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HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON LABOR,
Monday, January 10, 1916. The comunittee met at 10 o'clock a. m., Hon. David J. Lewis (chairman) presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. This is a hearing on H. R. 8234, introduced by Mr. Keating, of Colorado, to prevent interstate commerce in the products of child labor, and for other purposes. This is the revised bill. Gov. Kitchin, of North Carolina, has a delegation here this morning who desire to be heard on the bill.
Mr. Kirchin. Do you desire to hear those who oppose the bill first or do you think it would be more regular to hear those who favor it first?
The CHAIRMAN. Whatever the pleasure of the committee is about that matter. I do not know that anybody has asked to be heard, except the opponents of the bill. I think perhaps time would be saved by hearing those who oppose the measure first, so that you may proceed, Governor. Only one side has asked to be heard.
Mr. KITCHIN. I will present Mr. David Clark first.
STATEMENT OF MR. DAVID CLARK, OF CHARLOTTE, N. C., EDITOR
OF THE SOUTHERN TEXTILE BULLETIN.
The CHAIRMAN. Give the reporter your name, residence, and business, Mr. Clark.
Mr. CLARK. David Clark, Charlotte, N. C., editor and sole owner of the Southern Textile Bulletin, covering the southern textile field.
Mr. KITCHIN. Mr. Clark, tell us what opportunities you have had for knowing the conditions in the cotton mills of the South.
The CHAIRMAN. Governor, it is not the practice before committees to have counsel.
Mr. KITCHIN. All right; go ahead, Mr. Clark.
The CHAIRMAN. Just proceed with your statement of any matters that you think fairly reflect on the bill before the committee.
Mr. CLARK. My position is that I am in close touch with the textile industry of the South, and have been for 16 years, 8 years a cotton manufacturer and 8 years the editor of two publications, and for the last 5 years editor of the present publication, which I own. It has been our desire to have you gentlemen come South and see the mills, so that you will understand the situation, and we hope that you will come. I am here to give you any information that you may desire, openly and frankly, in regard to the conditions in the South.
We do not claim that the conditions are ideal in the cotton-mill industry in the South, but I believe they are better
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). Mr. Clark, if you will not take offense, I think you had better talk a little more clearly. It is difficult to understand your statement, speaking so fast.
Mr. KEATING. Do I understand that you take the position that any Federal child-labor legislation would be unjust to the southern cotton interests and the State of North Carolina particularly?
Mr. CLARK. I take the position that it is unconstitutional, not that it is unjust.
Of course I take the position that this particular bill is unjust.
Mr. KEATING. Suppose, for the sake of the argument, we leave the question of constitutionality to the Supreme Court of the United States?
Mr. CLARK. Yes.
Mr. KEATING. Would you consider any child-labor legislation unjust to the cotton industry of the South?
Mr. CLARK. No, sir; I would not say unjust, not“ any legislation.” Of course some legislation would be.
Mr. KEATING. What kind of legislation would you consider just? Mr. CLARK. Any reasonable legislation. Mr. KEATING. What wouid be your definition of reasonable childlabor legislation.'
Mr. CLARK. Legislation prohibiting the working of girls up to 14 and the working of boys up to 14, except between the ages of 12 and 14, when they could work outside of school hours, and prohibiting the working of any under 16 years of age at night. That is my opinion. It is a little contrary to the opinion of some of the cotton manufacturers.
Mr. KEATING. You believe a bill drafted along that line would not do the cotton industry any injury?
Mr. CLARK. It would not do the mill people or the cotton industry any injury. But this bill will.
Mr. KEATING. So that the amount of damage that would be done to the cotton-mill industry by this bill is the difference between the standard that you would set up and the standard which is set up in this bill?
Mr. CLARK. Yes.
Mr. KEATING. Now, the bill sets up a standard so far as children in mills are concerned of 14 years for boys and girls. As I understand you, you would have the 14-year limit for girls alone ?
