Child Labor1

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 …

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