The Question of Child Labor
December 21, 1913 — Boston Socialist Party, Franklin Union Hall, Boston MA
If the State upon scientific ground is attempting to shut the road to wage earning for young children it must be ready to supply them with the means of existence.
Following the general deduction that the majority of children go to work because of the immediate need of bread, we must give them their daily bread if they are to live. A family whose per capita income, after the rent is paid, is less than $1.50 a week needs the few dollars made by the children less than 16 years of age. That such families are in the majority among our workers may be judged from the United States statistics, which place the average earning of a grown man at $11.34 a week.
We, the Socialists, claim that since child labor is a blot upon our civilization and since the children are sent to work because they must have bread and clothing immediately the State should assume the responsibility of supplying them with food and clothing, as it supplies them with books and instructors at present.
We go a step further and say that since the children of today are the men and women of tomorrow it is in the interest of society at large to give each new born child an equality of opportunity, whereby it would be enabled to receive bodily care and a thorough education in order to fit it to take its place on the battlefield of life.
The aim of Socialism is to place the adult worker in the possession of the necessary tools of production, so that he would not be compelled to part with the lion’s share of t his wage for the mere privilege of their use. Socialism proposes to offer each adult worker a certainty of livelihood and thus enable him to take care of his own.
The Socialists and the Socialist party exponents do not build their hope on phantom dreams, but upon a scientific analysis of present day conditions which tend to ever greater centralization of the means of production and distribution.
Your forefathers achieved independence by fighting with muskets, but you live in an age when the guns are in the possession of your opponents. You don’t need guns, for you can accomplish more than your forefathers did, by the use of your ballots.
If we continue to let children go to their deaths and thousands of women to their degradation, a clash is bound to come sooner or later. Why not avert it with your ballots?
The question of child labor is a National question and not one confined to a certain locality. It exists in the cultured city of Boston, even as it does in the backwoods of Georgia and North Carolina. It is a question that cannot be shifted upon the shoulders of the foreign population. Hundreds of thousands, nay millions of American children, are sacrificed yearly on its altar.
Source: The Boston Globe, December 22, 1913, p. 13.