Mr. CLARK. Your bill practically makes it a 16-year limit. Theoretically you make it 14, but practically it is 16.
Mr. REATING. The bill fixes 14 years as a limit for boys and girls. Mr. CLARK. Well, theoretically, but not practically." In Kentucky a bill of that kind went into effect and the result is that it meant 16 years for both.
Mr. KEATING. Then your theory is that children between 14 and 16 should work more than eight hours a day?
Mr. CLARK. Yes, sir.
Mr. KEATING. You think they should be permitted to work at night under 16?
Mr. CLARK. No, sir; not under 16.
Mr. KEATING. Then, in your opinion, it is unreasonable to work children under 16 at night?
Mr. CLARK. Yes, sir; it is not best.
Mr. CLARK. It is unnecessary. The National Child Labor Association claim that the laws in the South are unreasonable, but they have not shown where any injury has been done, notwithstanding all the statements that have been made.
Mr. London. How many children under the ages of 14 and 16 work more than eight hours a day?
Mr. CLARK. All of our laws on the subject allow more than eight hours. Ten hours is the law throughout the South.
Mr. London. But how many children work more than eight hours
Mr. CLARK. I have the data here. In South Carolina there are employed 8,450 under 16 years of age.
Mr. LONDON. Under 16 years of age?
Mr. CLARK. Yes, sir. That is 16.4 per cent of the total number of employees in the mills. In 1910 there were 20 per cent employed. The tendency is to decrease. In North Carolina alone last year, without any revision of the law, there was a decrease of 836 in the number of children employed. That was the result of a voluntary effort. The tendency all through the South is toward this change.
Mr. KITCHIN. I think you may be talking too fast.
Mr. London. Then this legislation is really in harmony with the tendency in your State?
Mr. ČLARK. I could not say it is in harmony with it, but there is a tendency in that direction.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, gentlemen of the committee, would it not be well for Mr. Clark to present to the committee in such form as he might think proper his own views on this subject and then have the individual members of the committee ask him any questions they may care to ask after he is through with his principal statement?
Mr. KEATING. I think you are right. The reason I asked the question of Mr. Clark was because I thought he had apparently concluded his statement and invited questions. That was my understanding, but perhaps I was mistaken.
Mr. CLARK. I came here more to answer questions. I have no information in continuous form. I have the information on all lines of the subject, and I came here to give you information in answer to any question that you might see fit to ask relative to conditions in the cotton industry of the South.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Clark, I think the idea of the committee was that you were perhaps possessed of such well-formed views on the subject that in a somewhat succinct way you could present your views concerning the subject matter as a whole; and then if the members of the committee wanted to take up any particular question they could ask you questions.
Mr. Clark. Well, sir; I will be very glad to cover it in any way that you may see fit. The proposition of the National Child Labor Committee is that the cotton mill boys and girls are injured by working in the mills. That is the basis of their claim, as I understand it. They also claim that the second generation is going to show the effect of that injury. Now, as a matter of fact, the second generation of the cotton-mill people in the South are better physically, better looking people, than the first generation that came from the mountains. I have here a few photographs which I desire to pass around among the members of the committee, showing some of the children of the operatives.
Mr. London. Does that apply to both men and women—that they are better looking ?
Mr. CLARK. Yes, sir. A number of years ago we had no law that prohibited work of children 8 or 9 years of age. Now, the children of those who worked at 8 or 9 years of age are shown in these pictures. That is the way they are to-day. I want you to look at these pictures so that you can see whether they compare physically with other children in other places.
Mr. KEATING. It is your belief, Mr. Clark, that putting children in the cotton mills in the South when they are 8 or 9 years old and subjecting them to the rigorous treatment there, performing a day's work, will not have any bad effect upon the children?
Mr. CLARK. I did not state that.
Mr. KEATING. Well, according to your pictures, you would demonstrate, without any statement from you, using the pictures as evidence, that the working of children in the past in the South at so early an age as 8 or 9 years, would not have a bad effect upon those children?
