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We do not think we can cure it, but as the chairman has rightly said, our idea was to stop the attempt to do the sort of thing you do here. We are not endeavoring to repeal the eighteenth amendment, but we are endeavoring to have the Volstead Act conform to it. That is one of our objects and the other is to present a uniform divorce and marriage law.
Mr. MICHENER. Well, your prime purpose of organization was the repeal of the eighteenth amendment?
Mr. Fox. No, sir. It was mainly to try to preserve the rights guaranteed to us under the Constitution-to preserve the fourth and fifth amendments.
Mr. MICHENER. And you want, eventually, to bring the Volstead law into what
Mr. Fox (interposing). Into what we believe to be conformity to the eighteenth amendment. We are not attacking that amendment at all.
Mr. FOSTER. I was interested in your quotation of Mr. Coolidge when he was Vice President. Of course, I know you would be interested in his language since he has been President, in this message to Congress and what he says about the subject of child labor?
Mr. Fox. I can't account for Mr. Coolidge's statement. I am not in his confidence.
Mr. FOSTER. You do not have to be in his confidence to know what his language is in his message to the Congress.
Mr. Fox. What is his purpose?
Mr. FOSTER. The purpose is to quote him specifically on this amendment when you quote him while he was Vice President.
Mr. Fox. That is a question for you gentlemen, as it seems he has changed on a fundamental question. But I take it that you gentlemen are going to follow your oaths.
Mr. FOSTER. Neither do I say that he has changed his mind.
Mr. Fox. That is for you gentlemen. I do not want to be criticizing the President of the United States. I perhaps will not do it. That is a matter of evolution, probably.
STATEMENT OF MR. IRA JEWELL WILLIAMS, PHILADELPHIA, PA.
Mr. MICHENER. Do you represent the Philadelphia bar or do you appear here in your own person?
Mr. WILLIAMS. I appear in my own person only. The question before this committee is whether the subject matter of the proposed amendment is one which is better left to local self-government or one which should be assumed by the National Government.
Now, I take it that the fathers of young men of the day will agree that, in general, matters of local concern should be left to local administration. That was the essence of the concepts of not only Jefferson but of the other school of thought in the beginning. Local affairs are, in general, better left to the regulation by local authorities.
Now, the question is, is this a local affair? Is the question of child labor one, which in its nature, is of local concern? I should suppose that we would agree that primarily it is one of local concern. Does it affect the whole body politic of the Nation in such an extraor
dinary and unusual way as to make it an exception? Is it, for instance, like the question of the regulation of the liquor traffic, which was the first exception introduced into the Constitution in the way of a matter primarily of local concern which took away from the localities the power of local self-government?
Mr. HERSEY. The liquor traffic is a matter of local concern-do I understand you to say that?
Mr. WILLIAMS. I would say so-primarily the regulation of liquor traffic; and it was so regarded for a century and a half as a matter of local concern.
Mr. MONTAGUE. Otherwise it would have fallen within the interstate-commerce clause of the Constitution, and amendment of the Federal Constitution would not have been necessary?
Mr. WILLIAMs. Yes, sir; I would say so. But I stand also on the proposition that that regulation of individuals in the matter of food and drink is primarily of local concern. The exception was made in what was believed to be a very unusual situation, an exception that was believed by many intelligent men and women to be such a terrible situation and struck so deeply at the roots of society that it could not be handled in any other way than as a national matter. Whether as human characteristics are, it is going to remain a matter of national regulation is to be developed.
Now you have made one exception. It should be borne in mind every effort to transfer the administration of the law, and that is that to-day the man who takes a drink or who sells a drink containing more than one-half of 1 per cent of liquor (and this is merely by way of illustration) is guilty of a crime both against the State and against the Constitution, under the concurrent clause; and he can be tried either in the State court or in the Federal Court and his acquittal in either court is no defense to a subsequent trail and conviction for the other offense. That, I submit, is a gross injustice in the particular
Mr. MICHENER. There is one member of the committee who has had in mind this amendment, in itself involving enough to justify its consideration. The argument he made is that the question of child labor is a national question; that children move from State to State; that there is no uniformity of legislation: that the industry of one State can not be protected when they have a more rigid child labor law than in other States. If I am not doing you hurt I hope I am doing you good by directing your attention to the matters that I think the committee have under consideration in reference to this very important constitutional amendment and it would occur to me that it was not quite necessary to illustrate the effect of this particuar amendment by what might have been done by another.
