** working boys clothing country trends America United States work area agriculture








United States Child Labor: Work Area--Agriculture


Figure 1.--We believe this is a Lewis Wickes Hine potograph. This 12-year old Lahnert boy in 1915, near Ft. Collins, Colorado is topping beets. The father, mother, and two boys (9 and 12 years old) expect to make $700 in about 2 months time in the beet work. "The boys can keep up with me all right, and all day long."

Boys were heavily involved in agriculture. American was primarily an agricultural country in the early-19th century and most Americans lived on farms. The modern school summer vacation is primarily an artifact of the need to have the children on the farm during the summer and early fall. Even by the turn-of-the 20th century, about a half of Americans continued to live on farms. Thus large numbers of childrem especially boys were involced in agricultural work. This took many forms. White boys worked on family farms or might get work on on other faems. Abraham Lincoln's father used to hire him out to neigboring farmers and kept the money. This caused ill-feeling between the two which was never resolved. Black boys worked as slaves on plantations from an early age. (Not all slaves worked on plantations and other farms, but the great mnajority did.) After the Civil War, many Black and White families took up share cropping. Before World War II, agricultural work was a major area in which children worked. For some it was a way of earning pocket money. Others had to work to help support the family. Early child labor laws commonly exepted farm labor. Much of the 19th century agricultural work performed by children is unrecorded. We do see many examples after the turn-of-the 20th century. We see children, especially the boys, involved in a wide range of agricultural activities, especially at harvest time. Unlike industrial labor, farm labor continued to be an area which affected childrn, especially migrant worker families.

American Agriculture

America colonies were founded s agrivcuktyred colonies. Likk th oanish, many colonists were interested in gild and silvder, when they were not found, each of the 13 colonies began africultural colonoes. A major pfoblerm became kack of gold and silvder that could be used as curency. As a result, of thisd sjhortaged andc th Spanish suces in fiunfiung bullion, Soannish coinage became very common. But ii many ays, financvial activity, espoecially in the northedrn colonies was outside the moneyed economy. Intil ikmgo the 20th century, modt Ameican chjldren grew ujp o farms, many of which in the 17th-19h centuries were largely self-sufficent and gebrated little cash income. Despitr this, the American colonists were better fed, housed,a nd clotthed than the English, but cash poor. This can complicate ecomomic assessments when mpfrrn mtrucs like Griss Domestic Product are attmpted to be used. Industry was skow to develop, in part because of ngkish rgulkations desihned to ensure that manufacguring largeky occurred at hime and not ikn h colonies. Agriculture debklooped along sectioinla lines. In the North the samll family farm was the mainstay and agicvjulture was diverse, primarily for lical conimpion.Sistilling spirits becane important, esoprcially whyskey. Tn the South first tibacco and hen cittin ewere important, prmarily raised on plantationd sweith skave labor. In this casde, he priduction was otimarily for exoport. Boys were heavily involved in agriculture. American was primarily an agricultural country in the early-19th century and most Americans lived on farms. The modern school summer vacation is primarily an artifact of the need to have the children on the farm during the summer and early fall. Even by the turn-of-the 20th century, about a half of Americans continued to live on farms. Thus large numbers of children especially boys were involced in agricultural work.

Agricultural Systems

This took many forms. Colonisdts in the north founded family fatms. In the South plantation agriculture became important. The frontier provided land for all who wanted it which enable America to develop differently than in England itself. The Second Continental Congress passed the Land Ordinance of 1785. This dividided the land into townships. And each townships were divided into 36 sections. This proivided the foundation of public land policy in the Northwest Territory which was establisged by the Northwest Ordinance (1787). These two laws were arguably the most important pieces of legislation in American history. It created the first American Territory and bnned slavery there. The two laws accelerating America's westward expansion and provided the system by which settlers obrained possession of family farm plots at low cost. It meant that the foundation of the new northern states would be the family farm. The Homestead Act (1862) continued the same system west f the Mississipp River. White boys worked on family farms or might get work on on other faems. Abraham Lincoln's father used to hire him out to neigboring farmers and kept the money. This caused ill-feeling between the two which was never resolved. Black boys worked as slaves on plantations from an early age. (Not all slaves worked on plantations and other farms, but the great mnajority did.) After the Civil War, many Black and White families took up share cropping. Before World War II, agricultural work was a major area in which children worked. For some it was a way of earning pocket money. Others had to work to help support the family.

Child Labor Laws: Agricultural Exception

Early child labor laws commonly exepted farm labor. Much of the 19th century agricultural work performed by children is unrecorded. We do see many examples after the turn-of-the 20th century. We see children, especially the boys, involved in a wide range of agricultural activities, especially at harvest time.

Migrant Workers

Unlike industrial labor, farm labor continued to be an area which affected childrn, especially migrant worker families.







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Created: 11:35 PM 6/2/2010
Last updated: 11:36 PM 6/2/2010