Social History for Every Classroom


Social History for Every Classroom

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A Southern Cotton Mill Owner Justifies Child Labor

Daniel Augustus Tompkins was an owner and investor in numerous cotton mills in North Carolina. His beliefs reflected those of many mill owners, who argued in favor of child labor.

In the absence of schools, the discipline of the mill and its training down to twelve years of age is much better for children than idleness and no discipline or training. . . . It would be far better to have ample school facilities and compel all children to go to school ten months in the year, and give them the other two months for vacations and recreation. But in the absence of such facilities, the discipline and training of the mill is best for the children of working people.

Source | North Carolina Bureau of Labor and Printing, Fifteenth Annual Report . . . 1901, quoted in Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, et al. eds., Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World (University of North Carolina Press, 1987), 58.
Creator | Daniel Augustus Tompkins
Item Type | Government Document
Cite This document | Daniel Augustus Tompkins, “A Southern Cotton Mill Owner Justifies Child Labor,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed May 7, 2021,

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