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INTERSTATE COMMERCE IN PRODUCTS OF CHILD LABOR,
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 1916.
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The committee met at 10 o'clock a. m. pursuant to the call of the chairman.
Present: Senators Newlands (chairman), Pomerene, Myers, Robinson, Thompson, Underwood, Clapp, Brandegee, Lippitt, La Follette, and Poindexter.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee has been called to consider the bill (H. R. 8234) to prevent interstate commerce in the products of child labor, and for other purposes, which the reporter will insert in full in the record.
(The bill referred to is as follows:) Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That no producer, manufacturer, or dealer shall ship or deliver for shipment in interstate commerce the product of any mine or quarry situated in the United States which has been produced, in whole or in part, by the labor of children under the age of sixteen years, or the product of any mill, cannery, workshop, factory, or manufacturing establishment situated in the United States which has been produced, in whole or in part, by the labor of children under the age of fourteen years or by the labor of children between the ages of fourteen years and sixteen years who work more than eight hours in any one day, or more than six days in any one week, or after the hour of seven o'clock postmeridian, or before the hour of seven o'clock antemeridian.
SEC. 2. Proof of the employment within sixty days prior to the shipment of such product therefrom (first) in a mine or quarry of a child under the age of sixteen years, or (second) in a mill, cannery, workshop, factory, or manufac.. turing establishment (a) of a child under the age of fourteen years, or (b) of a child between the ages of fourteen years and sixteen years for more than eight hours in any one day or more than six days in any one week, or after the hour of seven o'clock postmeridian, or before the hour of seven o'clock antemeridian shall be prima facie evidence that such product has been produced in whole or in part by the labor of such a child.
SEC. 3. That the Attorney General, the Secretary of Commerce, and the Secretary of Labor shall constitute a board to make and publish from time to time uniform rules and regulations for carrying out the provisions of this act.
SEC. 4. That for the purpose of securing proper enforcement of this act the Secretary of Labor, or any person duly authorized by him, shall have authority to enter and inspect at any time mines, quarries, mills, canneries, workshops, factories, manufacturing establishments and other places in which goods are produced or held for interstate commerce; and the Secretary of Labor shall have authority to employ such assistance for the purposes of this act as may from time to time be authorized by appropriation or other law.
SEC. 5. That it shall be the duty of each district attorney to whom the Secretary of Labor shall report any violation of this act, or to whom any State factory or mining or quarry inspector, commissioner of labor, State medical inspector, or school-attendance officer, or any other person shall present satisfactory evidence of any such violation to cause appropriate proceedings to be "commenced and prosecuted in the proper courts of the United States without delay for the enforcement of the penalties as in such cases herein provided : Provided, That nothing in this act shall be construed to apply to bona fide boys' and girls' canning clubs recognized by the Agricultural Department of the several States and of the United States.
SEC. 6. That any person who violates any of the provisions of section one of this act, or who refuses or obstructs entry or inspection authorized by section four of this act, shall for the first offense, be punished by a fine of not more than $200, and for each subsequent offense shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000 nor less than $100, or by imprisonment for not more than three months, or by both fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court: Provided, That no dealer shall be subject to conviction under the provisions of this act who shall establish a guaranty issued by the person by whom such goods were manufactured or produced, resident in the United States, to the effect that in the manufacture and production of such goods, neither in whole nor in part, had children been employed or permitted to work in any mine or quarry under the age of sixteen years, or in any mill, cannery, workshop, factory, or ananufacturing establishment under the age of fourteen years or between the ages of fourteen years and sixteen years who worked more than eight hours in any one day or more than six days in any one week or after the hour of seven o'clock postmeridian or before the hour of seven o'clock antemeridian, and in such event the guarantor shall be amenable to any prosecution, fine, or penalty to which the person seeking the protection of such guaranty would otherwise have been subject under the provisions of this act. Said guaranty, to afford 'the protection above provided, shall contain the name and address of the person giving the same.
SEC. 7. That the word “ dealer" or the word “person” as used in this act shall be construed to include any individual or corporation or the members of any partnership or other unincorporated association. The term “ship or deliver for shipment in interstate commerce as used in this act means to ship or deliver for shipment from any State or Territory or the District of Columbia to or through any other State or Territory or the District of Columbia.
