« ПретходнаНастави »
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN JACOB ROGERS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM MASSACHUSETTS
Mr. ROGERS. I think I approach this question, so far as the problem which confronts the committee at this time is concerned, somewhat differently than the previous speakers. I think that it must be admitted, or assumed, that the sentiment of the country is overwhelmingly in favor of the suppression of child labor, irrespective of the route by which individuals may believe we should proceed. I think there is no serious dissent to the proposition that the childlabor menace must be controlled. Then comes the question of how that result shall be achieved.
Congress has spoken twice upon the subject, both times by overwhelming majorities; and I think in each case the decision of Congress was approved generally by the people of the United States. In other words, there is a disposition both in Congress and throughout the country to recognize that we have here a Federal problem. Some gentlemen will dissent from the wisdom of that decision, but it seems to me perfectly clear that in both Congress and out of Congress there is in the child-labor problem a really and truly Federal problem. Each time that we have legislated, we have sought to invoke the powers of Congress under the two different clauses of the Constitution with which you are familiar. Each time cases have gone to the Supreme Court of the United States, and after a very considerable delay the Supreme Court has declared that the action of Congress was outside its powers. In all, it has taken some six or seven years for Congress to make these two experiments, only to learn that each experiment was beyond its powers to make. So that we are exactly where we started from 10 or 15 years ago when the question of congressional legislation on the subject was first broached.
Now, assuming that the country thinks that this presents a Federal problem, and assuming that Congress has done all it possibly could, but in vain, to work out the problem through congressional legislation, the only thing left is a constitutional amendment. Now, gentlemen, I am as much opposed as any member of this committee can be to tinkering with the Constitution; nevertheless, sometimes we all agree that a constitutional amendment is proper. It is a matter of judgment as to whether it shall be deemed proper in this case or not. My own view is that it is proper, because of the far-reaching consequences to the generations to come.
That this situation as to child labor shall be as effectively controlled as possible, I have a resolution upon this subject which I should like to have printed with my remarks. I will not burden the committee by reading it. It is House Resolution No. 32. It provides for a constitutional amendment simply because we have gone as far as we can to find a remedy through a statute. I should personally welcome the prediction that there were still some statutory way of working out this problem.
(Upon request, Mr. Rogers here read his resolution, which is printed with similar resolutions in the appendix hereto.)
Mr. ROGERS. So far as I am concerned, I do not expect that Congress will legislate up to the full authority contained in that language. I doubt if it would be at all wise in the immediate future for
Congress to go as far as that language would permit, but, as I said a moment ago, and as a majority of the members of the committee also feel, I do not believe in constantly nibbling at the Constitution. I think we want to go as far this time as advancing public sentiment may ever insist that we shall go. Therefore, I propose a very liberal maximum, both as regards the general legislation for women and as regards the age at which a person shall cease to be a minor.
Mr. SUMNERS. Why not just propose a general amendment; then we will not have to amend the Constitution any more.
Mr. ROGERS. I thank you, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee.
Mr. LINEBERGER. I would like to request of the committee that House Joint Resolution 87 be included as part of my remarks.
The CHAIRMAN. I will say that all of the resolutions will be printed in the appendix, so that they will all appear. There are about 20 in number before the committee.
STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM P. CONNERY, JR., A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM MASSACHUSETTS
Mr. CONNERY. I wish to place myself on record as absolutely in favor of an amendment to the Constitution prohibiting child labor. You have my own bill which I have submitted, House Resolution 199. It is along the same line as that of Mr. Rogers.
I have listened very interestingly to the remarks of Mr. Dallinger and to the questions of the gentlemen of the committee. I was very much interested in the remarks of my colleague across from meI do not remember the gentleman's name-in reply to what the chairman of the committee said about the young man trying to earn his living, that if you add this amendment to the Constitution which would stop him from working you would be interfering with that fellow's right to earn a living. I think the gentleman's answer was very good.
If we add this amendment to the Constitution, we will take away from these big corporations the opportunity of sending little children into the mills. We will compel these big organizations to pay to the fathers of these children the money that they now pay to the little fellows, giving the fathers a chance to get a decent living and giving the children a chance to go to school.
I think I agree with everything that was said by Mr. Dallinger and Mr. Rogers. I am not in favor of generally tinkering with the Constitution, but I believe this is a big national problem. I believe that the great majority of the people of the United States are in favor of this amendment.
If the States have not sufficient desire and have not enough public spirit to protect the little children of the United States, I, for one, am in favor of forcing them to do so. I believe that Congress should pass one of these resolutions which gives Congress the power to control this matter. That does not mean that children under the age of 18 can not go to work, but it gives the Congress the power to say whether they can go to work or not and whether conditions demand that these children should waste their young lives when they should be going to school.
The CHAIRMAN. On that branch of the subject I think there is no disagreement. The disagreement arises upon the question of the advisability of adopting a constitutional amendment; that is the only difficulty.
Mr. CONNERY. You mean it should be left to the States? not think so, for it is apparent that some four or five States of the Union will not protect their children in this respect. However, I do not believe that the people in those States are in favor of child labor; it is the big moneyed interests that are forcing public sentiment against the abolition of child labor.
Mr. BOIES. Do you not think that this regulation ought to be confined to certain sorts of work, rather than to make it so general that the boy out on the farm can refuse to go get an armful of wood or a basket of eggs for his mother?
Mr. CONNERY. I think that should be applied to the boy on the farm also.
Mr. BOIES. Have you observed boys who grew up to 16 years of age who did not have some little employment along the way, of that kind?
Mr. CONNERY. We would not stop any boy from going out to get an armful of wood on the farm. But I do not believe in children being on the farm when they ought to be going to school.
Mr. BOIES. They do not go to school on Saturdays, and they are not in school after 4 o'clock.
