Child Labor

Child Labor

Child labor was a commonplace, if contentious, practice for much of the first half of the 20th century. During the progressive era, various state level laws were passed to regulate and limit the practice. New York’s celebrated Factory Investigating Commission, created in the wake of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, addressed child labor as much as it did fire codes. The Keating-Owen Act of 1916 attempted to ban the interstate sale of any good manufactured by American children, but the Supreme Court overturned the law. It took the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, one of the last New Deal laws, to finally put an end to most child labor in the United States. The law covers most people under the age of 18.

Cry Wolf Quotes

[Such laws are] a communistic effort to nationalize children, making them primarily responsible to him and the government instead of to their parents. It strikes at the home. It appears to be a definite positive plan to destroy the Republic and substitute a social democracy.

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Clarence E. Martin, President American Bar Association. Only date available: 1933.
01/01/1933 | Full Details | Law(s): Child labor

The child will become a very dominant factor in the household and might refuse perhaps to do chores before six a.m. or after seven p.m. or to perform any labor.

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Senator Weldon Heyburn (R-ID). Only date available: 1908.
01/01/1908 | Full Details | Law(s): Child labor

As reprehensible as child labor is, and as much as it ought to be abandoned — that's something that has to be done by state legislators, not by Members of Congress. This may sound harsh, but it was designed to be that way. It was designed to be a little bit harsh. Not because we like harshness for the sake of harshness, but because we like a clean division of power, so that everybody understands whose job it is to regulate what.

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U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)
01/14/2011 | Full Details | Law(s): Child labor

It is likely enough that many of these child laborers will grow into capitalists and become "too rich," like their present oppressors.

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A New York Sun editorial. Only date available: 1907.
01/01/1907 | Full Details | Law(s): Child labor