SEC. 8. That in prosecutions under this act each shipment or delivery for shipment shall constitute a separate offense.
SEC. 9. That this act shall take effect from and after one year from the date of its passage.
The CTIAIRMAN. I understand that Mr. Grant Hamilton, of the American Federation of Labor, desires to be heard for a few moiments, and the committee will now hear him.
SSTATEMENT OF GRANT HAMILTON, ESQ., REPRESENTING THE
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, my statement will be very brief. As you well know, the American Federation of Labor has, during its entire existence, been very much in earnest in promoting child-labor legislation in the various States, and I anticipate that there ought not to be very much difficulty in the Senate of the United States, so far as the sentiment is concerned, any more so than the tariff.
I desire to say that, in my judgment and in the judgment of the Federation, the passage of the child-labor bill is a still further adrance to protect our oncoming future population. I have heard a great deal and did hear a great deal in the House about the constitutionality of this bill. I am not a lawyer, and therefore whatever logic I may bring to bear upon this situation will be purely from a humanitarian standpoint, and not that of a lawyer. I take it, however, that when we read the Constitution of the United States we have in mind the interest of all the people of our country, and the first section of the Constitution, among other things, says that the Congress of the United States shall be avathorized to pass such legislation as will promote the general welfare and to protect posterity.
The child-labor legislation is to protect our posterity, and the bill which passed the House, and which is now before this committee, provides that children under 16 years of age shall not be permitted to work in mines and quarries and labor of that character, and in the canning factories and similar occupations they shall not be permitted to work under the age of 14 years; that an eight-hour day shall be established also, and certain hours specified within which they shall work.
My judgment is that those who opposed the bill in the House, and who may, perhaps, oppose it in the Senate, if their own convictions could be expressed-and when I say their own convictions I mean their own sentiments and their own feelings in the matter, unbiased by any other consideration-my judgment is there would not be a single vote against it.
I can readily recognize men coming from certain sections of the country, where industry employs children to a very large extent, that influence without question has a bearing upon their action in Congress, but I feel very kindly disposed even toward those who vote against the child-labor bill, because I believe, as I have just remarked, that it is not from any conviction which they have, or rather a conviction which comes from sympathy and a regard for the rights and lives of children.
I want to call your attention also to something that occurred about 20 years ago. One of the European monarchs endeavored to interest other monarchs of the European countries for the purpose of arriva ing at some understanding whereby children would not be employed in industry. I am not going to question the motive of the monarch who made this proposition, but will give it the very best construction. The idea, perhaps, behind it was that in the question of competition all of the countries of Europe would be upon an equal basis provided the labor of children below a certain age could be elimia nated from industry.
Senator POMERENE. What monarch was that?
Mr. HAMILTON. That was the German Emperor; about 20 years ago.
I think I have nothing further to offer upon this subject, except to reiterate that the labor movement of this country, as represented by the American Federation of Labor—which, in my judgment, not cnly represents the organized wage earners, but is the only medium through which the unorganized can be spoken for—I think we represent a very large per cent of the working population of our country, and I wish to urge this committee, upon this particular bill, that I hope, and the Federation hopes, that action will be taken upon it so that the Senate will have an opportunity to act upon the bill prior to the congestion which will probably come when matters of larger moment I would not say larger moment, because they are not larger-but matters which seem to more interest the public mind at the present time, come before it, and I want to again urge that, if in the wisdom of this committee it may see its way clear to report the bill at a very early day, that it do so in order that we may have the opportunity which I spoke of. I should certainly be pleased to have that done, and so would the Federation and all of those who are interested.
I thank you, gentlemen.
Senator UNDERWOOD. This has been usually talked of as a bill to limit the work of children under the age of 16 years. As a matter of fact, most of the children that it applies to are under 14 years of age; is that not a fact?
Mr. HAMILTON. Yes, sir.
Senator UNDERWOOD. It is only with respect to the mines and quarries—those are the only portions of the bill that relate to 16 years, and in all other factories and foundries and machine shops and canning factories they can work, if they are over 14 years of age, and do not work more than eight hours a day?
