Speech on Child Labor at the Wisconsin Capitol, January 29, 1925 (excerpts)


Jane Addams Pleads For Child Labor Law; Senate Body Favors It



Crowds filling the assembly chamber, balconies, platform and all the available standing room possible surged into the assembly chamber last night to hear Jane Addams of Hull House, Chicago, world-renowned social worker, who spoke on the value of the proposed child labor amendment to the national constitution.

"If we are going to keep up with the rest of the world we must have some way of standardizing child labor," she declared.

"Under the present system of allowing each state to legislate for itself on this matter too much unevenness exists. Factories operating in a state where child labor [is] not permitted complain of the disadvantage they are under as compared to those operating where child labor is permitted. There must be uniformity.

"The feeling that such an amendment would be an encroachment on states' rights seems to have been entirely engendered by clever propaganda on the part of the opposition. Industry and economic arrangements are always a nationwide problem."

Miss Addams explained that while this amendment would not in any way effect the farm children who, if they were working on the farms were doing so under the supervision and care of their parents, the farmers have been turned against the measure by propaganda sent out by industries. The aim of such an amendment is to protect all of the children in the country and, to protect [those] who may need it from doing the kind of work which will keep them from growing up into healthy useful citizens.

Anton Holly, Kewaunee, chairman of the committee on [agriculture] in the assembly, took issue with Miss Addams on her statement that the amendment would not affect children on the farm. His contention seemed to be that many of the children on the farms are also doing labor beyond their physical endurance and that the law should take care of them as well.

F. M. Wilcox, chairman of the industrial commission began the program with an explanation of the proposed amendment, giving its aims, purpose and possibilities. He also introduced John [D.] Jones, Wisconsin commissioner of agriculture who gave a short talk on the amendment from the point of view of the farmers.

The child labor amendment to the constitution of the United States which was unanimously recommended for ratification by the senate committee on agriculture, labor and industries at the close of an all afternoon [session] yesterday, will go before the state senate early next week for adoption or rejection.

A number of women including Miss Jane Addams of Hull House, Chicago, appeared before the committee urging ratification of the measure. Other women appearing were: Mrs. W. G. Bleyer, president of the Dane Country League of Women Voters; Mrs. William Kittle; Mrs. Flora Hopkins, representing the W.C.T.U.; Mrs. Margaret Patzer, Milwaukee; Mrs. Louis E. [Reber]; Mrs. Jacob Feldman, president of the Council of Jewish Women.