Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The Wageworker. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1904-???? | View Entire Issue (April 7, 1905)
" The Slaughter of
Next to Massachusetts,' South Caro
lina manufactures more cotton cloth
than any other state in the union. The
cotton mills of South Carolina are
mostly owned and operated by New
England capital. '
In many instances the machinery of
the cotton mills has been moved en
tire from Massachusetts to South Caro
lina. The move was made, for the os
tensible purpose of being near the raw
product; but the actual reason is that
in South Carolina there is uo law
regulating child labor. Heartless cu
pidity has joined hands with brutal ig
norance, and the result Is child labor
of so terrible a type that African slav
ery was a paradise compared with it.
Many of the black slaves lived to a
good old age, and they got a hearty
enjoyment from life.
The infant factory slaves of South
Carolina can never develop into men
and women. There are no mortality
statistics; the mill owners bafflo all
attempts of the outside public to get
at the facts, but my opinion is that
In many mills death sets the little pris
oner free Inside of four years. Beyond
that he can not hope to live, and this
opinion is derived from careful obser
vation and Interviews with several
skilled and experienced physicians
who practice in the vicinity of the
Boys and girls from the age of six
years and upwards are employed. They
usually work from six o'clock in the
morning until seven at night. For four
months of the year they go to work
before daylight and they work until
At noon I saw them squat on the
floor and devoir their food, which con
sisted mostly of cornbread and bacon.
These weazened pigmies munched in
silence, and then toppled over in sleep
on the floor in all the abandon of baby
hood. Very few wore shoes and stock
ings; dozens of little girls of, say, sev
en years of age wore only one gar
ment, a linsey-woolsey dress. When
it camo time to go to work the fore
man marched through the , groups
shaking the sleepers, shouting in their
ears, lifting them to their feet, and In
a few instances kicking the delin
quents into wakefulness.
The long afternoon had begun from
a Quarter to one until seven o'clock
they worked without respite or rest.
These toddlers, I saw, for the most
part did but one thing they watched
the flying spindles on a frame 20 feet
long, and tied the broken threads.
They could not sit at their tasks;
back and forward they paced, watch
ing, with Inanimate, dull look, the fly
ing spindles. The roar of the ma
chinery drowned every other sound.
Back and forth paced the baby toilers
n thelraariieet.. und mended the
broken threads. Two7reic5rfour
threads would break before they could
patrol the 20 feet the threads were
The noise and. the constant looking
at the flying wheels reduce nervous
sensation in a few months to the
minimum. The child does not think;
ho ceases to suffer memory is as
dead as hope. No more does he long
for the green fields, the running
streams, the freedom of the woods,
and the companionship of-all the wild,
free things that run, climb, fly, swim
He does his work like an automa
ton; he is a part of the roaring ma
chinery; memory is seared, physical
vitality is at such low ebb that he
ceases to suffer. Nature puts a short
limit on torture by sending insensi
bility. If you suffer, thank Cod! it
is a sure sign you are alive.
At a certain nisht school, where
several good women were putting
forth efforts to mitigate the condition
of these baby slaves, one of the teach
ers told me that they did not try to
teach. the children to read they sim
ply put forth an effort to arouse the
spirit through pictures and telling
stories. In this school I saw the sad
spectacle of half the class, of a dozen
or more, sunk into sleep that more re
sembled a stupor. The teacher was a
fine, competent woman,'' but worn-out
nature was too much for her to teach,
you must make your appeal to life.
' The parents of the children sent
them there so they could be taught to
read, but I was told by one who knew
that no child of, say, seven or eight
years of age who had worked in the
mill a year could ever learn to read.
He is defective from that time on. A
year in the mills' and he loses the
capacity to play; and the child that
can not play can not learn.
We learn in moments of joy; play Is
education; pleasurable animation is
necessary to growth; and when you
have robbed the child of its play spell,
you huve robbed it of its life.
The reason that thought flags and
stupor takes possession of the child
who works at one task for 11 hours a
day, is through the fact that he does
not express himself. We grow through
expression, and expression, which Is
exercise, is necessary to life. The child
In tho mill never talks to any one
even If the rules did not forbid it, the
roar of the machinery would make it
Impossible. All orders are carried out
In pantomime, emphasized by pokes,
punches, pinches, shakes and kicks.
This wee slave loses all relationship
with his fellows and the world about
I thought to lift one of the little
tollers to ascertain his weight.
