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Child Labor In History

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660 words
Social Issues

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Child labor first appeared with the establishment of the domestic
system. The domestic system was a process through which entrepreneurs
would purchace raw materials that would be "put out" to the homes of many
families and be made into finished products that could be sold by the
entrepreneurs. The families were paid by the piece, and so the adults
would use their children to their fullest capability to aid in some way.
The domestic system was prominent in England, on the Continent, and in
North America during the 16th 17th and 18th centuries. This system still
exists in some countries throughout the world.

Along with the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century came a
new ststem to replace the previous domestic system. The new system was the
factory system. Children were used in this system from as young as the
age of five. Children were used extensively to tend the machines. Children
were also used in coal mines, from as young an age as six. These children
would work long hours in the dark and damp mines, often carrying coal in
packs on their backs up long ladders to the surface.

During the 1830's the English Parliament decided to create an
investigation into the mistreatment of child laborors. One child in a
textile mill testified that he began working when he was eight years of
age and since that time had been working from six o'clock in the morning
to eight o'clock in the evening, with one hour to break at twelve o'clock
in the afternoon. Sometimes, when business was brisk he would work a
sixteen hour span from five in the morning to nine in the evening. When
questioned on how he awoke and was on time for work, the boy said "I
seldom did awake spontaineously; I was most generally awoke or lifted out
of bed, sometimes asleep, by my parents." A girl who worked in the mines
said that she worked from five in the morning to five at night. She had no
time to stop for meals or rest, she would work continuously and eat as she
worked. When asked about her tasks that she had to perform in the mines,
she said "I carry the buckets (filled with coal) a mile and more under
ground and back. I carry eleven a day; I wear a belt and chain at the
workings to get the buckets out; the miners that I work for sometimes beat
me with their hands if I am not quick enough. They strike me upon my back.
I would rather work in a mill than in a coalpit."

During the Industrial Revolution there were many children who had
no parents or parents who were too financially unstable to care for them.
At the time there was a law called the English Poor Act, through which
government officials were supposed to take these children, called "pauper
children", and arrange for them to become apprentices so that they would
have the ability to learn a trade and be in a stable and caring
enviornment. In thousands of cases these "pauper children" were simply
handed over to mill owners by the officials, and thus had no one to care
for them and were no more than slaves to some degree. Other children were
indentured, or sold, by their parents to rendor their services to a mill
owner for a certain amount of time.

All of these harsh conditions that children were subjected to were
results of the widespreak beliefs of the time. Employers believed that
business and government should be seperate. In addition to the harsh
conditions and long hours that the children ...

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Keywords: child labor history in the us, child labor history in the united states, child labour in history, child workers in history, child labor in japan history, child labor in africa history, child labor in china history, child labor debates in history

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