough to procure work. These children, not sold in the open market as their black brothers and sisters had been, but disposed of in the name of Charity, had their identity concealed by change of name ; cases are on record where brothers and sisters have grown up, met, and married, and “after marriage learned to their horror that they were children of the same parents.”
Thus factory and farm-house had begun to stand in the United States as they had in England from Queen Elizabeth's days-as the fabled ogre's castles of ancient legend, which drew women and children into them to serve and suffer hopelessly, unless relieved from captivity and death by a stronger power. History repeated itself in this exploitation of women and children and in the plans made for their relief. The broad system of factory legislation, inspired in England by the revelations of the cruelty practiced upon the most hapless portions of its population, began to be imitated in the United States. Massachusetts, the pioneer State in introducing salutary reforms, took the initiative, and in 1874 forced its Legislature to recognize that it was the duty of the State to regulate the hours of labor of women and children engaged in the manu. factures. In that year, after a long series of discussions between radicals and conservatives, the Ten-hour Factory Bill was passed. It is doubtful if the radicals would have triumphed even then, had they not been able to demonstrate that there was “a limit to human endurance, which, once transgressed, was not only disastrous to the operative but unprofitable to the mill-owners.”
Having once committed itself to the precedent of interfering to protect the weak against the strong, Massachusetts had no alternative but to advance in the same direction. By degrees, twenty-four distinct points were covered by factory legislation.* Nine other States followed Massachusetts in the enaction of factory laws, and all made provision for bureaus of factory inspection to see that the laws were obeyed. These factory laws, as far as they concerned women, besides limiting the hours of labor, obliged "employers to provide seats for women and grant them permission to use them when not actively engaged in the duties for which they were employed.” Fire. escapes were to be provided, and proper safeguards thrown
* New Jersey, 1883 ; Ohio, 1884 ; New York, 1886 ; Wisconsin, Rhode Island, 1887; Connecticut, 1888 ; Maine, 1888 ; State factory inspection in Pennsylvania in 1889; municipal factory ordinance in Chicago, 1889.
around machinery. Women under twenty-one years were not to be allowed to clean machinery while in motion. Suitable wash-rooms and other conveniences were to be furnished them. Forty-five minutes were to be given for the noon-day meal at a uniform and proper time. Locking of doors—that travesty upon free labor-was prohibited during working-hours. Sanitary regulations of work-rooms and weekly payments were to be enforced. The trusteeing of wages was abolished. Cellars were forbidden to be used as work-rooms. “No plea,” it was said, “and no subterfuge should be permitted to justify the use of any underground apartment for purposes of human habitation.”
Delegating to States the privileges of exercising supervision over manufactories, etc., for the benefit of labor, was a long step forward in the path of progress ; a signal triumph of radicalism over conservative obstructionists denying the right of the State to protect its citizens. But if the reformer gained his points, the manufacturer contrived, as far as possible, to make the victory an empty one. Only so far as employers could not prevent was labor legislation effective. With the ten-hour working day, while employers complied with the letter of the law, a large majority defied the spirit. No fact was better known than that the ten-hour law for women and children was disregarded whenever possible. In factories where notice was given that ten hours would constitute a day's work, the clause “ unless otherwise ordered,” usually accompanied it ; and the “ otherwise ordered " came whenever the manufacturer's convenience demanded it. Other factory legislation fared little better. When, according to law, seats were placed in mills, factories, shops, and stores, women were, in general, forbidden to use them, under penalty of discharge. Locking of doors, when employees were at work, although less common, was still continued. Labor commissioners, wishing to enter factories employing many women, “had much difficulty in getting inside, so securely was every gate and door locked and barred." Sanitary work-rooms remained the exceptions ; underground places continued to be used for human habitations, workshops, and salesrooms. Cellars were converted into bazaars in which hundreds of women and children were employed, and where they lived the year round in the glare of electric lights, never seeing daylight except in the morning hours, on Saturday half-holidays, and Sundays. One obvious reason why factory laws were disregarded so flagrantly was that the working force of factory inspectors in
every State but Massachusetts was so limited as to make it impossible for them to visit even once during the year half the factories under their supervision. In many cases their powers were so restricted that when they caught an offender against the laws, they had to act on Dogberry's advice “ to take no note of him, but let him go.”
