Child Labor During The 19th Century

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1094 |

Pages: 2|

6 min read

Published: Dec 16, 2021

Words: 1094|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Dec 16, 2021

The industrial revolution was an era that created many improvements although these improvements definitely had their downfalls. the increase of population led to an increase in company making which led to an increase in demand. Which meant more people are needed to work. Over 2 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 were employed to work in factories, mills, mines, etc. across all states differentiating based on location. Many were not forced but lived in under conditions where school was not an option. It was those who couldn’t support their family that made their children work instead of going to school. These poor children were exposed to dangerous and horrible working conditions. Plenty has died due to overworking, malnutrition. If not death, these children have been broken either mentally and/or physically. It stunted their growth. Child labour and its conditions triggered families and progressives and society. Unions were made and reforms happened to restrict children under the age of 14 to work. Progressives saw that children shouldn’t waste their lives hulling berries, picking cotton, driving in mines, etc. they sought for them to get an education and develop the way children should. The factors leading to Child Labor Movement include the causes and conditions of working children faced during the 19th century.

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Industrialization was a central theme during the 19th century. Manufacturing cities grew rapidly. Where people started migrating for better work opportunities both inside and outside the US. Experiencing the major shift in society from agriculture to machine-based. The growth of industries, new inventions, and replacing old with the new. Daily lives had to adjust to the way and how fast society was changing. Which served as economic growth. America had no restrictions regarding immigrants therefore, America was welcoming towards migrants. The growth and redistribution of the population coincided with the expansion of urban economic activity. In which it led to competitive industries and improved commerce and mercantilism.

With the boom of industrial factories adult workers were not enough in population to cover the number of jobs created. The population of workers that were employed was of the working class and their salary could barely provide for their family. Since families needed the extra money employers began to employ children the owners of companies found it cheaper to employ children, paying them a quarter of what they would pay an adult doing the same work. But they needed the money. They were hired as unskilled workers. Before anyone could get a word in about how unethical it was; there were no laws preventing children to work in factories, so employers took it to their advantage. Children were proven to be effective; they were obedient workers and smaller and fit in places adults couldn’t.

The fight to protect the rights of a child worker, lasted about 20 years. Day shifts lasted about eight hours and if not working day shift, they would work the night shift or even alternate in between day and night. Those working more than 8 hours a day every day tend to get no sleep and end up dozing off at work and falling into machines either end up dying or fatally injured. The young displaced the older workers because child labor was cheap. In which they were paid less at the expense of their education which created competition between adults and children. Which also forces adults to accept low paying wages. Which puts an impact on living, both socially and economically.

An inside to a sugar beet industry in Minnesota. It employed mostly immigrants from different backgrounds. To tend to beets ended up with excruciating and exhausting work. Toddlers about the age of five would crawl on hands and knees to thin out beet seedlings. Then older children would have to pull out the beets weighing almost 10 pounds and will have to shake off the dirt off of them. another group will pile the shaken beets, and another will cut the leaves off them. Research shows the dangers of the constant heavy lifting for children which resulted in winged scapula, discomfort in back and shoulders. In some districts, the children working in the fields only went to school six out of nine months and often held back because the children did not know English. Mexican children rarely attend rural schools not because of them helping their parents but because of the discrimination they faced in the Midwest.

A normal day for a child working would be waking up at 4 am, eat their malnourishing breakfast and travel an hour away to work for 12 hours straight. Many of them being illiterate. When people started noticing the conditions these poor children worked in, they started to take action. In 1920, Alice Park wrote an article explaining the silent cry for help from the children. She refers to them as helpless animals, chained down, overworked and deprived of their childhood, memories, and growth; in which they cannot make decisions for themselves. The reason for the older age unemployment and low wages were the cause of the employment of the youth. “A parent that complains that his earnings won’t support his family, and his children must work for wages, however low, is learning that it is his own children are pulling his own wages down.” She then describes on how a nation which calls themselves the most civilized and richest force millions of children in the unheard-of toil while adults beg in vain.

Labor Unions were framed in light of the fact that laborers at last needed to put a stop to the extended periods with little pay. Women most especially were triggered by these awful conditions these children faced. A petition sent from the Michigan State Federation of Women's Clubs recommending a study of child labor emphasizes the labor brought upon the children.

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Once people began to be aware of the issues, they needed something to be done. Albert Beveridge, a U.S. senator of Indiana at the time, said if one state practices a strict law on child labor and another does adopt or has it and does not practice will result in competitive competition. Companies and industries became based on weak law that the practice of labor laws becomes poor. A disadvantage to the state strictly practicing they would have to pay adult labor at reasonable wages for an adult. While, the states with weak or no laws can pay at any wage they please to. “Remember that there are plenty of men and women to do the work these innocents are forced to do, and the only reason for child slavery in this republic is greed.”

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The Reasons Why Child Labor Needs To End. (2022, December 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 12, 2024, from
“The Reasons Why Child Labor Needs To End.” GradesFixer, 06 Dec. 2022,
The Reasons Why Child Labor Needs To End. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 12 Jun. 2024].
The Reasons Why Child Labor Needs To End [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Dec 06 [cited 2024 Jun 12]. Available from:
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