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JAMA 100 Years Ago
February 8, 2012


JAMA. 2012;307(6):545. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.36


Are the children of the United States worth one-eighth as much as the bugs? Hon. Andrew J. Peters, a member of Congress from Massachusetts, asked this rather startling question at Louisville last Sunday at a mass-meeting on child labor. Mr. Peters showed that the Bureau of Animal Industry costs the country $1,654,750 a year, and that the Bureau of Plant Industry costs $2,051,686. The proposed children's bureau would cost $29,440 and would investigate child labor, infant mortality and other important phases of child conservation. It is being opposed, of course, by some manufacturers who want to employ babies in cotton-mills, coal-mines and other places admirably adapted for the growth of mind and body and the development of sturdy American men and women. In some quarters the investigation of child labor is regarded as an unwarranted invasion of personal liberty. Certainly! Public schools were so regarded in their early days. No doubt we shall soon have a National League for Juvenile Freedom, secretly financed by the coal and cotton barons, and demanding for the child the right to labor when and where it pleases. In the meantime, if Congress thinks the baby crop is worth as much or one-tenth as much as the fruit crop, a children's bureau should be established without delay.

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