With the growth of the textile industry, child labor grew increasingly
In 1820, children age 15 and under made up 23 percent of the work force. In cotton mills with 16 or more workers, children made up 50 percent of the workers. 41 percent of the workers in wool mills were children and in paper mills 24 percent of the workers were children. Child labor was most common in textile mills.
Many children worked 60+ hours a week and made 1 dollar a week.
Philadelphia's 1820 census showed 40 percent of eleven hundred workers employed in textile firms were children.
Child Labor continued until the beginning of the 1900’s but began declining in 1840’s.
Parliament passed the Factory Act in 1833 to monitor child labor by setting a limit on the number of working hours in which a child could participate. Children nine and under could work no more than nine hour days and young adults age 13 to 18 could not work more than 12 hours.
In 1837, Massachusetts passed laws to restrict child labor on the state level by requiring at least three months of formal education in children under the age of 15.
Growing industrialization drew women from traditional work. Daughters of farmers moved to the city to seek independence and sometimes marriage. These women were drawn to factories where they could make their own money. However, wages were low, conditions harsh or dangerous, and hours were long.
The average age for leaving home was 20.5 for females.
Black Labor and Immigration
The 1830’s brought many immigrants that would work for low wages and perform unskilled labor.
The Irish took over many jobs that had traditionally been performed by freed slaves.
Rebellion and Strike
The 1830’s and 1840’s were especially marked by strikes as laborers sought better conditions, higher wages, and a ten hour work day.
Wages in Midwest and South Central regions were persistently higher than they were in the Northeast and South Atlantic.
The first organized strike for a ten hour work day was in Boston in 1825
To encourage factory owners toward less hours, President Van Buren made a ten hour work day for federal employees.
Labor organizations existed but struggled to remain strong because of unemployment. The Trade Union had 300,000 members at one point.
1842 the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that unions were not illegal. This decision made strikes legal, however many judges still disagreed with the legality of unions. (Commonwealth vs. Hunt)