Straightway through his 35 pounds of
skin and bones there ran a tremor of
fear, and he struggled forward to tie
a broken thread. I attracted his at
tention by a touch, and offered him a
silver dime. He looked at me dumbly,
trom a face that might have belonged
the Innocents "
to a man of 60, so furrowed, tightly
drawn, and full of pain it was. He did
not reach for the money he did not
know what it was. I tried to stroke
his head and caress his cheek. My
smile of friendship meant nothing to
him he shrank from my touch as
though he expected punishment. A
caress was unknown to this child, sym
pathy had never been his portion, and
the love of a mother, who only a short
time before held him in her arms, had
all been forgotten in the whir of
wheels and the awful silence of a din
that knows no respite.
mere were dozens of just such chil
dren in this particular mill. A physi
cian who was with me said that they
would all bo dead probably in two
years, end their places filled with oth
ers there were .plenty more. Pneu
monia carries off most of them. Their
systems are ripe for disease, and when
it comes there is no rebound no re
sponse. Medicine simply does not act
nature is whipped, beaten, discour
aged, and tly child sinks into a stupor
and dies. '
There are now only five states, I
believe, that have no law restricting
the employment of children. Child la
bor exists in Georgia and Alabama to
nn extent nearly as grievous as it does
in South Carolina, but in each of these
states there are bands of brave men
and excellent women who are waging
war to stop the slaughter of the inno
cents; and these men and women have
so forced the issue that the mill own
ers are giving way before them and
offering compromise. But South Caro
lina lags behind and the brave work
ers for liberty there seem a hope
For these things let Massachusetts
South Carolina weaves cotton that
Massachusetts may wear silk.
South Carolina can not abolish child
labor because the mill owners, who
live in New England, oppose it. They
have invested their millions in South
Carolina, with the tacit understand
ing with legislature and governor that
there shall be no state inspection of
mills nor interference In any way with
their management of employes. Eacli
succeeding election the candidates for
the legislature secretly make prom
ises that they will not pass a law
forbidding child labor. They can not
hope for election otherwise the capi
talists combine with the "crackers,"
and any man who favors the restric
tion of child labor is marked.
The cracker, the capitalist, and the
preacher live on child labor, and tho
person who lifts his voice in behikif of
the children is denounceA"ur''"a"' sickly
sentimentalist endejjvring to discour
age the best Interests of the state.
The cracker-does not reason quite thus
far with him it is a question of
"rights, sah," and he is the head of
his family and you must not meddle
his honor is at stake.
So at every election he jealously
guards his rights he has nothing else
to do he has lost everything else but
"honor." If women could vote in South
Carolina they would wipe child labor
out with a sweep; but, alas! a woman
in South Carolina does not own even
her own body. South Carolina is the
only state in the union that has no di
vorce law. In South Carolina the gra
cious, gentle woman married to a
rogue has him for life and he has her.
The state objects to their getting
apart. The fetters forged In South
Carolina never break (in South Caro
lina), and the key is lost.
I say these things with no prejudice
against the people of South Carolina
as a whole, for some of the bravest,
gentlest, sanest, most loyal, and most
hospitable friends I have in the world
live there. I make the mention merely
as a matter of fact to show that the
majority of the people in South Caro
lina have a long way to travel and are
good raw stock for missionary work.
I learned from a reliable source that
a cotton mill having a pay roll of ?,
000 a week in New England can be
run in the south for $4,000 a week.
This means a saving of just $100,000 a
year, and the mill having a capital of
$1,000,000 thus gets a clear gain of 10
per. cent per annum.
One mill at Columbia. S. C, has a
capital of $2,000,000. In half a dozen
other cities there are mills with a cap
ital of a million or more. These mills
all have "company department stores,"
where the employes trade. A certain
credit is given, and the employe who
has a dollar coming to him in cold
cash is very, very rare. The cashier
of one. mill told me that 19 families
out of 20 never see any cash, and prob
ably never will. The account is kept
with the head of the house. Against
him are charged house rent, insurance,
fuel three things the man never
thought of. Next, the orders drawn
.on the company must be met. Then
come groceries, clothing, and gew
gaws that the young women are
tempted Into buying, providing the ac
count is not too much overdrawn.
Sometimes it happens that the account
is so much overdrawn by the last of
the month that the storekeeper will
dole out only corn-meal and bacon
just these two things to prevent star
vation and keep the family at work.
