Torturous work for young children

The 1800s by: Rachel Ryan

Young children are being forced to work long, tough hours for very little pay.

"A child with a factory job might work 12 to 18 hours a day, six days a week, to earn a dollar. Many children began working before the age of 7, tending machines in spinning mills or hauling heavy loads. The factories were often damp, dark, and dirty. The working children had no time to play or go to school, and little time to rest. They often became ill."


By 1810, around 2 million children were working 50 to 70 hour weeks. Most of the children came from very poor families. When parents could not support their children, they sometimes turned them over to a mill or factory owner.

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Follow Up

In the US, it took many years to outlaw child labor. However, the problem was eventually solved. By 1899, 28 states in the US had passed laws that regulated child labor. Finally, in 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act. This made the minimum age for work during school hours 16, 14 for certain jobs after school, and 18 for dangerous work.