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US History | John Spargo & Child Labor in the Progressive Era Back Then | Scoop.it

Reforming the New Industrial Order

 

Reforming the Workplace 
 

In 1900 the average laborerworked nearly 10 hours a day, six days a week, for about $1.50 a day. Women and children earned even less.

Female and child laborers. In the early 1910s almost half of the women who worked in such jobs as factory workers, store clerks, and laundresses earned less than $6 a week. The Commission on Industrial Relations reported in 1916 that this salary "means that every penny must be counted, every normal desire stifled, and each basic necessity of life barely satisfied."

Women often faced significant barriers when they tried to increase their income. For instance, pieceworkers could be penalized for working too fast. Rebecca August, a buttonhole maker in Chicago, recalled that she was paid 3.5 cents per buttonhole. When her supervisor realized how many buttonholes she was able to make—and thus how much money she could earn—he cut her pay. The supervisor said,"It was an outrage for a girl to make $25 a week." When August tried to organize a protest, her employer fired her.

The commission's report also attacked child labor practices. It declared, "The Nation is paying a heavy toll in ignorance, deformity of body or mind, and premature old age [among children]." In The Bitter Cry of the Children (1906), John Spargo charged the textile industries with the "enslavement of children." He reported that children were employed to do work that he "could not do . . . and live."

Spargo found that few child laborers had ever attended school or could read. Many mothers explained that they put their children to work in the mills because it was either that or their entire family would starve. During an investigation of a miners' strike in 1903, a nine-year-old child reported that he was being forced to pay money that his father, who had died in the mine, owed the company for rent.


Labor laws. Progressives and labor union activists campaigned for new laws that would prohibit or limit child labor and improve conditions for female workers. Reformer FlorenceKelley worked tirelessly for this cause. She helped persuade the Illinois legislature in 1893 to prohibit child labor and to limit the number of hours women could work.

Although most children worked in agriculture, children in the factories—more than 2 million by 1910—faced the worst conditions. Reformers heard stories of supervisors splashing cold water on children's faces to keep them awake and of girls working 16 or more hours a day in canning factories. Orphans also were sent to work in factories. "Capital has neither morals nor ideals," cried one critic.

In 1904 Kelley helped organize the National Child Labor Committee to persuade state legislatures to pass laws against employing young children. By 1912, child-labor laws had been passed in 39 states. Some states even limited older children's employment to 8 or 10 hours a day and barred them from working at night or in dangerous occupations. Other states required that children be able to read and write before they were sent to work.

Enforcement of such laws was lax, however. Claiming that their business success depended on cheap child labor, many employers simply refused to obey the laws and continued to hire child workers. George Creel was a journalist and the author of Children in Bondage (1913). He estimated that "at least two million children were being fed annually into the steel hoppers of the modern industrial machine . . . all mangled in mind, body, and soul."

Progressives also campaigned for laws to force factories to limit the hours employers demanded. In 1903 Florence Kelley helped lobby the Oregon legislature to pass a law limiting female laundry workers to 10-hour days. Earlier, Utah had enacted a law limiting workdays to eight hours in certain occupations.

Progressive reformers also fought for higher wages. Some 30 million men and 7.5 million women were employed in 1910, and about one third of them lived in poverty. That year Catholic Church official Monsignor John Ryan called for "the establishment by law of minimum rates of wages that will equal or approximate the normal standards of living for the different groups of workers." Two years later Massachusetts responded to progressive lobbying by passing the nation's first minimum-wage law. This law set base wages for women and children. Other states gradually followed suit. Not until 1938, however, did Congress pass a national minimum-wage law.

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Child Labor

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John Spargo & Child Labor in the Progressive Era Back Then

John Spargo and Child labor Laws Essay

 

John Spargo helped child labor laws in the progressive era

 

John Spargo was born in Longdowns, Cornwall on January 31st in 1876. He was a muckraker/journalist and was a famous socialist in the progressive era. In 1917 he became a leading anti-communist. . John Spargo published a book called The Bitter Cry of the Children, which is about the problems women and children faced for working hardships in the progressive era. Many women and children worked for less pay and had to work in unsanitary conditions. During the Progressive Era there was a need for child labor laws most muckrakers did not agree with the progressive era so they wanted to find a solution for it.

 

John Spargo became a muckraker to help the devastating problems faced with child labor laws. He wanted to find a solution to stop child labor laws from being inhumane because all the employers wanted was the profit. Employers did not care about their workers and in what conditions they were working in.

 

Child labor still exist today, the different is that they are now called sweatshops. Sweatshops are defined by the US Department of labor as a factory that violates two or more labor laws, such as those pertaining to wages and benefits, child labor or working hours.  

 

The US Department of labor today is constantly enforcing workplaces where workers are subject to extreme exploitation of arbitrary discipline, poor working conditions, and the absences of a living wage to either change their business practices or go out of business.  

 

If John Spargo were alive today, Mr. Spargo would be in charge of a representative of The US Department of Labor, supervising businesses to ensure that they comply to the harsh guidelines of the department or else.

 

 I think the progressive era was a hardship time for women and children but considered unfair business practices that lead to employers wanting to quit. In the end John Spargo would be a famous person for helping out to find a solution to the progressive era issue on child labor.

 

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John Spargo & Child Labor in the Progressive Era Back Then

John Spargo & Child Labor in the Progressive Era Back Then | John Spargo & Child Labor in the Progressive Era Back Then | Scoop.it

Annotations:

The Articals are about about John Spargo and what he did in the progressive Era to help fight against child labor laws.

They also talk about how child labor affects us today and how it is Similar and different then it was in the late1800's to1900's.

How women and children were treated during the child labor issue.

what wok conddions they had to work in.

