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authorize Congress, first, to prohibit the labor of children below an age to be fixed by later congressional action, and, second, to limit and regulate the employment of boys and girls who are not prohibited entirely from working, and that it must, therefore, clearly give Congress power to legislate for boys and girls until they are at least 18.
As to the language of the amendment, the majority of the women's organizations favor the language of House Joint Resolution 66, which is identical with Senate Joint Resolution 19. However, in order that there might be a general agreement with various other groups working for an amendment with like objects, we have voted our willingness to accept the form introduced February 13 by Mr. Foster, House Joint Resolution 184, provided your committee sees fit to report this form. What we want is an amendment that will insure beyond reasonable doubt the objects above stated, and in behalf of these organizations, we earnestly appeal to you for a favorable report on such a resolution.
Now one word in regard to our standing for a Federal amendment empowering Congress to pass national legislation on child labor. In our minds, the duty of the Nation in setting standards of national welfare is clear. We even think it is so empowered by the original wording of the Constitution, that to look out for the general welfare is quite as much the business of the Congress as to provide for the national defense, and we feel that the general welfare is best taken care of in the welfare of the children. After all, legislation is a sort of general compulsory education, and the passing of certain legislation setting up certain minimum standards of welfare for the children below which no State may fall is the best service the Nation can do for its citizenship and its own perpetuity. It is in this spirit that these women's organizations are supporting this sort of legislation, this sort of an amendment, and our experience, which Miss Abbott has so adequately recounted to you, and the fundamental facts in the matter, which you have had so thoroughly presented, need no repetition here. This is a large group of thoughtful, publicminded women
Mr. DYER (interposing). May I ask what sections or States they represent, or what cities?
Miss STEWART. These 16 organizations, with their varied membership, represent every State in the Union, every city of any size. They represent women from the entire United States.
Mr. DYER. Have you made an analysis of the legislation that various States have enacted upon the subject of child labor?
Miss STEWART. I have looked over such analysis as the Children's Bureau has presented.
Mr. DYER. It is in the record?
Miss STEWART. Yes.
The additional point that I wish to make in behalf of these organizations is that there is this large body of thoughtful women's opinion back of this amendment. The women feel that it is a matter of enormous concern to them, and perhaps it would be of interest to you to know that almost every sort of women's organization is here represented, and no matter what we differ about on many things, it is interesting to know that wherever something has come up that concerns the children of the country, practically all of the women's
organizations were unanimous in their interest in it and their spirit for it.
Mr. DYER. Is there any opposition on behalf of any women's organization?
Miss STEWART. No. In fact, I think I can truthfully say that in every organization where I have been present I have never heard any definite opposition from any individual woman; they have always voted unanimously.
Mr. SUMNERS. In these meetings where this resolution or similar resolutions have been indorsed was there considered the possibility of taking care of this matter through State action?
Miss STEWART. Of course, lots of things were discussed in detail in the committee. I will speak for one organization, for I personally am actively at work in the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs. I have been in attendance at some of the meetings of other organizations, but not in an official capacity. We work through committees, and the committees thresh out things very carefully.
Mr. SUMNERS. I did not mean to go into your general method of operation. I was just asking the one question.
Miss STEWART. We usually thresh it out in committee and then in convention. They usually have an open discussion, and then they vote in convention. Has that answered your question?
Mr. SUMNERS. If you would like to have it go as the answer to my question.
Miss STEWART. I would rather answer your question directly. Mr. SUMNERS. My question is whether or not in these meetings prior to the indorsement of this resolution, the women specifically considered the possibility of having this matter taken care of by State action.
Miss STEWART. That phase of the subject was also discussed.
Miss STEWART. Yes; it was.
Mr. SUMNERS. And it was the judgment of these women that it would be better to undertake to handle this matter in so far as leadership is concerned by the Federal Government, rather than depend upon the building up of local opinion?
Miss STEWART. You have stated it exactly.