Mr. CLARK. No, sir; because of the fact that before they came to the mills they had worked on the farms, where they had worked longer and harder hours.
Mr. KEATING. Do you mean to say that before they went to work in the mills they had served an apprenticeship on the farm?
Mr. CLARK. No; I mean the parents of those children had worked on the farms before they came there to the mills.
Mr. KEATING. Then your idea is that the parents having worked on the farms and having secured an excellent constitution in that way, their children are able to endure the work in the mills?
Mr. CLARK. No, sir. My theory is that the work in the mills is not as hard or as injurious as the work on the farms. The promoters of this bill have not the nerve to include the farms or even to refer to the farms. They let goods come into this country from Germany, Japan, and England manufactured by very small chil. dren. They let those goods come into the port of New York from Europe, and yet they say you can not bring these goods from North Carolina.
Mr. KEATING. I think you will be a little surprised at the nerve that some of us might have along the line that you suggest.
Mr. CLARK. Well, sir, I would be very glad to hear of it.
Mr. KEATING. But that is not the question before the committee to-day. The proposition that we are considering is whether this bill will injuriously affect the cotton industry of the South.
Mr. COOPER, of Ohio. Do I understand that the people in the South have been working children 8 and 9 years of age in the cotton mills?
Mr. CLARK. Not for a number of years.
Mr. CLARK. Twelve or 15 years at least. The lowest age limit in North Carolina to-day is 12 years for children working in an apprentice capacity.
Mr. COOPER of Ohio. What provision do you make for the education of the children that are sent into the mills?
Mr. CLARK. The mills have the best facilities for the education of the children in the South because they provide their own schools. The cotton-mill men of South Carolina a number of years ago went on record for 14 years as an age limit, provided that the legislature would provide a system of compulsory education.
Mr. Cooper of Ohio. Why, it seems hardly possible, when I look back on my little boy 8 years of age, to think that they had children
8 of his age and size working in the cotton mills.
Mr. CLARK. Well, you formerly had in Massachusetts a similar condition. It is only a matter of a different degree of progress.
Mr. KEATING. You say they had children of 8 or 9 years of age working in the cotton mills 10 or 12 years ago?
Mr. CLARK. I think it was about 1898. The law went into effect about that time. If you talk about the cotton mills, why not consider the canning industry? I have recently read a report on the (anning industry, and I notice that in 1907 children were working at 5 years of age.
Mr. KEATING. You would not approve of that law, of course?
Mr. CLARK. No, sir; I just noticed the report on the canning industry.
Mr. HOUSTON. Where was that?
Mr. CLARK. Yes, sir. But there is another thing—it does not cover newspapers. You let newsboys sell newspapers. I guess the ability of papers to effect public sentiment is the cause of that.
Nr. KEATING. Possibly it is, but newsboys are not engaged in interstate commerce.
Mr. CLARK. But newspapers go into interstate commerce, do they not?
Mr. KEATING. Oh, yes.
Mr. CLARK. I would like to have the committee look at these pictures of children of the mill people.
Mr. Nolan. These are children at play, are they not?
Mr. CLARK. Yes, sir; they are children at play. The picture which you have in your hand show children at school; they are out with the teacher. Those are children of mill people. You hear a great deal about the violation of laws in our State. Mr. Swift, who is here to-day, says that there have been violations of the law, but he does not say where the law is being violated. About all you hear down at Greensboro, according to Mr. Swift, is that the mills are violating the law, but it is a secret where they are violating the law. The cotton manufacturers have gone on récord as saying that if violations of the law are going on they should be stopped.
Mr. KEATING. Now, Mr. Clark, in order that we may get down to the basis of the opposition to this bill which is now before the committee, will you tell the committee what you would consider a just law and let us see in what particular it differs from this bill?
Mr. CLARK. Yes.