Child Labor Laws, July 10, 1924

52 Vesey Street.
New York City.

We need an intelligent citizenry in every phase of our national life. We need an intelligent citizenry to get rid of the child labor laws. All the laws we need in regard to children are laws to protect them from cruel physical treatment.

As it is now, the boys are kept from work by a mob of expensive office holders, when the boys should be at work if they want to go to work or their parents want them to.

In some states a boy cannot go to the healthful work of a farm, even during vacation, without the permit of an office holder, as the following letter from a farmer in another state will show.

"Dear Mr. See: --

Your letter of the 23rd inst., with copy of letter to Adelphi College received. This letter should be mailed to all the women's clubs and welfare workers in our country. We have had a struggle in our legislature this winter on child labor law. The old maids who make up the welfare workers of our state have spoken before various women's clubs in all of our principal cities, saying that we onion growers of this county are making slaves out of children by working them in our fields, with such light work as pulling weeds; and told such fabulous lies about the growers here that they got their bills through, placing the children practically in the control of the state during school vacation. This not only applies to onion growing but to other farm work that children can do. We shall rue the day when woman suffrage was allowed to become a law in our land."

What could be more wholesome for a boy than to be out in the open air, working on a farm? And what could be more belittling to a boy than to be compelled to obtain a permit from an officer holder in order to work as he desires?

Read the story of how boys who want to work at the age of twelve, thirteen or fourteen, rose to prominent, useful and [happy] lives, and how, by these child labor laws, the office holders are taking away the liberties [page 2] of the boys old enough to go to work; taking away their manliness and self-respect, and making them into weaklings and taking away also the liberties of the parents. The whole thought of our legislators seems to be to make our country into a vast kindergarten, even if they have to bankrupt the country to do it.

A woman went to one of the mill owners of the south, and said she was sent there by the editor of a magazine, to investigate child labor in the south. The mill owner said, "I will show you everything about the mill, the homes of those who work in the mills, how they live, and also how such people lived before they worked in the mills, if you will send me a copy of the magazine containing the story of what you have found here." The mill owner bought two or three succeeding issues of the magazine and, not finding the article, wrote the woman about it. She replied that she did not find what she had expected to. Being unable to assail the mill owner, she had written nothing.

Child labor leagues consist chiefly of secretaries who make a good living out of them, and have a pleasant time riding around the country at the expense of others and holding conventions where they can make speeches and show their humbug exhibits. These secretaries induce sentimental people to allow their names to be used as directors or officers of the leagues, then print these names across the top or down the border of the sheets of note paper they use in correspondence, to make an impression on the people who receive them.

It is surprising how many persons there are who [will] allow their names to be used as supporters of things they know nothing about -- things which they never investigate. The men who allow their names to be used in this way are nothing more than stool pigeons, and are used as decoys to induce gullible people to give money [to] the support of these child labor leagues. [page 3]

I chanced to be at a hotel where a convention of a child labor league was being held. All about the room were pictures purposing to show the evil effects of child labor. Placards were put into the shop windows, which brought many women to the room, who sighed as they looked on the pictures.

One picture showed a circular saw of about a foot and a half in diameter, in front of which sat a little boy cutting pieces of wood in two, about the size of a lead pencil; and the boy had his head turned away from the saw, which was supposed to be running. Now no one but a person who is grown ever uses such a saw and he never sits down in front of it. There is a saying, "Never monkey with a buzz-saw." When a man uses such a saw he wants to be on his feet so as to be able to jump quickly if a piece of wood gets caught in the saw and is thrown back at him; and he never looks behind him with his hands as close to a saw as that boy's were shown to be in the picture, for if he did he would stand very great chance of having a hand taken off.

Then there was a picture showing boys with their faces drawn out of shape because of the kind of work the boys were supposed to be doing; and next to it were shown boys with school books. Underneath the pictures were the words "Which would you like to have your child be -- the one working or the one going to school?" I have seen boys doing the work that was pictured as so horrible, and I have never seen a merrier lot of mischievous boys. They had a foreman over them, and when the foreman's head was turned one would push another or throw something at him; while the nerves of the school children are shattered by poring hour after hour over the senseless concoctions of pedagogues, which have been introduced into the schools to the neglect of spelling and of other useful studies.

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