The genial cashier who made this
explanation to me, did it to reveal the
pitiable ignorance of the "poor white"
the cracker can not figure his ac
count it is all a matter of faith with
him. "To manage a cracker you have
to keep him in debt to you," explained
my friend, "then you can control his
Thp Ingenuity displayed in securing
the aborers reveals the "Instincts of
Connecticut," to use the phrase of
The Question of
There are two questions, really, instead of one, connected with
this matter of spring clothing. The man with money to burn need
not consider either of them. But the man who has only a few dol
lars and must make them go as far as possible, asks himself these
How Much Will It Cost?
Will the Quality be Right?
We are prepared to answer both questions to your satisfaction
if you buy your spring clothing of us. First, compared with the re
turns you will get the cost will be comparatively small. Second, the
quality will be right, because wc handle only the right kind of goods.
We claim and want an opportunity to prove that price and qual
ity considered this is the best clothing store in the city or the west,
for that matter.
Our line of Spring Clothing is now complete, and a better line
was never offered in Lincoln. Wc bought to satisfy all tastes in cut,
color and fabric. We bought to satisfy all purses. And when we
speak of "clothing" we mean to include everything that man or boy
wcars from shoes to hat, from collar to sox.
Ralph Waldo Emerson. There are men
called "employing agents," who drive
through the country and make the ac
quaintance of the poor whites the
"white trash." This expression, by
the way, was launched by tjhe negroes
and then taken up by the whites. No
white man will acknowledge himself
as 'trash," but he applies the epithet
to others who are supposed to be still
more trashy than himself.
No matter how poor these whites
are, they are always well stuffed with
pride; they are as proud as the rich,
and they would conduct themselves
just like the F. F. V.'s if they had the
money. They are F. F. V.'s slightly
run down at the heel.
They apologize for their poverty and
lay it all to the war. Ail consider
themselves very much above the ne
groes they will not work with the
The employing agent drops in on
this poor white family and there is
much friendly conversation, for time
is no object to the cracker. Gradu
ally the scheme Is unfolded. There is
a nice man who owns a mill he will
not employ negroes they are not suf
ficiently intelligent. The visitor can
get work for all the women and the
children of the household with this
nice man. There will be no work for
the man of the house, but he can get
odd jobs in the town. This suits the
cracker he does not want to work.
A house will be supplied gratis for
them to live in. A photograph of the
house is shown; it is a veritable pal
ace compared with the place they now
call home. The visitor goes away,
promising to call again the next week;
He comes back and reports that he
has seen his friend, the house is ready,
work is waiting, wages in cash will be
paid every Saturday night.
Why, this poor white family never
saw any real cash in all their lives!
A printed agreement is produced
If the cracker hasn't quite energy
enough to move, the employing agent
packs up his scanty effects and ad
vances money for car fare. The fam
ily land in the mill town, are quar
tered in one of the company's cottages,
and go to work the mother and all
the children over five. The head of
the house stays at home to do the
housework, and, being a man, of
course does not do it. He goes to the
grocery or some other loafing place
where there are other men in the
same happy condition as himself. Idle
men in the south, as elsewhere, do not
feel very well they need a little stim
ulant, and take it. The cracker dis
covers he can get whiskey and pay
for it with an order on the company.
He is very happy, and, needless to
say, is quite opposed to any fanatic
who would like to interfere in his fam
ily relations. He is not aware of it,
but lie has sold his wife and children
into a five years' slavery. The com
pany threatens and has the right to
discharge them all if one quits. Even
the mother is not free.
But the cracker knows his rights-
he is the head of his family;. the labor
of his children is his until the girls
are IS and the boys 21. He knows
these things, and he starts them off to
their work while it is yet night.
And at the mill the overseers look
after them. These overseers are
northern men, sent down by the cap
italists. In war time the best slave
drivers were northerners -they have
the true spirit and get the work done.
If necessary they do not hesitate to
"reprove" their charges.
But the cracker wants to bo kind;
he wants to accumulate enough money
to buy a home in the country it will
take only a few years! The overseers
do not wish to be brutal, but they have
to report to the superintendents there
must be so much cloth made every
day. The superintendent is not a bad
man, but he has to make a daily re
port to the president of the company,
and the president has to report to the
The stockholders live in Boston, and
all they want is their dividends. When
they go south they go to Pinehurst,
Asheville, or St. Augustine. Details
of the mills are not pleasant; they
simply leave matters to the good men
who operate the mills it is against
their policy to dictate.
Capital is king, not cotton. But capi
tal is blind and deaf to all that is not
to its interest; it will not act while
child labor means 10 per cent divi
dends on industrial stocks.