Despite the fact that laws, made for the protection of women in the industries, were not always enforced,-enough good resulted from them to increase the tendency everywhere of looking to the State for further legislation. In the pages of the labor reports containing the replies made by workingwomen to the question of what, in their opinion, would remedy the wrongs of industrial workers, one response was, “The power to vote, as the right of suffrage, will place the services of women on an economic basis with those of men." Women working in factories asked to have inspectors appointed of their own sex, on the ground that women could understand and protect the interests of women better than men. In States where the statutory age for protection under the eight or ten hour factory law was below twenty-one, women over twentyone desired the law extended so as to embrace those of all ages. Employees in mercantile houses doing duty as clerks, cashiers, saleswomen, etc., desired “that the same protection given to women in factories be extended to them, as their duties are fully as onerous as those of the average female in the mill or factory.”
As almost all reforms have originated with the educated, and have gathered strength for fruition by rolling onward among the people, the value of these suggestions was enhanced by reason of being the expression of the most intelligent of the working-women interviewed by the Labor Bureau agents. Private philanthropic efforts of all kinds had yielded no effectual help to women, and it was small wonder if the more thoughtful among them turned to the power of the State as the only adequate means for relief from conditions which new inventions of machinery-dispensing with men and employing women and children as guides—and a mania for money-getting at the expense of the proletariat, had rendered intolerable. Though a few stenographers, telegraphers, typewriters, teachers, with some workers in the industrial arts, had gained better breathing-places upon the middle rungs of what was called the “ social ladder," the struggle for life had been constantly growing fiercer among those crowded en masse at the bottom. Everywhere production was carried on with less regard for the life, health, and comfort of the working-women. Women were employed in even greater numbers in the poisonous, dusty, dangerous, and laborious industries, all of which were much more injurious to them, as child-bearers, than to men. The long hours of exhaustive work, destructive of family ties; the starvation wages obtained during seasons of work; the misery of seasons of lock-outs from work, led too frequently to the chaffering of their bodies on the street corners for bread, or the finding of a refuge from starvation in a leap from some house-top or a plunge into the river. The stories of the suffering endured by women engaged in the industrial occupations of the country, as told by capable investigators like Helen Campbell, proved that everything made by women, not excepting the whitest, daintiest robes, had crimson spots on them,—the blood-splashes of the toilers,– that, although unseen, no cleansing could wash away. Not a shop-made garment, a web of silk, cotton, or flax, or wool, a pair of gloves, shoes or stockings, any knitted thing,—machine or hand-made,-a woven carpet or piece of furniture, an artificial flower, feather, or piece of lace, a hat for a man or bonnet for a woman, a piece of table-glass, pottery, or cutlery, a lucifer match, an article of jewelry, or even a printed book, but over them all flitted the ghosts of women twice murdered in their making : once by their own pangs, and again by the sufferings of the little children, flesh of their own flesh, who toiled beside them wearily
Weeping (working) in the play-time of the others,
In the country of the free. The publication of Helen Campbell's “ Prisoners of Poverty," with frequent repetitions, from other sources, of the wrongs endured by industrial women, caused a great wave of indignation to sweep over society. Many good men and women carried on crusades against the purchase of readymade garments—sad misnomer for things so hardly made. One of their war-cries was, “ An honest woman's back is not the place for a dishonestly manufactured article," and another that, “ It is better for a woman to wear a coat with a hole in it than one with the stain on it of blood-guiltiness." Economically unwise and impossible of success as this crusade was, it was important as showing that a higher ideal of Justice had begin to enter into woman's mind. Hitherto people had partaken of the fruits of labor unthinkingly. Now the time was seen to have come when an awakened public began to ques