Control of Child Labor

May 26, 1937

Report Outline
New Effort for Federal Child Labor Ban
Extent and Character of Child Labor
Employment of Children in Agriculture
Regulation of Child Labor by States
Special Focus

New Effort for Federal Child Labor Ban

Prohibitions of Administration Wage-Hour Bill

Abolition of the evil of child labor was declared by President Roosevelt, in his message to Congress on May 24, to be a primary aim of new federal legislation to regulate labor conditions in interstate industry. Holding that “a self-supporting and self-respecting democracy can plead no justification for the existence of child labor,” the President urged that goods produced by the labor of children be considered “contraband,” and be barred from the channels of interstate commerce. “There should be no difficulty in ruling out the products of the labor of children from any fair market.”

The President quoted with approval from the dissenting opinion of Justice Holmes in Hammer v. Dagenhart in 1918. By a five-to-four division in that case, the Supreme Court invalidated the Child Labor Act of 1916, which prohibited interstate shipment of goods produced with the labor of children less than 14 years of age. “Although Mr. Justice Holmes spoke for a minority of the Supreme Court, he spoke for a majority of the American people,” the President said. “Surely the experience of the last 20 years has only served to reinforce the wisdom and Tightness of his views.”

Almost identical bills embodying the President's recommendations were offered in Congress, May 24, by Chairman Connery (D., Mass.) of the House Labor Committee and Chairman Black (D., Ala.) of the Senate Committee on Education and Labor. Under the child-labor provisions of the administration bills, employment of children under 16 in any occupation, and employment of children under 18 in hazardous occupations, would constitute an “unfair labor practice,” and the products of establishments employing such “oppressive child labor” would be barred from interstate commerce.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Child Labor
Aug. 16, 1996  Child Labor and Sweatshops
May 26, 1937  Control of Child Labor
Mar. 03, 1934  The Child Labor Amendment, 1924–1934
Jan. 29, 1925  Status of the Child Labor Amendment
Nov. 21, 1924  The Child Labor Amendment
Labor Standards and Practices