Instead of abolishing child labor,
capital gives a lot, near the mill prop
erty, to any preacher who will build
a church, and another lot for a parson
age, and then agrees to double the
amount any denomination will raise
for a church edifice.
Within a quarter of a mile from one
cotton mill, at Columbia, S. C, I
counted seven churches, completed or
in process of erection.
And that is the way the mill owners
capture the clergy. In talking with
various preachers on the question - of
child labor they all, I found, had ar
guments to excuse it, blissfully un
aware that the ,entire question had
been fought out in the world's assize,
and that civilization fifty years ago
had placed her stamp of disapproval
on the matter. One preacher put it in
this way, with a gracious, patronizing
smile (I quote his exact words): "Oh,
of course, it is pretty bad but then,
dear brother, you know the children
are better off in the mill than running
It is assumed that there are only two
occupations for children, working in
the mill and running the streets. And
then this man of God confessed to me
without shame. that many of the men
whose .whole families worked in the
mills subscribed one-tenth of their In
come to the support of "the gospel,"
and gave him an order on the mill
company for the amount; and this
amount was withheld from wages and
paid to him regularly by- the cashier
of the company.
The majority of tlie clergy of South
Carolina have always stood for slav
ery. ' The clergy never move faster
i . .-.'
than the people, usually lagging a lit
tle behind. To get ahead of the pews
is to separate from them, so the average-clergyman
will not champion an
unpopular cause. The clergyman who
speaks his mind for freedom has to
get out of the church. Luther, Sav
onarola, Emerson, Beecher, McGlynn,
Professor Swing, Dr. Thomas, and all
that band of preachers who have
stood out and voiced the cause of
freedom have been regarded by their
denominations as renegades. Exile
and ostracism have been the lot of
freedom's champions; and their os
tracism and social disgrace have been
the work of the respectable element
in the church.
And the reason the church has al
ways sided with slavery is because she
has thrived on the profits of slavery.
We have heard much about the dan
ger that follows an alliance between
church and state; but what think you
of a partnership between grasping
greed and religion the professed re
ligion of the suffering, bleeding Christ,
the Christ who had not where to lay
The orthodox Protestant preacher is
an institution in the south. You see
his well-buttered face on every train,
at every station he attends every
gathering nothing can be done with
out him. He preaches "the blood of
Jesus," and nothing else. His gospel
is the promise of a perfect paradise
hereafter for all who believe as he
does, and hell and damnation for all
who don't. There has not been a pat
entable improvement - made on his
devil in two hundred years.
The south is priest-ridden to an ex
tent that should make Italy and Spain
jealous. The preacher is a power. One
of them explained to me that most of
the heads of the families that worked
in the mills were "Christian people."
He seemed to think that Jesus said,
"Suffer little children to come unto me
and forbid them not, for of such is the
kingdom 'of Cotton."
If the child workers of South Caro
lina could be marshaled by bugle call,
headed with fife and drum, and
marched through Commonwealth ave
nue, out past that statue of William
Lloyd Garrison, erected by the sons of
the men who dragged him through the
streets at a rope's end, the sight
would appall the heart and drive con
viction home. Imagine an army of 20,
000 pigmy bondsmen, half naked, half
starved, yellow, weazened, deformed
in' body, with drawn faces that show
spirits too dead to weep, too hopeless
to laugh, too pained to feel! Would
not aristocratic Boston lock her doors,
bar the shutters, and turn in shame
from such a sight?
I know the sweat shops of Hester
street, New York; I am familiar with
the vice, depravity, and degradation of
the Whitechapel district; I have vis
ited the Ghetto of Venice; I know the
lot of the coal miners' of Pennsylvania,
and I know somewhat of Siberian "at
rocities; but for misery, woe, and
anything to equal the cotton mill Slav
hopeless suffering, I have never seen
ery of South Carolina this In my own
Union Made Goods A SPECIALTY
Good shoes from, $1.50 up. Caps from
75c to $3.00. Underclothing, Shirts, Collars,
of each and price and quality bound to sitit.
Overalls, Jackets, etc., Union Made and of the best material.
We want your trade and try to secure it by deserving it.
This is ''The Different Store."
America, the land of the free and the
home of the brave!
For the adult who accepts the life of
the. mills I have not a word to say it
is his own business. My plea is in de
fense of the innocent; I voice the cry
of the child whose sob is drowned in
the thunder of whirring wheels.
