Children in Colonial America (Children and Youth in America)
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The Suffragents Brooke Kroeger. Twelve Years a Slave Solomon Northup. Pioneer Girl Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Annotated Lincoln Abraham Lincoln. Civil Rights Movement Mitch Yamasaki. Other books in this series. Children in Colonial America Philip J. Table of contents Foreword by Philip J. Review quote Few books can be all things to all people, but this one is an exception. Blume A useful and largely impressive anthology on an under-studied topic. Divided into thematic subdivisions relating to Europeans and Native Americans, issues of family and community, and the process of becoming American, the 12 essays contributed mainly by history academics examine children's lives from the varied cultures found in Colonial North America and contain copious footnotes and a list of suggested further reading.
Such topics as parenting practices, health, education, gender roles, and rites of passage are touched on. The small selection of primary documents excerpts from letters, diaries, and autobiographies add depth to an already well-written and researched work whose real strength is its juxtaposition of children's lives across a variety of Colonial cultures. The collections unique strength lies in its great range of regions and peoples represented: from Indian children of Mexico to young Africans in Jamaica, from Separatist Pilgrims in the Netherlands and Plymouth to Catholic girls in Germany, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania.
Although ideal for the classroom, these essays offer much that will be of interest to seasoned scholars. Main,University of Colorado-Boulder Brings together a broad range of provocative essays on a diverse cast of children from within and without the British American colonies. About Philip J. Rating details.
As industry grew in the period following the Civil War, children, often as young as 10 years old but sometimes much younger, labored. They worked not only in industrial settings but also in retail stores, on the streets, on farms, and in home-based industries. This article discusses the use of child labor in the United States, concentrating on the period after the Civil War through the rise of the child labor reform movement. The golf links lie so near the mill That almost every day The laboring children can look out And see the men at play. The September edition of Cosmopolitan magazine recounts a story once told of an old Native American chieftain.
The chieftain was given a tour of the modern city of New York. On this excursion, he saw the soaring heights of the grand skyscrapers and the majesty of the Brooklyn Bridge. He observed the comfortable masses gathered in amusement at the circus and the poor huddled in tenements. Although the widespread presence of laboring children may have surprised the chieftain at the turn of the 20th century, this sight was common in the United States at the time.
From the Industrial Revolution through the s was a period in which children worked in a wide variety of occupations. Now, nearly years after the story of the chieftain was told, the overt presence of widespread child labor in New York or any other American city no longer exists. The move away from engaging children in economically productive labor occurred within the last years. When these groups separated into families, children continued to work by caring for livestock and crops. The medieval guild system introduced children to the trades.
The subsequent advance of capitalism created new social pressures. Similarly, in America, productive outlets were sought for children. Colonial laws modeled after British laws sought to prevent children from becoming a burden on society. As economic tensions increased between England and the American colonies, the desire for an independent manufacturing sector in America became more pronounced. By manufacturers employing women and children in this pursuit, the man of the household could still tend the farm at home. This practice helped fulfill the Jeffersonian ideal of the yeoman farmer.
In keeping with this ideal of child productivity, an advertisement in the Baltimore Federal Gazette sought children from the ages of 8 to 12 to work in a cotton mill. Although the economic value of work for children was emphasized, its perceived underlying benefit was also important in its growth in the 19th century. In annual reports, the CAS published letters that highlighted the productive capacity of the children. The parallel beliefs that labor benefited children by helping them avoid the sin of idleness and economically benefited society by helping it increase its productive capacity fueled the spread of the practice.
Women and children dominated pre-Civil War manufacturing; however, the low volume of manufacturing caused the number of children employed to remain at low levels.
Similarly, some of the productive capacity that had been met by the use of slaves was met by women and children in the years following emancipation. In many cases, former slave children were functionally reenslaved through apprentice agreements, which bound the child to the former slave master. The padrones often deceived Italian children and parents those residing in Italy into apprentice arrangements, purportedly for teaching the child how to play a musical instrument.
Once agreements were signed, the children were swept off to America where they were forced to become street performers with all of their earnings provided to the padrone. Children who failed to comply with the demands of their padrone master were frequently beaten. Although the situations involving former slaves and the Italian padrones were egregious, they were a small percentage of the overall number of working children. As child labor expanded through the end of the 19th century, these practices diminished. The census found that 1 out of every 8 children was employed.
Distinctions between children expected to work and those not expected to work made on the basis of family income became increasingly evident. Children from families at the lower end of the class spectrum were frequently employed, whereas the concern about idle youths did not appear to be one shared by the upper classes. By the turn of the 20th century, the labors that the children of the working class performed were varied. In rural areas, young boys, some reportedly under age 14, 47 toiled in mines, sometimes working their fingers literally to the bone, breaking up coal.
In many towns, mills and glass factories regularly employed girls and boys. Even youngsters who never left the house had employment options. Home-based businesses provided children a chance to labor by assembling flowers or other items.