« AnteriorContinuar »
deaths occur it is usually because of the late use or too small dose of the antitoxin. Dr. Dixon, in 1907, estimated the State's loss from typhoid fever—without including cost of nurses, physicians, or drugs—at $17,000,000, and he now thinks it quite possible that tuberculosis is costing Pennsylvania nearly $60,000,000 annually; so that the work of his Department is not only for mercy but for economy. On the product of brains, which President James declared to be our greatest national asset, we can faithfully depend. Though the destructive agencies, of which we have been complaining, should leave our country as bare as the hills of Attica, which produced nothing worth mentioning except men, we may yet not be without consolation. If we may have what Athens once had, we need not so sorely regret the loss of what she had not. (Loud applause.)
MRs. J. ELLEN FostER, CHAIRMAN, CoMMITTEE ON CHILD LABOR; NATIONAL SECRETARY, DAUGHTERS OF THE AMERICAN REvolution.
I wish to thank the gentlemen of the committee for their invitation to me to speak on this subject, the Conservation of Child Life. Strange that a woman should feel thankful for this, for have not we been accorded since the foundation of the world the guardianship of the children? But in these latter days there is rising a class of men—some of them old and a little stiff in keeping pace with the march of events and some of them young and a bit heady in their appreciation of sociological questions; these old men and these young men, men whom we have reared and nestled in our arms, sometimes say things we do not like. They talk about the decay of the motherly instinct. They tell what the oldfashioned women used to do, as if the new-fashioned woman did not do the same things. They say that our homes are in danger; that we do not care for our children; that we would rather make speeches on platforms and go to the polls and vote than take care of the little ones that have come to us through the Divine ordinance of marriage and our very hearts' life. These old men are dried up and have forgotten. These young men are not out of the period of adolescence. I am glad to be here. I care more about children than about forests and streams. Why do I care at all for forests and streams? Because of the children who are to be naked and bare and poor without them in the years to come unless you men of this great conservation work do well your work. But please take comfort to your hearts, men and women; there is no trouble about the homes of America. I am associated with most of the forward movements advocated by women. I believe in all the movements that are asking for enlarged opportunities for women. And why do we ask it? Why do we want this and that and the other, and why are we getting this and that and the other? Washington is soon to make her tribute to the advance of women. Why is all this? It is because we want to take care of our children better, it is because we can serve the interests of the home better. The forces of nature since the foundation of the world have been on the side of the child with the mother; sometimes, and very largely, on the side of the child with the father, but always on the side of the child with the mother. Men and women, you utilize the force of gravitation but you don't make the force. God did that. You utilize women's love of a child, but you did not make it. God set us in families. So now we are all right; we will help you out. The lady who represents the conservation interests of the country as they are fostered and served by the Daughters of the American Revolution is Mrs. Bell Merril Draper, of Washington, D. C., chairman of the Conservation Committee. I chance to be speaking here today as her representative and also as chairman of the committee on Child Labor of this same great organization, the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. We believe in all these forward movements because they are part of our inheritance; we are to the manner born; there is good blood in us, the blood of the Revolution, the blood of our fathers and mothers of the olden time who set the stakes of the constitution to which the first great speaker here has alluded. We are their children and want to save what they gave us. That is the basis of the membership of the National Society of the Daughters of the Revolution. That is who we are. Now, why have we formed this committee against child labor? Because just as surely as a big tree is worth more than a growing slip, so a man is worth more than a child. That is a wonderfully commercial way to state it, isn't it? It is not only that we love the child and want him for ourselves, but it is because we know he is worth more to the country, if he is allowed to grow up. He makes a better tree out of which to cut lumber to build a house or a church or a school if he is allowed to grow up to full stature and to develop himself fully. He cannot do that if he is put in a factory at a too early age. That is the economic side of the question. Of course you know the other side, the sentimental side, but you are hard-headed men, most of you. You deal in measurements of timber, measurements of water, as the great forces of nature, and we present our subject to you along the lines of your action. We say the boy is worth more by and by if he does not work in the factory now. And, gentlemen and ladies, the thing which is right morally, the thing which is right sentimentally is right economically. Oh, it is magnificent to get hold of a truth, a vital truth like this; you can tie to it and go anywhere with it. You will never get into any morass if you build your home or your shop on a truth. Emerson said: “Hitch your wagon to a Star.” That is beautiful and poetic. Men and women, hitch to a great truth in religion, in morals, or in Sociology, and you will find that it is equally valuable economically. Let me note this: I was talking to a mill owner in the city of Washington, who had come there for some legislation which he wanted. I was so moved with the good things I knew were being done in his mill in the South that I called upon him to pay my respects and to tell him how much I admired the premises his people had to live in, and appreciated the facilities offered to the Y. W. C. A. by the mill owners he represented. He did not seem particularly to appreciate my enthusiasm. This mill man just stood there perfectly stolid, and when I said: “Excuse me, do I make myself understood?” he replied: “Oh, yes, madam. You make yourself understood, but we do not do it for any of the reasons you have stated. We find we get better results.” Men and women, you will get better results if you allow the children to stay in the schools until they are fourteen or sixteen at the very earliest. I want to pay my tribute to the State of Washington. A member of my committee from this State—Mrs. Breeds, of this city, who is in this audience this morning, tells me, as does also the State Regent, Mrs. Gove, that your childlabor law in Washington is good. Right along with it goes compulsory education, of which, doubtless, you will hear later. A compulsory education law is the best kind of child-labor law. If a child is in a school he is not in a sweatshop or a mill or a factory. There is an objection which some superficial people make. They say: “But would you not allow a child to work for an invalid mother or an indigent father?” There are not so many invalid and widowed mothers as you suppose. But at the overestimate, it is better to take care of the mother than to dwarf the child. When you go to the Legislature for child-labor laws you may meet some man who has large investments in glass factories and employs boys at his furnaces, or some Pennsylvania owner of mines who wants the boys to stand at the gates of the great pits. These men, when they talk about these things, would seemingly like to lead you to suppose that their States are populated with widowed mothers. But the demands are not as great as you may suppose. There is not a manufacturing town in your great State which could not better afford to pension all the widowed mothers and allow the boys to grow, because they will make good timber by-and-by. They are good kindling wood now, but I pray you do not burn them out before the muscles are tough, before the brain is better developed and the body is larger and stronger. The country needs the growing boy. He is the hope of the country.
Then there is the indigent father. You are gentlemen— you would not be here if you were not—you have a certain amount of development which has inclined you to come to this auditorium in this Gallery of Fine Arts at the call of these gentlemen who do not look at present advantages only. You are not nearsighted, as some people are; you are farsighted. You see not only the present but the future— tomorrow and next year and the year and years after. Now some of the nearsighted people that I have heard of reckon their children at their present value as wage earners. I remember a man in a mill to whom I said: “How many of your children have you in the mill now?” He replied: “I am working two girls now, that's all.” Have you never heard a farmer say how many horses he was working? This man spoke so of his children. Is it not strange that God allows the laws of nature to go on and that such men can be fathers?