How much they worked for in the business/company.

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"A well-marked course: The life and works of John Spargo" by Kenneth Howard Hilton

John Spargo and Child Labor

 

Typically John Spargo (1876-1966) merits only brief mention by historians as a progressive era child labor muckraker, a leader of the 1917 pro-war secession from the Socialist Party, or as an example of an early socialist who later became a conservative Republican. This study attempts to provide a more complete and comprehensive biography of the man. The many and various chapters of Spargo's life are traced within both the context of his entire life, and of the times in which he lived. Where others, examining Spargo's life in fragments, have seen inconsistency and perfidy, this study finds constancy.

Spargo's formative years are examined to discover those experiences, forces and ideals which shaped his own values, and animated his life and works. Three dominant life-long ideologies are identified: 19th century Liberalism, Romantic aestheticism, and evangelical Protestantism. These ideological forces remained firm through his life, guiding Spargo's beliefs and behaviors.

There is more here than just the story of a man and his many achievements. Tracing Spargo's life provides new perspectives about a variety of important events, institutions, and historical themes of the past century. The importance of evangelical Protestantism and Romantic aestheticism as formative elements of early British and American socialism is shown. So too is the recognition that American socialism of the early 20th century was a variant of the larger progressive reform movement. Significant roots of early United States-Soviet diplomacy are illuminated. The dimensions and patterns of post-World War I intellectual disillusionment are also examined. And Spargo proves to be an almost perfect model of those "Old Progressives" who in the 1930s opposed the New Deal. Finally, John Spargo's life and career, stretching from the Victorian Era through the mid-20th century, tell us much about the origins and ideological nature of modern liberal reform.

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Decreasing Child Labor in 2012 : NL-Aid

Decreasing Child Labor in 2012 : NL-Aid | John Spargo & Child Labor in the Progressive Era Back Then | Scoop.it
DECREASING CHILD LABOR IN 2012

Posted on | februari 2, 2012 | No Comments

One of the biggest priorities in 2012 is to decrease child labor. According to the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) most recent global estimate, 215 million children worldwide are involved in under-age employment.

On the positive side, the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) latest 2010 global report,Accelerating action against child labour, showed a slight decline in child labor. Most significantly, children workers between the ages of five and fourteen decreased by 10%. Growing international efforts to increase awareness and prevent discrimination of girls may be to thank for a 15% decrease in female child labor.
However, these improvements may only represent a shift in the ages of child laborers and a decrease in the most harmful types of labor alone.  While child labor among girls may be on the decline, the number of under-aged boys employed has sadly increased by 7%.   Additionally, while children aged 5 to 14 worked less, the employment of 15 to 17 year-olds increased by 20%, from 52 million to 62 million.  The biggest global concern is that the majority of child laborers, some three-fourths, are engaged in the worst forms of child labor, including: child soldiers, sexual exploitation and hazardous work in industries such as brick manufacturing.

Following the 2010 report, the ILO took key steps to increase the prevention and decline of child labor. First, the ILO endorsed a Global Action Plan for achieving the elimination of the worst forms of child labor by 2016.  The the ambitious plan was then accompanied by the 2011 ILO report, Children in Hazardous Work: What we Know, What we Need to Know. According to the report there are 115 million children engaged in the most hazardous forms of labor, which endangers children’s safety, health and development across the globe.  The report highlighted the recent rise in hazardous work among older children and stated growing evidence that adolescents suffer higher rates of injury at work compared to adult workers.

The battle to decrease child labor in 2012 and keep on track with the 2016 goals will be difficult, especially amid growing concerns that the ongoing global economic crisis is  impeding efforts.  As the stretched economy increased demand for cheap products, it subsequently raised the demand for cheap and slave labor, thus contributing to global poverty.  Child labor has a direct link to poverty, and provides a substantial barrier to a child’s education, increasing the literacy gap. Education is often taken for granted in developing nations; however, many poor and impoverished families are forced to face the choice of whether to send their children to school or to work to help the family. It is that choice that has sent millions of children out of the classroom, most often girls, to toil in fields, factories, homes and the streets.

As we close the first month of the year, headlines are already brewing about child labor violations by Apple, Hersey and the cocoa industry, as well as thecotton industry.  It appears that while the fight against child labor looks to be on the forefront of the global agenda, the road ahead for 2012 will continue to be rocky.  See the follow-up of this article, Battling Child Labor in the Cocoa and Cotton Fields, tomorrow for an analysis on recent reports of child labor violations.

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World Day Against Child Labour 2012: Human rights and social justice... let's end child labour

World Day Against Child Labour 2012: Human rights and social justice... let's end child labour | John Spargo & Child Labor in the Progressive Era Back Then | Scoop.it
  World Day Against Child Labour 2012: Human rights and social justice... let's end child labour  

 

This year the World Day Against Child Labour will provide a spotlight on the right of all children to be protected from child labour and from other violations of fundamental human rights. In 2010 the international community adopted a Roadmap for achieving the elimination of the worst forms of child labour by 2016, which stressed that child labour is an impediment to children’s rights and a barrier to development. World Day 2012 will highlight the work that needs to be done to make the roadmap a reality.

The ILO’s Conventions seek to protect children from exposure to child labour. Together with other international instruments relating to children’s, workers’ and human rights they provide an important framework for legislation established by national governments. However the ILO’s most recent global estimate is that 215 million children worldwide are involved in child labour, with more than half this number involved in its worst forms.1 The children concerned should be at school being educated, and acquiring skills that prepare them for decent work as adults. By entering the labour market prematurely, they are deprived of this critical education and training that can help to lift them, their families and communities out of a cycle of poverty. In its worst forms, child labourers may also be exposed to physical, psychological or moral suffering that can cause long term damage to their lives.

On this World Day we call for:

Universal ratification of the ILO’s Conventions on child labour (and of all ILO core Conventions) National policies and programmes to ensure effective progress in the elimination of child labour Action to build the worldwide movement against child labour ILO standards on rights at work

The principles and rights established in eight ILO core Conventions are also regarded as human rights which all ILO Member States are required to respect, promote and realise. The ”fundamental principles and rights at work” concern freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, the elimination of forced or compulsory labour, the abolition of child labour, and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation. The four categories of rights are mutually reinforcing: the elimination of child labour will be achieved much more quickly and efficiently when the other rights are also respected.

A background brief highlighting the linkage between child labour and the other fundamental labour rights will be prepared in advance of the World Day. This will be based largely on the ILO’s 2012 recurrent report on fundamental rights and an Article 19 survey on fundamental rights, both of which will be discussed at the International Labour Conference in June 2012.

Concerning child labour, the ILO Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) requires States to specify in law a minimum age for admission to employment not less than the age of finishing compulsory education, and which in any case, should not be less than 15 years. A member country whose economy and educational facilities are insufficiently developed may under certain conditions initially specify a minimum age of 14 years.2

The ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) calls for “immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition of the worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency”. The worst forms are defined as:

All forms of slavery, or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom, as well as forced labour, including forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict. The use, procurement or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances. The use, procurement or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in relevant international treaties. Work which, by its nature or circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children, such harmful work to be determined by national authorities. Other key international standards and declarations

Over the years, growing awareness of the need to ensure that children receive education and protection has spurred the development of a body of international standards to help guide governments in enacting domestic legislation.

The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights features the right to education prominently stating that “Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available…”

There is near universal ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention states that children have the right to be protected from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. It also states that primary education should be compulsory and available free to all and encourages the development of different forms of secondary education available and accessible to every child. The United Nations General Assembly has also adopted two Optional Protocols to the Convention to increase the protection of children from involvement in armed conflicts and from sexual exploitation.3

The importance of protecting fundamental principles and rights at work during the ongoing global financial and jobs crisis was reflected in the communiqué of the G20 Summit held in November 2011 which encouraged the ILO to continue promoting ratification and implementation of the core Conventions ensuring fundamental principles and rights at work.

Ratification and implementation of ILO Conventions on child labour

Although the ILO’s child labour Conventions are among the most widely ratified of ILO Conventions there is a need for countries that have not yet ratified the Conventions to do so, and to ensure their effective implementation. On this World Day we call on all governments that have not already done so to ratify and implement the Conventions.

National policies and programmes

The ILO’s Convention No. 182 requires that each Member which ratifies the Convention shall design and implement programmes of action to eliminate as a priority the worst forms of child labour. Many countries have now established National Action Plans that provide a framework for such efforts. However many other countries have yet to do so and countries that have established plans need to monitor and review their effectiveness. If the challenging target of eliminating the worst forms of child labour by 2016 is to be achieved, urgent action along these lines is required now!

The worldwide movement against child labour

Although governments must take the lead role in tackling child labour, the ILO standards stress the important role that employers and workers organizations should play in setting and implementing action programmes. Many civil society organizations are also closely involved in efforts to tackle child labour. Building the worldwide movement against child labour at global, national and local level remains a priority.

Join with us on June 12!

The World Day Against Child Labour promotes awareness and action to tackle child labour. Support for the World Day has been growing each year and in 2012 we look forward to a World Day that will again be widely supported.

We would like you and your organization to be part of the 2012 World Day. Join us and add your voice to the worldwide movement against child labour. For more information contact ipec@ilo.org.

1 The most recent estimates suggest 127 million boys and 88 million girls are involved in child labour with 74 million boys and 41 million girls in the worst forms.

2 National laws or regulations may permit the employment of 13-15 year olds in light work which is neither prejudicial to school attendance, nor harmful to a child’s health or development. The ages 12-14 can apply for light work in countries that specify a minimum age of 14.

3 The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

  Videos on child labour Ending Child Labour by 2016: the Continuing Challenge - 12 June 2012 12 June 2012 - (2m51)
There has been progress in the effort to eliminate the worst forms of child labour worldwide. As a result of international commitments and the ILO convention to eradicate the worst forms of child labour, tens of millions of children around the world are out of work and in school. But as the world gets closer to the deadline in 2016 for the eradication of child labour around the world, the pace of progress is slowing.In its 2010 Global Report on child labour, the ILO has said that the global number of child labourers had declined from 222 million to 215 million, or 3 per cent, over the period 2004 to 2008, representing a “slowing down of the global pace of reduction.” The report also expressed concern that the global economic crisis could “further brake” progress toward the goal of eliminating the worst forms of child labour by 2016. Progress was greatest among children aged 5-14, where the number of child labourers fell by 10 per cent. Child labour among girls decreased by 15 per cent. However, it increased among boys (by 8 million or 7 per cent). What’s more, child labour among young people aged 15 to 17 increased by 20 per cent, from 52 million to 62 million.
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No Rest for the Weary: Children in the Coal Mines

No Rest for the Weary: Children in the Coal Mines

For early twentieth-century Progressive reformers committed to social justice, widespread child labor—especially in coal mines, textile mills, and department stores—was particularly disturbing. And as with other Progressive crusades, the exposé was a favorite tool. Probably the most influential and certainly the most widely read of the Progressive-era exposés of child labor was John Spargo’s The Bitter Cry of the Children(1906). Spargo was a British granite cutter who became a union organizer and socialist and gained his formal education through extension courses at Oxford and Cambridge. In 1901, he emigrated to the United States where he became a leader of the conservative wing of the American Socialist Party. In the following excerpt, Spargo described work at the coal breaker, the area outside the mine where coal was sorted and graded, mostly by young children.

Work in the coal breakers is exceedingly hard and dangerous. Crouched over the chutes, the boys sit hour after hour, picking out the pieces of slate and other refuse from the coal as it rushes past to the washers. From the cramped position they have to assume, most of them become more or less deformed and bent-backed like old men. When a boy has been working for some time and begins to get round-shouldered, his fellows say that “He’s got his boy to carry round wherever he goes.”

The coal is hard, and accidents to the hands, such as cut, broken, or crushed fingers, are common among the boys. Sometimes there is a worse accident: a terrified shriek is heard, and a boy is mangled and torn in the machinery, or disappears in the chute to be picked out later smothered and dead. Clouds of dust fill the breakers and are inhaled by the boys, laying the foundations for asthma and miners' consumption.

I once stood in a breaker for half an hour and tried to do the work a twelve-year-old boy was doing day after day, for ten hours at a stretch, for sixty cents a day. The gloom of the breaker appalled me. Outside the sun shone brightly, the air was pellucid [clear], and the birds sang in chorus with the trees and the rivers. Within the breaker there was blackness, clouds of deadly dust enfolded everything, the harsh, grinding roar of the machinery and the ceaseless rushing of coal through the chutes filled the ears. I tried to pick out the pieces of slate from the hurrying stream of coal, often missing them; my hands were bruised and cut in a few minutes; I was covered from head to foot with coal dust, and for many hours afterwards I was expectorating some of the small particles of anthracite I had swallowed.

I could not do that work and live, but there were boys of ten and twelve years of age doing it for fifty and sixty cents a day. Some of them had never been inside of a school; few of them could read a child’s primer. True, some of them attended the night schools, but after working ten hours in the breaker the educational results from attending school were practically nil. “We goes fer a good time, an‘ we keeps de guys wot’s dere hoppin’ all de time,” said little Owen Jones, whose work I had been trying to do. . . .

As I stood in that breaker I thought of the reply of the small boy to Robert Owen. Visiting an English coal mine one day, Owen asked a twelve-year-old lad if he knew God. The boy stared vacantly at his questioner: “God?” he said, “God? No, I don’t. He must work in some other mine.” It was hard to realize amid the danger and din and blackness of that Pennsylvania breaker that such a thing as belief in a great All-good God existed.

From the breakers the boys graduate to the mine depths, where they become door tenders, switch boys, or mule drivers. Here, far below the surface, work is still more dangerous. At fourteen or fifteen the boys assume the same risks as the men, and are surrounded by the same perils. Nor is it in Pennsylvania only that these conditions exist. In the bituminous mines of West Virginia, boys of nine or ten are frequently employed. I met one little fellow ten years old in Mt. Carbon, W. Va., last year, who was employed as a “trap boy.” Think of what it means to be a trap boy at ten years of age. It means tosit alone in a dark mine passage hour after hour, with no human soul near; to see no living creature except the mules as they pass with their loads, or a rat or two seeking to share one’s meal; to stand in water or mud that covers the ankles, chilled to the marrow by the cold draughts that rush in when you open the trap door for the mules to pass through; to work for fourteen hours—waiting—opening and shutting a door—then waiting again for sixty cents; to reach the surface when all is wrapped in the mantle of night, and to fall to the earth exhausted and have to be carried away to the nearest “shack” to be revived before it is possible to walk to the farther shack called “home.”

Boys twelve years of age may be legally employed in the mines of West Virginia, by day or by night, and for as many hours as the employers care to make them toil or their bodies will stand the strain. Where the disregard of child life is such that this may be done openly and with legal sanction, it is easy to believe what miners have again and again told me—that there are hundreds of little boys of nine and ten years of age employed in the coal mines of this state.

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John Spargo & Child Labor in the Progressive Era Back Then

Progessive Era Vocabulary Words

 

                        Progressive Era Vocabulary Words

 

 

Marxism- the political, economic, and social doctrines.

 

Prohibit- Prevent from doing something.

 

Diplomacy- the art and practice of conducting.

 

Gradualists- the policy of approaching a desired end by gradual stages.

 

Protocol- an original draft, minute or record of a documentary.

 

Appalled- greatly dismay or horrify.

 

Revolutionary- engaged in or promoting political revolution.

 

Justice- a judge or magistrate of a supreme court.

 

Uncompromising- showing an unwilling to make concessions.

 

Examination- a detailed inspection.

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John Spargo & Child Labor in the Progressive Era Back Then

Progessive Era Essay

 

During the Progressive Era there was a need for child labor laws and there are still some issues today

 

During the Progressive Era there was a need for child labor laws and there are still issues today. John Spargo published a book called The Bitter Cry of the Children, which is about the problems women and children faced for working hardships in the progressive era. Many women and children worked for less pay and had to work in unsanitary conditions.

 

Child labor is less likely a problem today, but it is still an issue in a different way. The main problem today with child labor is how teenagers are considered to get a job at eighteen years old because you have to be a legal adult to work now. The problem with working under the age of eighteen in America is that the supervisors /managers have to keep track of you to make sure you don’t get hurt on the job or go over hours. In different counties, children can legally work at different ages because the laws are different around the world.

 

Children still work today but have to be a legal age of eighteen to work. Health conditions are safe but you can still get hurt on the job. Minimum wage can also be a problem but it depends on how much you get paid. In different countries children can work at a young age.

 

Teenagers in the United States work at legal age while back then children and women were working at young ages. Women and children were paid less and today we get paid a fair amount of money but men get paid more then women even if they work the same kind of job. Today we have health insurance to cover injuries while women and children worked in unsanitary conditions.

 

I think the progressive era was a hard time for women and children while men made more money then them because they made more money owning small businesses. In conclusion the progressive era was devastating problem but thanks to John Spargo he made a solution and act upon child labor laws. 

 


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John Spargo - Conservapedia

John Spargo - Conservapedia | John Spargo & Child Labor in the Progressive Era Back Then | Scoop.it

John Spargo (1876–1966), was a journalist and prominent Socialist in the Progressive Era. Spargo moved right and by 1917 became a leading anti-Communist

His The Bitter Cry of the Children (1906) was a classic Muckraking expose of harsh conditions of child labor in Maine. He started as socialist in Britain, but spent most of his life in the United States, After 1910 he moved steadily to the right of the American Socialist movement, advocating a gradualist and anti-revolutionary interpretation of Marxism.

By 1916 Spargo advocated American intervention in the World War, and was an early and penetrating critic of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917. Spargo composed the "Colby Note" of 1920 that formalized President Woodrow Wilson's anti-communist doctrine. In 1917-21 he led the Social Democratic League of America (SDL), along with William English Walling.

Spargo was liberal until he was shocked by Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and its recognition of the Soviet Union in 1933. He spoke out in support of the Dies Committee on Un-American Activities in the late 1930s as it exposed Communists and Fascists inside the U.S. Spargo energetically supported Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon, as well as Barry Goldwater in the 1964 elections.

Ruotsila (2006) sees Spargo's odyssey as a logical and linear progression in which he successfully preserved the core of his Social Gospel even as he became a Republican activist.

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US History

US History | John Spargo & Child Labor in the Progressive Era Back Then | Scoop.it

Reforming the New Industrial Order

 

Reforming the Workplace 
 

In 1900 the average laborerworked nearly 10 hours a day, six days a week, for about $1.50 a day. Women and children earned even less.

Female and child laborers. In the early 1910s almost half of the women who worked in such jobs as factory workers, store clerks, and laundresses earned less than $6 a week. The Commission on Industrial Relations reported in 1916 that this salary "means that every penny must be counted, every normal desire stifled, and each basic necessity of life barely satisfied."

Women often faced significant barriers when they tried to increase their income. For instance, pieceworkers could be penalized for working too fast. Rebecca August, a buttonhole maker in Chicago, recalled that she was paid 3.5 cents per buttonhole. When her supervisor realized how many buttonholes she was able to make—and thus how much money she could earn—he cut her pay. The supervisor said,"It was an outrage for a girl to make $25 a week." When August tried to organize a protest, her employer fired her.

The commission's report also attacked child labor practices. It declared, "The Nation is paying a heavy toll in ignorance, deformity of body or mind, and premature old age [among children]." In The Bitter Cry of the Children (1906), John Spargo charged the textile industries with the "enslavement of children." He reported that children were employed to do work that he "could not do . . . and live."

Spargo found that few child laborers had ever attended school or could read. Many mothers explained that they put their children to work in the mills because it was either that or their entire family would starve. During an investigation of a miners' strike in 1903, a nine-year-old child reported that he was being forced to pay money that his father, who had died in the mine, owed the company for rent.


Labor laws. Progressives and labor union activists campaigned for new laws that would prohibit or limit child labor and improve conditions for female workers. Reformer FlorenceKelley worked tirelessly for this cause. She helped persuade the Illinois legislature in 1893 to prohibit child labor and to limit the number of hours women could work.

Although most children worked in agriculture, children in the factories—more than 2 million by 1910—faced the worst conditions. Reformers heard stories of supervisors splashing cold water on children's faces to keep them awake and of girls working 16 or more hours a day in canning factories. Orphans also were sent to work in factories. "Capital has neither morals nor ideals," cried one critic.

In 1904 Kelley helped organize the National Child Labor Committee to persuade state legislatures to pass laws against employing young children. By 1912, child-labor laws had been passed in 39 states. Some states even limited older children's employment to 8 or 10 hours a day and barred them from working at night or in dangerous occupations. Other states required that children be able to read and write before they were sent to work.

Enforcement of such laws was lax, however. Claiming that their business success depended on cheap child labor, many employers simply refused to obey the laws and continued to hire child workers. George Creel was a journalist and the author of Children in Bondage (1913). He estimated that "at least two million children were being fed annually into the steel hoppers of the modern industrial machine . . . all mangled in mind, body, and soul."

Progressives also campaigned for laws to force factories to limit the hours employers demanded. In 1903 Florence Kelley helped lobby the Oregon legislature to pass a law limiting female laundry workers to 10-hour days. Earlier, Utah had enacted a law limiting workdays to eight hours in certain occupations.

Progressive reformers also fought for higher wages. Some 30 million men and 7.5 million women were employed in 1910, and about one third of them lived in poverty. That year Catholic Church official Monsignor John Ryan called for "the establishment by law of minimum rates of wages that will equal or approximate the normal standards of living for the different groups of workers." Two years later Massachusetts responded to progressive lobbying by passing the nation's first minimum-wage law. This law set base wages for women and children. Other states gradually followed suit. Not until 1938, however, did Congress pass a national minimum-wage law.

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Progressive Era documents

Progressive Era documents | John Spargo & Child Labor in the Progressive Era Back Then | Scoop.it

John Spargo, Excerpt from The Bitter Cry of the Children. (1906)

Children employed as varnishers in cheap furniture factories inhale poisonous fumes all day long and suffer from a variety of intestinal troubles in consequence. The gilding of picture frames produces a stiffening of the fingers. The children who are employed in the manufacture of wall papers and poisonous paints suffer from slow poisoning. The naptha fumes in the manufacture of rubber goods produce paralysis and premature decay.  Children employed in morocco leather works are often nauseated and fall easy victims to consumption. The little boys who make matches, and the little girls who pack them in boxes, suffer from phosphorous necrosis, or "phossy-jaw," a gangrene of the lower jaw due to phosphor poisoning.  Boys employed in the type foundries and stereotyping establishments are employed on the most dangerous part of the work, namely, rubbing the type and the plates, and lead poisoning is excessively prevalent among them as a result.  Little girls who work in the hosiery mills and carry heavy baskets from one floor to another, and their sisters who run machines by foot-power, suffer all through their life as a result of their employment. Girls who work in factories where caramels and other kinds of candies are made are constantly passing from the refrigerating department, where the temperature is perhaps 20 degrees Fahr., to other departments with temperatures as high as 80 or 90 degrees. As a result, they suffer from bronchial troubles.

These are only a few of the many occupations of children that are inherently unhealthful and should be prohibited entirely for children and all young persons under eighteen years of age. In a few instances it might be sufficient to fix the minimum age for employment at sixteen, if certain improvements in the conditions of employment were insisted upon.  Other dangers to health, such as the quick transition from the heat of the factory to the cold outside air, have already been noted. They are highly important causes of disease, though not inherent in the occupation itself in most cases.  A careful study of the child-labor problem from this largely neglected point of view would be most valuable.  When to the many dangers of health are added the dangers to life and limb from accidents, far more numerous among child workers than adults, the price we pay for the altogether unnecessary and uneconomic service of children would, in the Boer patriot's phrase, "stagger humanity," if it could be comprehended.

No combination of figures can give any idea of that price. Statistics cannot express the withering of child lips in the poisoned air of factories; the tired, strained look of child eyes that never dance to the glad music of souls tuned to Nature's symphonies; the binding to wheels of industry the little bodies and souls that should be free, as the stars are free to shine and the flowers are free to drink the evening dews. Statistics may be perfected to the extent of giving the number of child workers with accuracy, the number maimed by dangerous machines, and the number who die year by year, but they can never give the spritual loss, if  I may use that word in its secular, scientific sense. Who shall tally the deaths of childhood's hopes, ambitions, and dreams? How shall figures show the silent atrophy of potential genius, the brutalizing of potential love, the corruption of potential purity? In what arithmetical terms shall we state the loss of shame, and the development of that less than brute view of life, which enables us to watch with unconcern the toil of infants side by side with the idleness of men?

The moral ills resulting from child labor are numerous and far-reaching. When children become wage earners and are thrown into constant association with adult workers, they develop prematurely an adult consciousness and view of life. About the first consequence of their employment is that they cease almost at once to be children. They lose their respect for parental authority, in many cases, and become arrogant, wayward, and defiant. There is always a tendency in their homes to regard them as men and women as soon as they become wage-earners. Discipline is at once relaxed, at the very time when it is most necessary. When children who have just entered upon that most critical period of life, adolescence, are associated with adults in factories, are driven to their tasks with curses, and hear constantly the unrestrained conversation, often coarse and foul, of the adults, the psychological effect cannot be other than bad. The mothers and fathers who read this book need only know that children, little boys and girls, in mills and factories where men and women are employed, must frequently see women at work in whom the signs of a developing life within are evident, and hear them made the butt of the coarsest taunts and jests, to realize how great the moral peril to the adolescent boy or girl must be. 
 

 
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John Spargo : Biography

John Spargo : Biography | John Spargo & Child Labor in the Progressive Era Back Then | Scoop.it
Biography of John Spargo...

 

John Spargo, the son of Thomas Spargo (1850-1920) and Jane Hocking Spargo (1851-1900), was born in Longdowns, Cornwall, on 31st January, 1876. After leaving school he trained as a stonecutter.

In 1894 he enrolled on a course run by J.A. Hobson as part of the Oxford University Extension Program. The following year he moved to South Wales where he found work as a stonemason in Barry Docks.

Spargo became a socialist after reading the work of Henry Meyers Hyndman. He was especially impressed by England for All (1881), where he attempted to explain the ideas of Karl Marx. In 1896 Spargo formed a branch of Hyndman's Social Democratic Federation (SDF). Other members since its formation included Tom Mann, John Burns, Eleanor Marx, William Morris, George Lansbury, Edward Aveling, H. H. Champion, H. H. Champion, Guy Aldred and Ben Tillet.

Spargo was elected president of the Barry Trades and Labour Council and became a member of the National Executive Committee of the SDF. Markku Ruotsila, the author of John Spargo and American Socialism(2006) has argued: "It was an amazing, meteoric progression for an uneducated stonemason from Western Cornwall that took place in these few years of Spargo's education in Marxism... he was recognized as one of the most promising and energetic Marxist agitators in the country."

Although Henry Meyers Hyndman was a talented writer and public speaker, many members of the Social Democratic Federation questioned his leadership qualities. Hyndman was extremely authoritarian and tried to restrict internal debate about party policy. Several members including William Morris, Edward Aveling,Eleanor Marx John Burns and Tom Mann left the party. However, Spargo remained loyal to Hyndman.

On 27th February 1900, Hyndman, Spargo and the Social Democratic Federation met with the Independent Labour Party, the Fabian Society and trade union leaders at the Congregational Memorial Hall in Farringdon Street. After a debate the 129 delegates decided to pass the motion to establish "a distinct Labour group in Parliament, who shall have their own whips, and agree upon their policy, which must embrace a readiness to cooperate with any party which for the time being may be engaged in promoting legislation in the direct interests of labour." To make this possible the Conference established a Labour Representation Committee(LRC).

Soon afterwards Spargo was invited to go of a lecture tour of the United States. He took with him his new wife, fellow socialist, Prudence Edwards. The couple arrived in New York City in February 1901. Spargo saw the potential of the country and decided not to return to England. He became friends with Morris Hillquit. Spargo went to work for Hillquit but spent most of the time lecturing on socialism.

Later that year the Social Democratic Party (SDP) merged with Socialist Labor Party to form the Socialist Party of America. Spargo was one of its founding members. Leading figures in this party included Eugene Debs, Victor Berger, Ella Reeve Bloor, Emil Seidel, Daniel De Leon, Philip Randolph, Chandler Owen,William Z. Foster, Abraham Cahan, Sidney Hillman, Morris Hillquit, Walter Reuther, Bill Haywood, Margaret Sanger, Florence Kelley, Rose Pastor Stokes, Mary White Ovington, Helen Keller, Inez Milholland, Floyd Dell, William Du Bois, Hubert Harrison, Upton Sinclair, Agnes Smedley, Victor Berger, Robert Hunter,George Herron, Kate Richards O'Hare, Helen Keller, Claude McKay, Sinclair Lewis, Daniel Hoan, Frank Zeidler, Max Eastman, Bayard Rustin, James Larkin, William Walling and Jack London.

Spargo's first wife, Prudence, died of tuberculosis in March 1904. The following year he married Amelia Rose Bennetts, a British-born socialist who worked in a carpet mill. The couple had two children, a daughter named Mary and a son who died in childhood. According to John Patrick Diggins: "It was well known that on many of his trips Spargo cavorted with a number of attractive ladies, and he quickly built a reputation not just as an effective socialist organizer but as a womanizer of some note."

In September 1905, Spargo helped to establish the Intercollegiate Socialist Society. Other members included Jack London, Clarence Darrow, Florence Kelley, Anna Strunsky, Bertram D. Wolfe, Jay Lovestone,Upton Sinclair, Rose Pastor Stokes and J.G. Phelps Stokes. Its stated purpose was to "throw light on the world-wide movement of industrial democracy known as socialism."

In 1905 Spargo published the best-selling expose of slum life, The Bitter Cry of Children. This was followed by a book about child nutrition, Underfed School Children. In 1907 he published an account of his Christian Socialism, entitled, The Spiritual Significance of Modern Socialism. He was now considered one of the most important popularizers in the socialist movement. In 1910 Spargo published the first full-length biography ofKarl Marx. The book, Karl Marx: His Life and Work, according to Robert Asher, "depicted the founder of scientific socialism as sentimental, but above all a pragmatic tactician".

Over the next few years Spargo became a controversial figure in the Socialist Party of America. Although he argued in favour of women's suffrage and civil rights for African Americans, he called for the restriction of immigration. Spargo held that this policy would make socialism more appealing to trade union members. He also strongly attacked the Industrial Workers of the World for advocating a general strike, a move that he considered to be "inflammatory, inviting employer and state repression".

On the outbreak of the First World War most socialists in the United States were opposed to the conflict. They argued that the war had been caused by the imperialist competitive system and argued that the America should remain neutral. In an article in September 1915 Eugene Debs wrote: "I am not opposed to all war, nor am I opposed to fighting under all circumstances, and any declaration to the contrary would disqualify me as a revolutionist. When I say I am opposed to war I mean ruling class war, for the ruling class is the only class that makes war. It matters not to me whether this war be offensive or defensive, or what other lying excuse may be invented for it, I am opposed to it, and I would be shot for treason before I would enter such a war."

After the USA declared war on the Central Powers in 1917, Spargo argued for a pro-war policy. He was supported by William Walling and Upton Sinclair, but when he was defeated at a special conference of theSocialist Party of America, he resigned from the party.

Spargo now moved to the right and became a member of the Republican Party, supporting Calvin Coolidgein the election of 1924 Presidential Election and Herbert Hoover in the 1928 Presidential Election. Spargo was also a strong opponent of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. He lost interest in politics and devoted his time to the Bennington Museum in Vermont.

John Spargo died in 1966.

 

Primary Sources

^ Main Article ^

(1) John Spargo, The Bitter Cry of Children (1905)

Work in the coal breakers is exceedingly hard and dangerous. Crouched over the chutes, the boys sit hour after hour, picking out the pieces of slate and other refuse from the coal as it rushes past to the washers. From the cramped position they have to assume, most of them become more or less deformed and bent-backed like old men. When a boy has been working for some time and begins to get round-shouldered, his fellows say that "He's got his boy to carry around whenever he goes."

The coal is hard, and accidents to the hands, such as cut, broken, or crushed fingers, are common among the boys. Sometimes there is a worse accident: a terrified shriek is heard, and a boy is mangled and torn in the machinery, or disappears in the chute to be picked out later smothered and dead. Clouds of dust fill the breakers and are inhaled by the boys, laying the foundations for asthma and miners' consumption.

I once stood in a breaker for half an hour and tried to do the work a twelve-year-old boy was doing day after day, for ten hours at a stretch, for sixty cents a day. The gloom of the breaker appalled me. Outside the sun shone brightly, the air was pellucid, and the birds sang in chorus with the trees and the rivers. Within the breaker there was blackness, clouds of deadly dust enfolded everything, the harsh, grinding roar of the machinery and the ceaseless rushing of coal through the chutes filled the ears. I tried to pick out the pieces of slate from the hurrying stream of coal, often missing them; my hands were bruised and cut in a few minutes; I was covered from head to foot with coal dust, and for many hours afterwards I was expectorating some of the small particles of anthracite I had swallowed.

I could not do that work and live, but there were boys of ten and twelve years of age doing it for fifty and sixty cents a day. Some of them had never been inside of a school; few of them could read a child's primer. True, some of them attended the night schools, but after working ten hours in the breaker the educational results from attending school were practically nil. "We goes fer a good time, an' we keeps de guys wot's dere hoppin' all de time," said little Owen Jones, whose work I had been trying to do....

As I stood in that breaker I thought of the reply of the small boy to Robert Owen [British social reformer]. Visiting an English coal mine one day, Owen asked a twelve-year-old if he knew God. The boy stared vacantly at his questioner: "God?" he said, "God? No, I don't. He must work in some other mine." It was hard to realize amid the danger and din and blackness of that Pennsylvania breaker that such a thing as belief in a great All-good God existed.

From the breakers the boys graduate to the mine depths, where they become door tenders, switch boys, or mule drivers. Here, far below the surface, work is still more dangerous. At fourteen and fifteen the boys assume the same risks as the men, and are surrounded by the same perils. Nor is it in Pennsylvania only that these conditions exist. In the bituminous mines of West Virginia, boys of nine or ten are frequently employed. I met one little fellow ten years old in Mt. Carbon, W. Va., last year, who was employed as a "trap boy." Think of what it means to be a trap boy at ten years of age. It means to sit alone in a dark mine passage hour after hour, with no human soul near; to see no living creature except the mules as they pass with their loads, or a rat or two seeking to share one's meal; to stand in water or mud that covers the ankles, chilled to the marrow by the cold draughts that rush in when you open the trap door for the mules to pass through; to work for fourteen hours-waiting-opening and shutting a door-then waiting again-for sixty cents; to reach the surface when all is wrapped in the mantle of night, and to fall to the earth exhausted and have to be carried away to the nearest "shack" to be revived before it is possible to walk to the farther shack called "home." Boys twelve years of age may be legally employed in the mines of West Virginia, by day or by night, and for as many hours as the employers care to make them toil or their bodies will stand the strain. Where the disregard of child life is such that this may be done openly and with legal sanction, it is easy to believe what miners have again and again told me-that there are hundreds of little boys of nine and ten years of age employed in the coal mines of this state.

(2) John Spargo, The Bitter Cry of Children (1906)

The textile industries rank first in the enslavement of children. One evening, not long ago, I stood outside of a large flax mill in Paterson, New Jersey, while it disgorged its crowd of men, women, and children employees. All the afternoon, as I lingered in the tenement district near the mills, the comparative silence of the streets oppressed me. There were many babies and very small children, but the older children, whose boisterous play one expects in such streets, were wanting.

At six o'clock the whistles shrieked, and the streets were suddenly filled with people, many of them mere children. Of all the crowd of tired, pallid, and languid-looking children I could only get speech with one, a little girl who claimed thirteen years, though she was smaller than many a child of ten. Indeed, as I think of her now, I doubt whether she would have come up to the standard of normal physical development either in weight or stature for a child of ten. One learns, however, not to judge the ages of working children by their physical appearance, for they are usually behind other children in height, weight, and girth of chest, - often as much two or three years. If my little Paterson friend was thirteen, perhaps the nature of her employment will explain her puny, stunted body. She works in the "steaming room" of the flax mill. All day long, in a room filled with clouds of steam, she has to stand barefooted in pools of water twisting coils of wet hemp. When I saw her she was dripping wet though she said that she had worn a rubber apron all day. In the coldest evenings of winter little Marie, and hundreds of other little girls, must go out from the superheated steaming rooms into the bitter cold in just that condition. No wonder that such children are stunted and underdeveloped.

(3) John Spargo, Socialism and Motherhood (1914)

Socialism appeals to the mother with peculiar force. It is the Liberator. At all times and in all places the Socialist movement has waged war against every political, social and economic disability of woman and proclaimed the gospel of her emancipation. With unfaltering courage and constancy it has proclaimed its faith that until woman is set free so that she can stand erect and unbound, free to achieve her highest and noblest aims, free to love and choose maternal responsibilities with knowledge and power, the race-life can never attain its perfect blossoming, the Superman never be born.

Socialism appeals most strongly to the mother through its fundamental demand for the equalization of opportunity. Men do not see as vividly as women do, nor feel as keenly, the terrible injustice of unequal opportunity in childhood, or the limitless suffering and wrong arising from it. A man may assent heartily, without reservation, to the Socialist demand for an equal chance for every child born into the world, but only in rare instances will he comprehend the full significance of the demand as readily as a woman will, especially if she be a mother. A mother will understand that the demand for equality of opportunity as the birthright of every child voices the most revolutionary aspiration ever born of human hopes and nurtured by human hearts.

The claim for an equal chance for every child born into the world carries with it that most fundamental of claims, that every child has a right to be well-born into the world. And that ideal can never be realized until every mother-to-be is safeguarded by all the arts and resources of our civilization to the end that she may bring her baby into the world with joy-healthy of body, glad of heart, serene of soul, unafraid of the future, unterrified by want or the fear of it, secure in the consciousness that the child she bears is heir to all the riches and advantages of earth.

It is sometimes charged that the demand for equality of opportunity is a modification of the revolutionary aim and temper of true, uncompromising Socialism. Nothing could be farther from the truth! So long as the Socialist movement unequivocally stands for that principle, and directs all its policies toward its realization, it will be revolutionary, the incarnate voice of Social Revolution. As so often happens, its simple, inflexible justice gives to the demand a sweet reasonableness which induces many to assent to it lightly without any serious examination of all that it involves. The witchery of words lures men on and on until they find themselves far beyond their depths in the great ocean of thought. Simple as it may be to say, " I believe in an equal chance for every child born into the world," an intelligent understanding of all that the declaration implies would limit its acceptance to those who realize the necessity of a complete reconstruction of society.

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