New Slaves

Factory work during the Industrial Revolution was an extremely torturous job that gave too little benefits for the workers. Although workers in general were treated poorly, it’s hard to fathom how children were able to endure working everyday in these conditions. In Yorkshire Slavery, Richard Oastler emphasizes the struggles of child laborers and the effect it had on their families. Oastler argues that as a child it is important to travel and learn different trades, but child labor completely disrupts this process. It is observed in a factory that a young boy had been beaten without mercy on his face, cheeks and back for only making a few mistakes ((Oastler, “Yorkshire Slavery”)) . Even slave owners in the West Indies during this time were disturbed to hear the practices forced upon these child laborers ((Oastler, “Yorkshire Slavery”)) . The parents of these children are also filled with guilt for having to put their children through this process. Parents are not able to interact with their children as they only see them in the morning and at night. These children are not able to develop any strong relationships when they are forced to work all the time ((Oastler, “Yorkshire Slavery”)) . Children are usually observed as beacons of energy and life but under these conditions they are seen as the opposite.

Child labor is still a major problem in the world today as seen in countries such as China, India and many other countries. Many of the items we buy today are produced by some form of child labor, yet we are more concerned about the cost rather than how it was made. We all acknowledge child labor is bad, but as consumers we do not necessarily use our wallets to stop this practice

Is it fair to tell China or any other country practicing child labor that they should not use this practice even though it was a strong contributor to making America an economic powerhouse?

Richard Oastler and Factory Labor

Author: Richard Oastler was an industrial reformer who was known as the “Factory King.” He conducted a campaign for shorter hours for factory workers, which helped lead to the creation of the Ten Hours Act of 1837. [1]

Context: His article was written during the the Industrial Revolution. The use of factory labor  was growing, which led to abuse of workers, especially for children.

Language: He wrote “Yorkshire Slavery” to educate the general public about the mistreatment of factory workers. He used simple and concise language so that everyone would be able to understand him.

Audience: General British population

Intent: He wants to educate people on the poor working conditions of factory workers, especially that of children. He wants people to realize just how long and cruel the hours are for the children.

Message: The use of child labor was becoming increasingly popular, which is something that he has become aware of. Also, he realizes how child labor causes stress in the family itself. He wants people to realize the mistreatment on working class people and wants something to be done about it.

Why? He writes this article because he sees the effect that the growing use of child labor in factories during the Industrial Revolution is having, and he wants people to become aware of it also in order for something to be done about it.

Oastler lived right in the midst of the Industrial Revolution. He saw first hand the effects industry had on people and wanted to reform practices to better the lives of people.

[1] “Richard Oastler.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 08 Feb. 2015.

What do you think Oastler would think of child labor today, both in developed countries with more strict child labor laws and less developed countries with less stringent laws?