Address to the Child Labor Symposium, February 18, 1905 (excerpt)



Chicago Woman Tells Symposium of Work There

The symposium on child labor, held in the rooms of the New Century Club, 124 South Twelfth street, yesterday afternoon, attracted representatives from thirty clubs and benevolent societies. Miss Jane Addams, of Hull House, Chicago, gave a general account of child labor throughout the United States and England. Miss Addams said:

"There are two arguments invariably used by those who work against the protection of children. The first is the sentimental argument, that of the poor widow who needs the money earned by her children. In Chicago, after a thorough investigation, we reduced the number of really dependent widowed mothers to eleven, and this number is now given the salary the child would earn, by charitable women, and the children are in school.

"The second is the business argument. Two firms of glass manufacturers in Chicago, threatened to move from the state if the laws governing child labor were not repealed. The laws have been enforced for two years and the firms have both acknowledged two years of prosperity.

"Children who are sent to work at a tender age involve a distinct loss to society. The years between nine and fourteen are the formative period of a child's life. Children, like colts, should not be broken too young. The result is physical decline, rapidly followed by moral degeneracy."

In the discussion which followed Miss Addams address it was stated that in Pennsylvania there are 33,000 children under sixteen years of age now employed.

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