Puslapio vaizdai

tolerant open-minded sympathy. At the close of a volume of proceedings the following statement is made for this Congress:

"No one who has attended the sessions of this sectional conference could fail to realize that there is a growing and deepening interest on the part of Southern white men in the nine million negroes who live by our sides in the South.-The meeting was characterized by sanity, scientific investigation, a spirit of coöperation, and an intense desire for helpfulness to all. A great many of the leading universities in the South were represented by their professors or presidents, and it was evident from the very outset that the best thinkers of both races had come together with the determination to study, without prejudice, this greatest problem of the entire South." 1

Just as it was cotton that brought the negro to the South and enslaved him, so it is this plant now that chiefly employs and improves him as he labors with liberated hands. Constituting thirty per cent of Southern population at large, he makes up forty per cent of all persons engaged in Southern farming. In every State south of the Mason and Dixon line he forms a dwindling element of general population, but in all of these States except Louisiana he is an increasing factor in the farming population. Not only so, but a steady drift of negroes is proceeding from the cities to the country, and it is in cotton farming that the negro chiefly succeeds. Nearly one-fourth of all the black farmers in the South own the lands they cultivate-amounting in value to

1 Readers who may be interested in this, the most important of all movements for solution of the Southern race problem, may obtain information by addressing J. E. McCulloch, General Secretary, Southern Sociological Congress, Nashville, Tenn.

$500,000,000, for in less than fifty years the negro has acquired nearly 20,000,000 acres of land. The Russian serfs, after fifty years of freedom, have not made greater headway. They have not done so well, indeed, in their conquest of illiteracy."

Illiteracy is no doubt the heaviest incubus, except the race problem itself, loaded on the South by negro slavery. It is not confined to the negroes. The support of the system of slavery was so exacting on the time and energy and spirit of the masters as to retard the establishment of an adequate system of schools; pointedly illustrating the acute remark of a British economist, "We are apt to think of one as bond, and the other as free; but both are bond." The "white trash" of the South, neglected by the ante-bellum ruling classes and despised by the slave as "po' buckra," are only now beginning to escape from the shackles of ignorance. But the Southern States are showing an amazing interest in education, their public school systems probably proceeding at a more rapid rate of improvement in recent years than in any other part of the nation. Between 1900 and 1910 the percentage of illiteracy in the South as a whole fell from 23.3 per cent. to 15.6 per cent., while the census report calls attention to the decline in the proportion of illiterates among the negroes of the South, from nearly one-half down to onethird, as "particularly conspicuous." During the seven year period between 1907 and 1914, the number of high schools in South Carolina grew from ninety-five, with 235 teachers, to 175, with 560 teach

2 W. M. Hunley, The Economic Status of the Negro, in The Human Way: Nashville, 1913; p. 27.

8 For an interesting amplification of this principle, see Norman Angell: The Foundations of International Polity: London, 1914; page 13.

ers; and this is a fair representation of what is happening throughout the whole South.

There can be no doubt that the labor of children in the cotton mills, bad as it is, is nevertheless an influential agency in reducing the illiteracy of "poor whites." From personal observation covering an extended period in cotton mill towns of the South, as well as in the "backwoods," the present writer believes that the condition of youthful operatives in these mills makes on the whole more for their advancement than did the environment from which they have frequently removed. This is not to say that conditions are by any means ideal; far from it. But just as the hook-worm disease is disappearing by virtue of the substitution of measurable sanitation for none at all, so the schooling now provided by mill management for adolescent operatives is far better than backwoods illiteracy; while the welfare work carried on by such "soldiers of the common good" as D. E. Camak at Spartanburg and J. A. Baldwin at Charlotte, in cordial coöperation with the mill owners, sets an example to the country and the world.1

Mrs. J. Borden Harriman said, at the sixth annual meeting of the National Child Labor Committee: "Those familiar with the history of cotton manufacturing in New England tell us that the first impetus toward uplifting the social status of the working people of that section was given by the cotton factory. If such has been the case in New England, more especially has it been so in the South.-In every mill village of any importance in either North or South Carolina or Virginia I found some sort of

4 See the World's Work for July and August, 1914: New York.

welfare work for both elders and children. I cannot believe that anywhere is there a finer spirit or stronger wish to uplift the weaker classes than among some Southern mill owners." 5

Critics of child labor in Southern cotton mills should remember not only such facts as those above cited, but also certain differences in economic environment that invalidate New England conditions as a proper analogy for unqualified application to the South. New England manufacture, long established and therefore proportionately expert, has reached a stage of development in which the finer grades of goods are produced on a scale as yet unattained in most of the young mills in the South (see page 342). This not only means a higher wage scale in New England in return for the skilled labor necessary to the production of finer goods, but it means, conversely, that children may be employed in Southern mills at simple tasks for which no equivalent employment exists in New England. Crompton's "mule," for example, now evolved into highly complex machinery, is used almost exclusively for the spinning of the higher grades of yarn. As it is

5 Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science; Supplement: Philadelphia, March, 1910.-"Some of the finest and most generous sentiments against child labor was expressed to me by leaders in the South, and among mill-owners and managers themselves there are many examples of desire to promote the welfare of the cotton-mill child and his parent. I think the chance of a modern Dickens to exploit cotton-mill fiction is fading. The native Southern mill-owner, like the native Southern railway-owner before him, has developed brutality in less degree than some of his Northern prototypes. Some of the largest mill-owners whose names I heard again and again in the South are at heart staunch friends of strict child-labor legislation.-From what I learned, I think the evils of child-labor are likely soon to disappear, and with a minimum of friction and antagonism, if some of the Northern cotton capitalists who are becoming interested in the Southern mills keep their hands off."-F. M. Davenport, staff correspondence in the New York Outlook, Feb. 23, 1916; p. 428.

physically impossible for children to operate mules, no demand for child labor arises from their extensive use in New England. In the South, however, the "mule" is almost unknown; the indefinitely simpler "ring frames" being adequate to the production of the coarser cheap yarns, which children can easily spin on these frames.

Much of the Southern child labor, moreover, is light and intermittent. "Doffers," or boys who look after the bobbins, work from twenty to forty-five minutes in each hour, spending their spare time in one another's company within the mill, or even playing outside in the yard. The younger girls, who serve as thread-menders, often have long periods of rest, although compelled to watch carefully for possible breaks.


On the whole, Mr. Holland Thompson is right in asserting that the child labor of Southern cotton mills is far less detrimental than that of glass factories or coal mines, and preferable either to newsboy labor or even to that of a cash boy or cash girl in a busy department store, where ventilation is usually decidedly inferior to the air in a cotton mill.

As to the wage scale, it should be remembered, further, that the cost of living is lower in the South than in New England. But when all is said, it still remains true that the strain of long hours of confinement to the care of exacting and noisy machinery drains the precious vitality of Southern children, especially when account has been taken of the poorly chosen and badly cooked food with which untutored parents provide them. As Mrs. Borden Harriman herself said, no one of any humanity, especially no As cited, p. 228.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »