Skip Nav

Britain's child slaves: New book says their misery helped forge Britain

MOST READ NEWS

❶Today's headlines Most Read Mom and baby are among five killed in 'biblical' Florence as looters begin to raid abandoned homes and

Navigation menu

Homestead Strike
Child Labor
COLLECTIONS

The paper reported on advancements made by women, cases of discrimination against women in employment, and improvements in divorce laws. It followed activities of the women's movement, including speeches, meeting announcements, convention proceedings and testimony before government bodies.

It reported on organizing efforts by women workers and the activities of other sections of the labor movement that were seen as potential allies. Foreign correspondents reported from England, continental Europe and India. Train contributed his views on a variety of topics, including Irish independence and currency reform.

His associate, David Melliss, the financial editor of the New York World , handled the paper's financial department. A typical issue carried one or two pages of advertisements. The newspaper strove for a lively tone. Its correspondents were asked not to sentimentalize but to " Give us facts and experience , in words, if you please, as hard as cannon-balls. When the New York World criticized the women's movement, Elizabeth Cady Stanton , an editor, responded, "The World innocently asks us the question, why, like the Englishwomen, we do not sit still in our conventions, and get "first class men" to do the speaking?

We might, with equal propriety, ask the World's editorial staff why they do not lay down their pens and get first class men to edit their journal? The Revolution' s correspondents were not expected to present a single point of view. On the contrary, the newspaper declared, "those who write for our columns are responsible only for what appears under their own names.

Hence if old Abolitionists and Slaveholders, Republicans and Democrats, Presbyterians and Universalists, Saints, Sinners and the Beecher family find themselves side by side in writing up the question of Woman Suffrage, they must pardon each other's differences on all other points". Its readers responded with a steady stream of commentary from a variety of viewpoints.

Sometimes those readers identified themselves fully, but many signed themselves with as little as a single initial, leaving their identities still unknown. The writers of the newspaper found inspiration in John Stuart Mill 's The Subjection of Women , which had been published in Following years of British reformers' criticism on the topic, Mill wrote that marriage was an institution of despotism and ushered the discussion into a more mainstream domain.

Stanton looked up to Mill and used his ideas as a guide for her own. By , Stanton was alone in writing the newspaper. She enthusiastically turned to the themes of sexuality and marriage, seizing the opportunity to use a local New York scandal as a caustic platform.

In writing about the trial, Stanton was determined to break through the "hypocrisy that prevented frank discussion of marriage by bringing the steamy facts of desire, jealousy, and extramarital sex uncomfortably close in a way that oblique discussions about coverture could not. After the verdict, Stanton appealed for change—namely, for divorce laws to be altered and improved.

The Revolution supported a number of causes that challenged tradition. It criticized the long and heavy dresses that women were expected to wear at all times and the practice of women promising to "obey" as part of marriage ceremonies. It reported cases of women attempting to vote in defiance of laws that prohibited them from doing so.

It referred to practices that society did not want to discuss openly, such as husbands beating and forcing themselves sexually on their wives. Voicing an opinion that was highly controversial at that time, it advocated divorce as a legitimate option for women in abusive marriages.

Rejecting the notion that each woman should be under the control of a man, it called for women to be in control of both their own bodies and their destinies. That was acceptable to Stanton, who believed that it was better for the women's movement to be attacked than to be ignored. During , the paper conducted an energetic campaign in support of Hester Vaughn , a domestic worker whose former employer had impregnated her.

Destitute and seriously ill, she gave birth alone in an unheated room where the baby died. Vaughn was accused of deliberately allowing the baby to die and sentenced to be executed. After publicizing the case in The Revolution , Stanton visited the governor to ask him to pardon Vaughn, which he eventually did. The Revolution applauded the growth of the National Labor Union NLU , which existed from to , hoping to join with it in a broad alliance that would create a new political party, one that would support women's suffrage as well as the demands of working people.

In May , The Revolution announced the formation of the Woman's Suffrage Association of America to serve as a coordinating committee for the local women's suffrage organizations that had developed around the country. Its officers included Stanton and Anthony, and it shared The Revolution' s office.

Stanton later said, " The Revolution , holding the ground of universal suffrage irrespective of color or sex, is specially the organ of the Woman's Suffrage Association of America.

Many social reformers were deeply dismayed at The Revolution's refusal to support the proposed Fifteenth Amendment, which would enfranchise black men, unless it was accompanied by another amendment that would also enfranchise women. Stanton, who came from a socially prominent family, opposed it in The Revolution with language that was sometimes elitist and racially condescending. Stanton wrote, "American women of wealth, education, virtue and refinement, if you do not wish the lower orders of Chinese, Africans, Germans and Irish, with their low ideas of womanhood to make laws for you and your daughters The deepening divide within the women's movement reached a breaking point with the acrimonious disputes at the American Equal Rights Association meeting in May , which led to the demise of that organization.

Two days after that meeting, the split began to be formalized when the two founders of The Revolution hosted a gathering at which the National Woman Suffrage Association was formed, led by the same two people, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B.

In January Stone launched a rival newspaper called the Woman's Journal. Despite conjecture at the time, there is little evidence that The Revolution suffered significantly from competition with the Woman's Journal. Few subscribers switched allegiance, many subscribed to both journals and subscriptions to The Revolution continued to increase. Train's promise of on-going support did not materialize.

He sailed for England the same day that The Revolution published its first issue and shortly afterwards was jailed for supporting Irish independence.

Personnel expenses were necessarily kept to a minimum. Pillsbury, a professional editor who had worked at other newspapers, was paid a small salary.

Attempts were made to bring Harriet Beecher Stowe author of Uncle Tom's Cabin and her sister Isabella Beecher Hooker onto the editorial staff, which would have broadened the paper's appeal.

Ten-year-old Joseph Arkley forgot to shut a trap door, allowing poisonous gas to seep into the tunnel. He died along with ten others in the resulting explosion. But coal mining was just one industry in which children worked during the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Industrial Revolution brought immense prosperity to the British Empire. Not only did Britannia rule the waves, she ruled the global marketplace, too, dominating trade in cotton, wool and other commodities, while her inventors devised ingenious machinery to push productivity ever higher. But, as a new book by Jane Humphries, a professor of economic history, shows, a terrible price was paid for this success by the labourers who serviced the machines, pushed the coal carts and turned the wheels that drove the Industrial Revolution.

Child chimney sweeps often had to crawl through holes only 18in wide - and cruel masters would light fires to make them climb faster. Many fell to their deaths. Many of these labourers were children. With the mechanisation of Britain, traditional cottage industries, which had employed many poor families, went out of business. Consequently, more and more poverty-striken workers were driven into the major cities and factories.

The competition for jobs meant that wages were low, and the only way a poor family could fend off starvation was for the children to work as well. These were the real David Copperfields and Oliver Twists. Beaten, exploited and abused, they never knew what it was to have a full belly or a good night's sleep. Their childhood was over before it had begun. Using the heartbreaking first-person testimony of these child labourers, Humphries demonstrates that the brutality and deprivation depicted by authors such as Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy was commonplace during the Industrial Revolution, and not just fictional exaggeration.

She also reveals that more children were working than previously thought - and at younger ages. As British productivity soared, more machines and factories were built, and so more children were recruited to work in them.

During the s, the average age of a child labourer officially was ten, but in reality some were as young as four. Many child scavengers lost limbs or hands, crushed in the machinery; some were even decapitated. Those who were maimed lost their jobs. In one mill near Cork there were six deaths and 60 mutilations in four years.

While the upper classes professed horror at the iniquities of the slave trade, British children were regularly shackled and starved in their own country. The silks and cottons the upper classes wore, the glass jugs and steel knives on their tables, the coal in their fireplaces, the food on their plates - almost all of it was produced by children working in pitiful conditions on their doorsteps.

But to many of the monied classes, the poor were invisible: If they spared a thought for them at all, it was nothing more than a shudder of revulsion at the filth and disease they carried. Living conditions were appalling. Families occupied rat and sewage-filled cellars, with 30 people crammed into a single room. Most children were malnourished and susceptible to disease, and life expectancy in such places fell to just 29 years in the s. In these wretched circumstances, an extra few pennies brought home by a child would pay for a small loaf of bread or fuel for the fire: A third of poor households were without a male breadwinner, either as a result of death or desertion.

In the broken Britain of the 19th century, children paid the price. Real life Oliver Twists: Child workers were often beaten, abused, hungry and tired. Their childhood was often over before it begun. One young boy, Thomas Sanderson, went out to work when his family was reduced to eating acorns they had foraged after his soldier father had been demobilised without a pension. Another, Robert Wattchorn, remembered giving his mother his first wages from the pit: In such deplorable conditions, with their parents grateful for the smallest contribution, most children were glad to help - however crippling the work.