Mr. SUMNERS. Have you ever formed an individual judgment upon the effect of governmental operation and observed whether or not when the Federal Government steps in the disposition is for the State government to step out?
Miss STEWART. I have thought about it. My observation has been more or less general on the matter, but such information as I have acquired would seem to contradict what you say. When the National Government sets a certain standard, the States are very anxious to come up to the standard; in other words, in many cases it challenges State pride.
Mr. SUMNERS. Do you believe that the development of the sense of individual and exclusive local or State responsibility is or is not conducive to the establishment of proper interest in, say, childhood generally? Is it desirable for the State or local community to feel that there is a divided responsibility, that somebody else is looking after it?.
Miss STEWART. That is asking for a judgment on national policy. Mr. SUMNERS. We are dealing with a very important matter of governmental policy.
Miss STEWART. I think we are.
Mr. SUMNERS. That is the thing that is bothering me, the only thing. That is tremendously important, I think, and, if I may say so, I doubt that the good women who have indorsed this bill have given full consideration to the matter of governmental policy involved.
Miss STEWART. I do not think it is possible for any large group of people voting to do so as thoughtfully as might be desirable. Perhaps that is true even in Congress. Every Member of Congress does not give very careful attention to every measure, to every bill he votes for. He trusts the leadership. I think that is probably what is done in women's organizations to a certain extent. But we make an effort to have all our people well informed, and naturally on some things they do trust certain leadership. I think that is characteristic of democratic government.
Mr. SUMNERS. For the first time, so far as I know, in the history of popular government, we are undertaking the experiment of operating the Government from the top down. I do not believe it can be done. I am not convinced.
Miss STEWART. Neither do I, if you mean that the Government can take the place of individual conscience. I speak for myself. If, in my judgment, Federal leadership in setting up standards had a tendency to take away individual responsibility, it would not be desirable. However, I think it stimulates it. If the Government were to act in place of individuals or States, that might be different; but it sets up standards for them.
Mr. SUMNERS. Let us see how this bill would operate. I think it has been developed and we may assume that in the operation of the contemplated legislation you must have the issuance of permits. I believe the ladies in charge of the Welfare Bureau indicated that the proper method for regulating child labor and protecting child labor is to have somebody in the community issue permits. I do not know what the plan would be, but it would seem that perhaps in a territory so large as this Nation you must give great discretion to the individual.
Miss STEWART. That is being done now. I mean, the permits are being issued by communities and States.
Mr. SUMNERS. State officers are doing it?
Miss STEWART. Yes.
Mr. SUMNERS. Do you believe the Federal Government could pass general regulations with respect to a territory so wide? Do you think the Congress could pass general regulations that would determine all the conditions under which children should labor?
Miss STEWART. Is not that the business of the States, rather than a matter directly concerned with this amendment?
Mr. SUMNERS. I suppose it is. Then, if Congress can not do this, it must be left to the discretion of the administrative officials provided by subsequent legislation.
Miss STEWART. The Congress can do a certain part of it. It can say that certain standards are set, below which States may not fall: but the actual sort of police work that is done would probably be
local. The State laws, too, are necessary. I do not think it is our intention to take away from the States any responsibility or even the chance to do something along this line that belongs to them. We only want to stimulate them better to live up to their responsibility for their children. I think that is our feeling.
Mr. SUMNERS. I know that that is your purpose.
Miss STEWART. And we think this will work. There is a difference of opinion, and it is a very understandable difference of opinion; but there is one thing that we are agreed upon and that is by a collective and active opinion and national opinion to see that all of the children have a fair chance.
Child labor is not alone sad in what it makes the children do. It is most unfortunate in what it keeps them away from-the preparation for decent citizenship. We think that is a national responsibility, to set up that standard, and we think that that will be a step in the direction of preparing these children for decent citizenship. All legislation is, in a measure, a compulsory education, but it accomplishes something in proportion as we can stir up the minds of our people to do what the law requires.
