Mother Jones and the Children's Crusade

The early 20th century was a time of great labor unrest across a spectrum of industries in the U.S. Workers toiled in harsh conditions for low pay and few to advocate for their welfare. One certain group of workers perhaps suffered the most: children. Before the institution of child labor laws, it was commonplace for the children of low-income families to be compelled to work in industrial settings towards increasing the family income, often putting in the same number of hours as adults. Child workers finally found their champion in 1903, when Mary Harris "Mother" Jones came to aid in a textile mill workers' strike in Philadelphia. What followed was one of Jones' most well-known acts, leading the children on a march from there to New York in an attempt to meet with President Theodore Roosevelt. Though the march was ultimately unsuccessful, the issue of child labor was brought to national attention. Subsequently, numerous attempts were made to legally end the practice, culminating in President Franklin Roosevelt signing the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, which dramatically curtailed the worst abuses of child labor in the United States.


See "Background" to begin.