The Impact Of Child Labor During The Industrial Revolution

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During the time period 1876 to 1900 American businesses and industries progressed due to new inventions and opportunities that increased production and allowed businesses and industries to flourish. This period was known as the “Rise of Industrial America” (Eastern Illinois University) and allowed the United States to become an industrial leader but at what expense? One of the biggest problems that came along with this progress was the need for a bigger work force to keep up with the demand for products and raw materials needed to help businesses grow. A majority of these new workers were immigrants who had come to America to find fortune only to learn that the “land of golden opportunity” was not always real. Also, many workers were those who had left the farms to find work and a better life in the growing industrialized cities. However the reality was that factory jobs did not pay enough to support an entire family. Therefore all members of a family including children had to work long hours just to keep families out of poverty. The use of child labor sprung up during the late 1800’s leading two million children as young as three years old to work in dangerous factories. The issue of child labor, the employment of young children in factories and other industries was one of the most intense issues of the time. During the Industrial Revolution working children were exposed to harmful conditions on farms, in factories and on the streets and deprived of an education until reforms took place in industrialized cities in America. On the farms children were expected to: haul heavy loads beyond their weight, work long hours in extreme heat, use dangerous tools and heavy machinery in order to till the fields, and pick, plant and harvest... ... middle of paper ... ...America’s ability to produce and sustain its own economy. Child labor was a major component of this emerging industrial force and was subject to harmful, unhealthy and dangerous conditions in order to satisfy the demands of the manufacturers. Education was often neglected because it was viewed that children had an obligation to work, to contribute to the much-needed financial support of the family. Industrialists rationalized their abuse and exploitation of laborers by stating that factory employment encouraged the development of a trade, provided income to the family and reduced the states financial cost of supporting orphans. With the publicity of the harsh conditions in mines, mills and factories reforms were difficult but eventually Congress passed laws such as, The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which protected the rights of children in the labor force.
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