Child Labor and England’s Industrial Revolution

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Child Labor and England’s Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution in nineteenth-century England brought about many changes in British society. It was the advent of faster means of production, growing wealth for the Nation and a surplus of new jobs for thousands of people living in poverty. Cities were growing too fast to adequately house the numerous people pouring in, thus leading to squalid living conditions, increased filth and disease, and the families reliance upon their children to survive. The exploitation of children hit an all time peak in Britain when generations of its youth were sacrificed to child labor and the “Coffers” of England. From the late 18th century to the mid 19th century, the economy in England was transformed from an agricultural to a manufacturing –based economy. In 1801, agriculture provided employment for 36% of the British population. By 1851, only 10% of the British population was employed in agriculture, while over 40% was employed in industry (Hopkins, 36). As a direct result of this transformation, a surplus of jobs were created and displaced farming families moved in to fill them. Factory and Mine owners exploited the situation by offering families a means to make more money, by putting their children to work. Industry profited from this arrangement by saving money, since child labor was more “cost effective”. According to one historian, Clark Nardinelli, “in 1835 56,000 children under the age of thirteen were working in textile factories alone. By 1874, the number of child laborers in the market hit its peak with over 122,000 children between the ages of 10 and thirteen working in textile factories (4).” ... ... middle of paper ... Cruickshank, Marjorie. (1981). Children and Industry. Oxford, Manchester: Manchester University Press. Dreary, T. (1994). The Vile Victorians. London, United Kingdom: Scholastic Publications Ltd. Evans, R. M.(1979). Children Working Underground. Cardiff, Wales: McLays. Horn, Pamela. (1994). Children’s Work and Welfare, 1780-1880’s. Houndsmills, Basingshtoke, Hampshire, London: The MacMillion Press. Hopkins, E. (1994). Childhood transformed. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Jordan, T. (1987). Victorian Childhood. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. Nardinelli, C. (1990). Child Labor and The Industrial Revolution. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. Spartacus Encyclopedia. (1997). Home page. British History 1700-1950.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that children ages 5 to 18 worked fourteen hour days within the factory system, with the allowance of a one hour break.
  • Explains that the industrial revolution lined the pockets of many people, through the use of child labor, but not all were in favor of it.
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