Mr. HAMILTON. Yes, sir.
Senator UNDERWOOD. So it is practically a bill to limit the hours of work, in a large percentage of cases of children, to 14 years?
Mr. HAMILTON. That is true.
Senator POMERENE. May I ask you a question. Was this bill prepared under the auspices of the American Federation of Labor?
Mr. HAMILTON. Yes, sir.
Senator POMERENE. Well, I note that in this bill it prohibits—I am speaking generally now—interstate commerce in goods which are the product of child labor. In the bill relating to convict labor, as I recall it now, there was not an attempt to prohibit by direct legislation of Congress interstate commerce in that class of gcods, but it was an attempt to confer upon the State authorities the power to control that situation; in other words, it sought to leave the commerce in that class of articles under the control of State legislatures.
Now, my query is why was there this discrimination in the method of treating the two classes of goods?
Mr. HAMILTON. The main reason is that the convict labor question is settling itself by States more rapidly than is the question of child labor. There are many of the States at the present time where the sentiment is well crystallized against the use of convict labor except where they are employed under what is known as the State-use system; where they are employed to manufacture products consumed by the State in the State-supported institutions, and it is not as vital question for that reason. If we apply the same principle to the child-labor bill the chances are it would be a long time in being settled. We have considerably more interest in the children of our country than we have in the convicts, although we certainly have an interest in them; but it is not so great. There are more children than there are convicts.
Senator POMERENE. What I was seeking to get at was the legal reason, if there was a legal reason, why you would differentiate between the two. It seems to me that if we adopt the right policy, if this is the right policy in the child-labor bill. that it ought to apply with equal force to the other bill.
Mr. HAMILTON. Of course, I could not speak from a legal point of view. I can readily understand, of course, your query; but for the reason which I have stated, that the convict-labor proposition is rapidly settling itself, and by the States, whereas, so far as the employment of children is concerned in certain of the States—some of the States, as you know, are extremely backward
Senator POMERENE. Oh, yes.
Mr. HAMILTON. In enacting legislation of that kind; and furthermore you will realize this fact, that our industry is changing very rapidly, that is, women are going more and more into industry, and so are children, and the problem itself, that is the social problem, as differentiated between the convict-labor question, is hardly a parallel.
Senator POMERENE. Well, I simply had in mind the principle involved.
Mr. HAMILTON. Yes; the legal end of it.
Mr. HAMILTON. That, as I have said, has been primarily the reason for taking that position.
(Mr. Hamilton was thereupon excused.) The CHAIRMAN. Gov. Kitchin is present. Governor, are you ready to proceed ?
Mr. KITCHIN. Yes, Senator. We would like to have the committee hear Capt. Ellison Smyth, from Greenville, S. C.
STATEMENT OF CAPT. ELLISON A. SMYTH, OF GREENVILLE, S. C.
Mr. Smyth. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, there has been so much misrepresentation made as to the condition of the southern cotton mills that I would like, with your permission, to make a brief statement and then will be ready to answer any questions that any member of the committee desires to ask.
It is 35 years ago since I left Charleston, my native city, to build a cotton mill in the upper portion of the State, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We built first one mill and subsequently three others, so that now we have four mills there. The town has a population of about 5,000, and we have on our pay rolls something like 2,000 employees. We actually do not employ more than about 1,500, but a good many of them are what we call half-timers-men who work half the time—so that the pay roll is very much larger than it would otherwise appear.
When it came to our first time for payment of State taxes I was impressed with the fact that 75 per cent of the men who were employed in the building operations could neither read nor writewhite men-consequently the company started at once a school for the children, for those who were engaged in the building of mills, not the people we expected to employ in the operation of the cotton mills. To-day we have three schoolhouses in the village and have 650 children at school, and the schools are maintained and run by the Pelzer Co. and are in operation nine months of the year. I found great difficulty, in the absence of any compulsory school law in South Carolina, to get the children who should be at school to attend school. I tried a number of plans and finally found that by paying them in regular mail envelops 10 cents a month for each scholar