Mr. WILLIAMS. My only thought, if the committee please, is that that is another radical departure, and it is the second attempted radical departure from the very fundamental and original frame work of the concepts of the fathers that matters of local concern are better dealt with locally and that local matters should be dealt with by the local authorities.
Mr. MICHENER. Why was the concept of the fathers the better concept? May it not be considered that they were wrong?
Mr. WILLIAMS. Certainly. I hope it may not be conceived that we have not improved, but it is well that steps be taken with care. Mr. LARSON. Do you not think that matters of physical welfare and education are of national concern?
Mr. WILLIAMS. I think I could argue on half a dozen other matters where it might be urged just as well as in this-
Mr. LARSON (interposing). Just take this argument.
Mr. WILLIAMS. I think it is of great importance. Of course the question of the danger of child labor it may be possible to exaggerate. If I may be permitted to say a word on that score, I began to work, and worked hard, at 11 years of age, and it never stunted my growth. Before 13 I entered into contracts for packing oranges and shipping oranges, and I worked one winter in order to get money enough to come north from Florida, and the idea that any boy of initiative, or and boy who wants to better his condition should be prevented by law from doing just that sort of thing is one which seems to me is in the direction, not of wise regulation, but rather the putting of the clamps on the reasonable individual who even under 14 or 15 may have personal ambition in him to see that it is to his advantage to work hard in order to get a good education.
Mr. FOSTER. Then, under your argument you would not need any regulation, either by the State or by the Federal Government?
Mr WILLIAMS. Well, that is the reductio ad absurdum. It would have been very unfortunate for me at that time if I had been prevented from working. I would not have gotten to Philadelphia, and I would not have been here to-day. But of course that is a personality.
The question is whether child labor is of such character as to make it necessary to take it away from local authorities and give it to the Federal Government. My personal opinion is this: There is something in the very essence of local self-government that appeals to you as of individual responsibility. If you get the unit of Government too big, if you get it centered at Harrisburg or Washington, two or three thousand miles away from some of the sections of the country and if the people get the idea that it is to be carried there, there is a fundamental idea that it is not freedom.
Is it necessary that Congress should take the matter in its hands? The argument, as I understand it, is that it is not done right by the State. It has not been done adequately by the State. Therefore it is a matter for Congress-"Let George do it." There are some backward States, I understand, which have failed to live up to the high ideals of the more forward-looking States, the more progressive States as they regard themselves, and have failed to introduce and pass laws which adequately represent, perhaps, the majority senti. ment of the entire Republic.
Now, what are you going to do with those States? In every case, no matter how important the subject matter, in which you find that to be the case will you say, "We will throw that into the hands of Congress; we will make that a national matter because some States have failed, because there are some backward States?" Isn't the other point of view that this particular subject of child labor has moved along by giant strides (the reform through the regulation of child labor), worthy of your consideration? Your committee is
doubtless fully informed as to the steps that have been made in the various States in that direction, doubtless as to the data which should be referred to you and as to the States which have no child-labor law and those which have adequate child-labor laws.
Take State A, whether it be in the North or South, and has not an adeqaute child labor law; because that State and a half dozen other States have failed to pass what a majority of the people regard an adequate child-labor law, would that justify taking it into the hands of the Federal Government?