Mr. CONNERY. Congress could legislate that a child can do some work on Saturday. They can do that now in Massachusetts.
Mr. BOIES. I think the law should be specifically directed to, say, factories and mines and such things as that, and not make it so general.
Mr. CONNERY. Doesn't the gentleman think of the fellow on the farm? Now if a farmer should pay good wages to the
Mr. BOIES (interposing). The farmers are paying the laborer more money to-day than they can afford to pay.
Mr. CONNERY. I think it would help the whole country if you regulated child labor so that you would have to pay the men good
Mr. SUMNERS. You say that there are four or five States that have not yet adopted child labor laws, and that they ought to be coerced. Now swing around to the other. It is a comparatively short time ago that this movement began, and now, through the efforts of the people in the States, they have reduced this condition until the evil exists in its worst forms in four or five States. You might be able, in those four or five States, to get the legislatures to do their duty, and thus leave the States in control of this matter.
Mr. CONNERY. We talk about public opinion in the States. You know that in many States public opinion is governed by the newspapers, and it is the man who has the money who can regulate public opinion.
Mr. MONTAGUE. Is that propaganda more prevalent in the States or at Washington?
Mr. CONNERY. But if you have any State that is dominated by big interests, it is difficult to start propaganda in favor of regulating child labor.
Mr. SUMNERS. Do you not think it would be better for the children themselves if we could get the people of the States to take a novel interest in childhood and do this? That it would be better for the children for the States to do this thing than to have the Federal Government come in and coerce the States?
Mr. CONNERY. Perhaps it will take 200 years to get the people of some States to do the things they ought to have done long ago. Mr. SUMNERS. You do think that you can run this Government from the top down?
Mr. CONNERY. No; I do not; but I do think that any big national problem which affects the people of the United States ought to be handled by the Federal Government.
Mr. SUMNERS. Well, there is another national problem involved in this discussion. You want to educate their heads, and one gentleman has suggested that they must work in order to feed their bodies; and now right behind this comes the question of the National Government providing for the proper feeding of the children in order that they can go to school and not work.
Mr. CONNERY. I would be in favor of anything on feeding the children.
Mr. SUMNERS. By the National Government?
Mr. CONNERY. By the State.
Mr. SUMNERS. But you do not leave anything to the States. Do you not think that if you can educate the people of the States to the point where they will see that these children do not have to work, that you will then have a local purpose to see that they are properly fed?
Mr. ČONNERY. You have that in the States now, where they give the children lunches in the noon hour.
Mr. SUMNERS. But if by national legislation you free the children from this child labor, don't you think you weaken the probability of the taking care of the children by the States. I mean that you have got a chance in this field to make a fight in the States, to arouse a general interest in childhood that will make the people of those States see that the children are properly fed and clothed. I am not certain about my judgment, and I am telling you what my difficulties are. I think you are losing a chance for childhood by taking this fight away from the States and by trying to get the Federal Government go in there and say, "You have got to do something."
Mr. CONNERY. Do you not think you could get the same interest in those States with a constitutional amendment?
STATEMENT OF HON. HENRY ALLEN COOPER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM WISCONSIN
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Cooper.
Mr. COOPER. I did not expect when I came here this morning to say anything, but one of the gentlemen of the committee kindly came to me and asked me if I wished to speak. I told him that I did not; but in view of some of the questions that have been propounded I shall address you very briefly.
I picked up a pamphlet this morning before I came here, and I recall that there is an answer in that pamphlet to one of the questions
that was asked, and that is with respect to permitting the States to regulate this. A striking example of the need for a country-wide standard was found on the border of a State whose requirements were high. In a State adjoining, children were allowed to work for longer hours and at an earlier age, so that many children from the State which sought to protect its children, and who were not allowed to work at home, crossed the river on the ferry and secured employment in the other. The manufacturers in the State with the higher standards bitterly complained of this, but the citizens who wished to see the children of their State protected had no way to overcome the evil. Many similar examples could be given, especially in connection with the seasonal industries where whole families will migrate from one State to another.
The CHAIRMAN. That circular, sir, is in the hands of each member of the committee.
Mr. COOPER. Yes; but that answers the question that was raised. Only 13 States have as high requirements with regard to children working in factories, mills, and workshops as had the two Federal laws. Some States fall below nearly all of the European countries in the protection which they give to working children.
Now, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, think of the Republic of the United States, which is supposed to be the great exemplar in the protection of human rights, protecting its children less efficiently and effectively than several of the countries of continental Europe where proverbially children have been left to shift for themselves until comparatively very recently.
Now, then, this proposition that the States will regulate this brings to mind the fact that George Washington, who did not believe in human slavery, and Thomas Jefferson, who bitterly condemned it, both had slaves. They thought that in the process of time public opinion would force slavery out of the States; but it took a war, and the piling up of a debt of four billions of dollars, and the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives in the bitterest and most terrible of civil wars to do away with what the States would not do for themselves.
Mr. MONTAGUE. Do you not think those States would have abolished slavery in the course of 10 or 15 years had they been left alone?
Mr. COOPER. They had from the time the Constitution was adopted been discussing it, but they never made any attempt to do away with it. And another thing, Governor. When the Constitution was adopted it took longer to go from Rochester, N. Y., or from the county in which it is located, to Albany or at least to New York City-and these are all in one State-than it takes now to go from San Francisco to New York City. Time and distance have been annihilated. Competitive conditions in all kinds of industry are so utterly different from what they were when the Constitution was adopted and when these arguments about State rights were first inaugurated, that it is almost impossible to discuss them on any comparative basis. Conditions are not alike at all. Here we have a man sitting at the telephone and telling his factory 2,000 miles away what he wants shipped into this or that territory; but when George Washington and the other men of that time drafted the