Child Labor at Industrial Revolution
Child labor is the idea of forcing adolescent children into hazardous tasks working under ruthless circumstances and surrounded by an unsafe environment. Children are valuable and precious therefore, they should not be mistreated and allowed to experience misery and suffering at such a young age. Problems, disagreements, injuries, and death have all been caused by child labor. Child labor was the worst issue that provoked acute social, mental, and physical damage to America. “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” (The United States Constitution) The preamble of the U.S. constitution was made for plenty of reasons; one of those reasons was to prevent practices such as child labor to somehow disappear in America. Residents of the United States of America want a “more perfect union”. Words in the preamble such as justice, defense, tranquility, and liberty are the absolute opposite of child labor. Why would America be referred to as an almost “perfect” nation while child labor still progresses? Why would the fellow citizens of America say there is justice in America when there's child labor practiced there? These notable questions apply from the height of child labor in the 19th Century until today of the 21st century. Children labored around perilous machinery and went through arduous conditions at a very young age, usually 16 years and under. Adolescent children were forced to work intense hours and were paid low wages or no payments at all which eliminates the purpose of having the U.S. preamble in the constitution since people hope to “establish justice”. Employers were foul and did an awful attempt to supply the children at work with a safe and healthy surrounding. The circumstances children persisted brought several forms of harm toward the children. They were paralyzed by industrial incidents, defaulted appropriate movement and clean fresh air, and became vulnerable to diseases. These children took the risk at death enduring cruel conditions to support their families. Overseers also practiced physical punishment by having whipping rooms for children that misbehaved, slept while working, and were too slow. In coal mines, children were filthy, harnessed like animals, and had to drag heavy loads on their fragile backs behind them. They suffered pain for all day and tolerated injured hands, aching backs, the fear of getting squashed to death by coal, and sickness from breathing in coal dust. Breaker boys worked above ground, picking slate and other blemishes from coal. By doing so they often got a skin condition called “red tips” caused by sulfur from the coal contacting with skin, making their hands cracked, bloody, and swollen. Breaker boys also inhaled coal dust because of the process of coal mining released poisonous gases which could result in throat trouble or respiratory illness. Their faces were black and filthy covered with coal dust. Machinery in the mines, especially coal crushers were menacingly noisy and often led to hearing loss and on those rare unfortunate days, a boy fell into the coal crusher. Mining tunnels have collapsed as well, hindering and disabling workers to their death while spreading disease from rat infestation. “Joseph Martonik, about 15 years of age. Caught in the machinery and horribly mangled. Aug. 31, 1910 Cranberry Colliery. If he had obeyed instructions, or if the machinery had been properly protected, the accident might not have happened.” (Hindman 101) Besides breaker boys in the mines there were hippers, boys who opened doors from mining cars that were often ran over. There were also spraggers, boys that kept the mining cars moving and once in a while boys...
Cited: Eastern Illinois Universaty.10 February 2012 <http://eiu.edu/eiutps/childhood.php>
Foner, Eric., and Garraty, John. 10 February 2012 <http://history.com/topics/child-labor>
Gourley, Catherine. Good Girl Work. Brookfield, Connecticut: The Millbrooke Press, 1999.
Greene, Laura Offenhartz. Child Labor: Then and Now. New York: Franklin Watts, 1992.
Hindman, Hugh. Child Labor. An American History. Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe, 2002.
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