Mr. SUMNERS. Does it occur to you that as this matter of child labor is considered and discussed, public opinion is being developed, which soon would manifest itself successfully and effectively in the States; but then, just about the time when the States would take care of the situation we get in a big hurry and rob the States of the victory, and as a result, in this and in other similar matters, we are building up here a Federal Government, a government with responsibilities beyond the capacity of the elected agents of the Government to supervise? We are creating these great big bureaus, which are ceasing to be agencies of government and are becoming governing agencies of the people. They are governing the people.
Miss STEWART. I think you have stated a point that is well taken. That could well happen, and in some cases may have happened and may happen again. When we try to force upon a people things that they are not ready for, at least in a large enough number to get the thing done, we may delay things. However, I think I can say this definitely, that, in our judgment, the time has come when national action on this subject of child labor can do nothing but speed up the States. There are times to delay, there are times to hurry, and there are times to keep apace; and we think the time has come when the National Government can not wait any longer on a reluctant State in this matter.
Mr. DYER. This policy that we are talking about is not any different than the policy which we have already considered and acted upon in connection with the national prohibition law, is it?
Miss STEWART. I should say no, as to the policy underlying it. Mr. SUMNERS. Do you think that Congressman Dyer should be justified in supporting this bill merely because of his enthusiasm in passing the prohibition bill?
Miss STEWART. I do not know.
Mr. SUMNERS. I should not have asked that question. Mr. Dyer is not a prohibitionist.
Miss STEWART. The answer to your former question is implied in the question you have just asked, namely, that no subject should be considered on any basis except on its own merits.
STATEMENT OF HON. PETER F. TAGUE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS
Mr. TAGUE. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I am not going to take up much of your time on this bill. You have heard it discussed now for several days. I merely wish to say that I appear to support the law that will regulate the labor of children in the country. I think it is one of the fundamental principles of our Government that we should take care of the future generation, the children of to-day, who are to be the men and women of this Nation to-morrow. I know of no measure that is of more importance. It outreaches any other piece of legislation, I think, that we can pass in this Congress, because it involves saying to the people of the country that the children shall have a chance in the sunshine of life.
I have been interested in this question of child labor for a long time. I had the honor of serving on a committee dealing with this subject in my own State while a member of the legislature. I have seen the growth of the law and the result of the law in my own State. I do not speak on this subject from a local viewpoint, for I think the question is so broad and so great that any man or any woman can forget the locality in the Nation in which he lives so far as the children of the Nation are concerned; for, after all, they belong to no State; they belong to the country. The child of Massachusetts to-day is the man of Iowa to-morrow, and the child of Iowa to-day is the man of South Carolina to-morrow. That has been the history of this country; that is why we have become as strong as we are.
There is no longer any question that we need the children to be the drudges of the Nation. We are big enough, are we great enough to say to the world that those whom we love and those whom we are bound to protect shall heve the protecting arm of the Nation if the States of the Nation are not ready to say that for themselves. I do not think that this matter can ever be met on the question of Federal interference with the rights of the States. It is beyond the question of Federal interference with the States; it is bigger than any State; and when the future of the Nation depends, as I say, on the manhood and the womanhood of the Nation in the near future, we have something bigger and greater and stronger than the thought that we must hesitate until the remaining States move along.
A great many States have passed these laws, a great many States believe in these laws, and a great many of the people in the States that have not passed these laws believe in them; but conditions arise, little, trifling conditions of which they take heed for the time being, which result in not only the State suffering but the Nation as well. I believe we should pass some law that would help rather than impede that progress in the building up of our institutions with a view of having the sturdy manhood and sturdy womanhood of this Nation protected in its youth.
Go into any of the States where these laws are in effect, go into any of the mill districts, yes, in my own State, and look back if you will to the conditions of 20 or 25 years ago before these laws were in effect and see the little children with their little dinner pails trudging into the mills at 6 or 7 o'clock in the morning and see them