It seems to me to allow the matter to proceed in the orderly and natural way toward converting the local people so that when they do act it will come out of their hearts and their brains they will see that that law is enforced because after all, the question of the loy alty-the belief in the adherence to the law is as important as the lex scripta itself. You may write a law but when it comes to its enforcement you will have to have a considerable number of sleuths or inspectors selected at Washington or sent from Washington to go to those backward States and try to jack them up or to see that their morals are improved by the majority of the people. But you will have to proceed in the other way, through the natural process of evolution and discretion to persuade those States that it is to their best interest and to the best interest of the country that they should regulate this in the proper way.
All of the people who have written on the subject of the wisdom of maintaining the distinction between things that are local and things that are Federal have asserted what seems to me to be the common-sense proposition that the moment you take away from the locality that power-you take it away from the people of the locality and you impose upon them from above the commandment, "You have got to do something more that you did not want to do, that the people of an entire State preferred not to do "--the moment you begin to do that you begin to transform this Republic from an "indissoluble Union of indestructible States" to allow a department, in part at least, to be administered by bureaucrats from Washington. I should greatly deplore that anything I have said would give the impression that I am not in sympathy with reasonable regulation of child labor or hours of labor, or any subject matter regarded as within the police power. The only question is from where shall it be regulated. Shall it be regulated by the people themselves who know their conditions?
I have no fear of State rights. I believe it merely gives to the people of the State the right to regulate their own affairs according to the dictates of their consciences and to the extent that those affairs are not national in their scope. Because if there is no escape from the logic of the conclusion that child labor is a matter that is so exceptional, so extraordinary as to require the taking away of it from the State and putting it into the Nation, there are other subjects just as important.
But from the standpoint of a father I can tell you that I believe there is more harm done in this country to-day by the evil of moving pictures than is done by all the working in factories of children. And I have been to both places and I have two sons of my own, full grown. I believe that the fetid atmosphere and the evil of immoral
moving pictures are far greater evils in their effect upon the mind than working in fields or factories, no matter how poorly regulated. And if the States are willing to allow that, if they allow working in factories where the atmosphere is fetid and unfit, if the States fail to regulate the tenement problem, which is a matter that goes to the very roots of society, shall the Nation take it over because some of the States have failed?
Is not the education of children just as important as the question of whether children shall be allowed to work? And if some of the backwood States have failed to educate their children properly would that be a reason for transferring the whole power to the Federal Government? It is not as if this were a small country. A country of 110,000,000 people, with the enormous physical size of our country, the very attempt to administer a new Federal law over that vast territory against the wishes and desires of some of the citizens of the United States is an attempt which results often in confusion and in friction.
Some of you who have lived in remote parts have probably had the experience of administration of a law which is absolutely and essentially a Federal law, and some Federal officials have construed that law so as to make it a great evil.
The impression I had this morning when I came from Philadelphia to go down to the department and I said, "You have done thus and so, your ruling means thus and so, it means that the throat is cut." Do you realize what you are doing?
You would have to have a lot of administrative divisions who would have to have a great many inspectors who would have to be literally unpopular in certain communities. Isn't it natural that business men should think that a halt should be called on such a proposition as this? Because business men now feel that they are harrassed by an infinite complexity of laws and regulations with which they have to comply and which is a heavy burden upon their business. And here is another one, for instance. Take the people from the States in which the most enlightened law has been passed. They do not want this amendment. The business men do not want the amendment. As a business man I should say it merely means you will have to watch out for an additional number of regulations and an additional number of inspectors in respect to the same subject matter, and you have to be careful that you do not run afoul of your own State law or the Federal law.
Mr. SUMNERS. What has the business man got to do with this? Mr. WILLIAMS. I supposed, sir, that the business man is an important factor in the community and the business man is assumed to be a patriotic gentleman whose desire is for the best interests of his country and he is entitled to be heard as much as any other citizen on the question of the wisdom of an amendment to the fundamental law of the country.
Mr. SUMNERS. Do you think his opinion should be considered in arriving at a proper conclusion with regard to child labor?
Mr. WILLIAMS. I should think his convenience should be considered.
Mr. YATES. What authority do you have for saying that the most enlightened people are not for the amendment?