Children were the ideal labourers: But while parents sent their children to work with heavy hearts, the workhouses - where orphaned and abandoned children were deposited - had no such scruples. A child sent out to work was one mouth fewer to feed, so they were regularly sold to masters as 'pauper apprentices'. In exchange for board and lodging, they would work without wages until adulthood. If they ran away, they would be caught, whipped and returned to their master.

It was also legal at this time to capture vagrant children and force them into apprenticeships: Children as young as five worked in gangs, digging turnips from frozen soil or spreading manure.

Many were so hungry that they resorted to eating rats. Orphaned Jonathan Saville was sold as a pauper apprentice to a master in a textile industry. Eventually, bent double and crippled, he was returned to the workhouse, no longer any use to the brute.

Robert Blincoe - on whom Dickens' Oliver Twist is thought to be based - was sold, aged six, as a 'climbing boy' to a chimney sweep in London. Forced to scale the narrow chimneys, only 18in wide, he would scrape his elbows and knees on the brickwork and choke on coal dust. It was common for the master sweep to light a fire under them to make them climb faster. Many climbing boys and girls fell to their deaths.

After several months, Blincoe was returned to the workhouse. Then, aged just seven, he was sent along with 80 other children to a cotton mill near Nottingham to work as a 'scavenger' - crawling under the machines to pick up bits of cotton, 14 hours a day, six days a week.

In return, he was given porridge slops and black bread. Weak with hunger, at night he crept out to steal food from the mill owner's pigs. Children involved in this process often suffered a horrible disease from breathing phosphorous. The substance ate at their jawbones, leading to brain damage and death. Unsurprisingly, factory accidents were an all-too-common occurrence.

This year-old boy lost his leg and arm in an industrial accident at a spring factory in Despite the fact that he spent two years at the factory, no one from the company stopped by to visit him after the accident and he received no compensation for his injuries. He was injured after he fell asleep during an eighteen hour shift and accidentally turned on the machine in front of him in the process.

Some factories were far less dangerous than others, and employers would sometimes let their workers hire a reader, like this man, to read books and newspapers to them while they worked. For many young factory workers, this was the closest thing they could get to an education and was considered to be quite a job perk.

While working from home is considered a luxury these days, in the s, most people who worked at home may as well have been in a sweatshop. On the upside, at least these workers were in a fairly safe environment. Hunched over a tiny table, Mrs. Gay and her children, aged 5, 7, 12 and 13, would work to set stones into inexpensive jewelry pieces.

The Gays were lucky in that their children could actually attend school. This family worked together to make artificial flowers. Even the five-year-old would work with the rest of the family.

Weeks would work with her children and grandchildren, ages , to string wooden buttons. The children in this family were able to go to school, but after school and on holidays, they would join in to help string the buttons. Even with all the extra hands, Mrs. This family was already training the youngest daughter, a two-year-old, to make flower wreaths with the rest of them.

They expected her to be able to work within the next year.

401 - Unauthorized: Access is denied due to invalid credentials.

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

In this article Matthew White explores the industrial revolution which changed the landscape and infrastructure of Britain forever.

Privacy FAQs

Jun 05,  · Industrial Revolution News. Find breaking news, commentary, and archival information about Industrial Revolution From The tribunedigital-chicagotribune Articles about Industrial Revolution.

About Our Ads

News › UK › Home News Revealed: Industrial Revolution was powered by child slaves Huge factory expansion would not have been possible without exploitation of the young. Name _____ Industrial Revolution Newspaper Project You are an investigative reporter working for a British or American newspaper in the 19th century that has decided to publish a special edition on the Industrial Revolution. You have been selected, with.

Cookie Info

Industrial revolution news, articles and information: Home About NaturalNews Contact Us Write for NaturalNews Media Info Advertise with Natural News Tweet. Next article in issue: NEWSPAPER PRINTING IN THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION. Authors. A. E. MUSSON. University of Manchester; 2 Tom O'Malley, HISTORY, HISTORIANS AND THE WRITING OF PRINT AND NEWSPAPER HISTORY IN THE UKc–, Media History, , 18, , CrossRef;.