The iniquity of this new slavery in
the new south has grown up out of
conditions for which no one man or
class of men, it seems, is amenable.
The- interests of the cracker, the
preacher, the overseer, the superin
tendent, the president, and the stock
holders are so involved that they can
not see the truth their feet are en
snared and they sink into the quick
sands of hypocrisy, deceiving them
selves with specious reasons. They
must be educated and the people must
So it remains fcr that small, yet val
iant, band of men and women in the
south, who are fighting this iniquity, to
hold fast and not leave off in their
work until the little captives are made
free. We reach friendly nan as across
the miles, and out of the silence we
send them blessings and bid them be
strong and of good cheer. Seemingly
they fight alone, but they are not
alone, for the great, throbbing, melt
ing, mother-heart of the world has but
to know of their existence to be one
with them. Elbert Hubbard in The
O GENERAL MENTION. O
For union made shoes go to Rogers
Jess Mickel had business in Cedar
Rapids this week.
Mrs. Will Bustard is enjoying a visit
with relatives and friends in Wahoo.
Central Labor Union meeting next
Tuesday night. If you are a delegate
do your duty.
Mrs. Jesse E. Mickel returned the
first of the week from a visit to the
Woman's Label League meeting next
Monday night. . If you are a member,
be there on time.
Rogers & Perkins have the largest
line of union made shoes at popular
prices in the entire city.
Mrs, G. W. Armstead has returned to
her home in North Bend, Neb., after
a two weeks' visit with her daughter,
Mrs. W. M. Maupin.
"Capital Auxiliary's April social at
Bohanon's hall, Wednesday evening,
April 19. Now don't say you ."never
heard a word about it."
. Mrs. Frank D. Eager, who was in
jured in a runaway accident one day
hist week, has completely recovered.
Mrs. Eager had a very narrow escape
from serious injury. .
The local Teamsters' Union reports
that it is progressing finely with the
work of getting signatures to Its scale.
Ask to see the card of the man who
hauls your coal, ice - or household
There has been so much "political
25 c to 75c. Hats from
Cuffs, Hose big lines
doin's" in the last week that there was
little news in the local labor field, and
what little there was the editor didn't
have time to get.. Next week, things
(will be different. i
Porto Rico has now over 100 crafts
union, all affiliated with the Ameri
can Federation pf Labor.
The Inter uatir,;.al Brotherhood of
Carpenters has renewed its lease on
the international offices at Indianap
olis. "Big Six" Typographical Union of
New York held its annual ball re
cently, and only 3,000 people were
The factory inspectors of Pittsburg
have started a crusade against sweat
shops and child labor. More power to
C. C. Keister, a union painter of
Oakland, Calif., has just fallen heir to
$80,000. If he is wise he will not begin
another branch of painting. .
The Potters' Herald says the clean
est and most honorable piece of card
board is a paid-up union card. The
Potters' Herald says good things in a
Philadelphia electrical workers are
negotiating with the Electrical Con
tractors' association for a new agree
ment for the coming year. The out
look' is favorable.
The Washington legislature was
asked by the Parryites to enact a law
prohibiting the boycot, but the legis
lature refused. Then the Parryites
asked for the repeal of the 8-nour law'
and met with another refusal.'
Dave Parry's organ says that the
Typographical Journal in every issue
abuses and villifies the Los Angeles
Times. This will be cheerful news to
Frank Kennedy. The only trouble
wtih Parry is that he can not tell the
truth about union workmen.
. The business of the Philadelphia
Trades Union News has grown so big
that the managers had to move re
cently into larger quarters. The Wage
worker has its eye on a three-story
building covering a quarter of a block,
and is waiting for the business to grow
up to it. :' -
Lincoln painters and paperhangers
have coined a new one. Instead of a
"strike" it will hereafter be known as
a "temporary cessation of. labor pend
ing settlement of a slight misunder
standing appertaining to the hours of
manual toil and commensurate com
pensation therefore." That sounds aw
Monday, March 27, was George M.
Wathan's 'steenth birthday, and Mrs.
Wathan planned and executed a com
plete1 surprise on him in honor of the
occasion. A number of friends came
in while Wathan was sitting around
in his stocking feet and a pipe in his
mouth, and they took complete pos
session. The evening was pleasantly
spent in various games and social con-,
versation, and at a seasonable hour
Mrs. Wathan served refreshments. Mr.
Wathan says he hopes to have more
of 'em, and the guests present were -united
in expressing a desire to help '
him celebrate 'em as they come "for
about the next hundred years. '
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