The use of children and women in the factories and workplace negatively affected England socially – these negative aspects include the working conditions as a whole which are broken down into the injuries in the working place, the lack of safety, punishment, misuse and abuse, death, slavery and the living conditions. Source A illustrates how harsh the working conditions were in the factories and the outcome of these horrendous working conditions is the immense amount of injuries that occurred in the workplace.
“He had seen many people in the streets of Manchester without arms and legs that it was like ‘living in the midst of the army just returned from a campaign’.” This tells us just how many injuries took place in the factories to children and that most of the injuries resulted in the children either losing their limbs or becoming disabled in some way.
In Source B Dr Ward from Manchester explains how the accidents that occurred in the factories where children would have their arms and fingers caught in the machinery which would result in them having their muscle and skin stripped down to the bone and most of them lost fingers. “There were forty-seven injured in this way.”
This quote tells us the amount of children that were harmed at the Lever Street School where one half of the children there sustained injuries from the machinery. Most of the injuries that occurred in the factories weren’t minor, a lot of the injuries caused the children and women to become disabled and deformed and caused many of them to die at a very young age.
“When I worked about half a year a weakness fell into my knees and ankles: it continued, and it got worse and worse.” This is what Joseph Hebergram answered in Source I after the interviewer asked him how the labour affected his limbs. This interview clearly depicts the effects the injuries had on the lives of the children. The injuries that took place in the factories is probably the greatest aspect that negatively affected England socially.
Another negative aspect is the lack of safety and the hazardous conditions that the women and children were forced to work in. Many of the machines that were used in the factories were not secure and none of the factories had any safety regulations. Source A tells us how many of the injuries that occurred in the factories were from working with the various machines.
“One hospital reported that every year it treated nearly a thousand people for wounds and mutilations caused by machines in factories.” What also took place is that after the machines injured a worker said machine would not be inspected or adjusted to be less harmful.
“There are factories, no means few in number, nor confined to the smaller mills, in which serious accidents are continually occurring, and in which, notwithstanding, dangerous parts of the machinery are allowed to remain unfenced.” These machines caused a lot of children and other factory workers to lose members of their bodies. In the coal mines the tunnels were very narrow and were not very high so the workers in the mines could barely kneel in the tunnels yet they were expected to pull heavy carts of coal through the tunnels.
“Thick, choking coal dust filled their lungs as they crawled through the darkness, their knees scraping on the rough surface and their muscles contracting with pain.” Because of the dust in the mines many miners died from lung cancer and other lung diseases before the age of 25. The Match Makers also suffered as the phosphorous fumes that were emitted when the matches were made left them with empty cheeks that oozed a stinking liquid.
“The substance ate at their jawbones, leading to brain damage and eventually death from organ failure.” The safety hazards in the glass factories were also very awful as they were burned and blinded from the intense heat and were poisoned by the clay dust in the potteries which caused them to faint from vomiting.
Many of the children were punished severely whenever they didn’t work up to the factory owner’s standards or if they grew fatigued. “Supervisors used terror and punishment to drive the children to greater productivity.” In Source E Robert North says that if they complained about anything they would be beaten.
The masters threatened the children if there were deemed as not working hard enough. “His master threatened to ‘knock his brains out’ if he did not get up to work, and pushed him to the ground, breaking his thigh.”
There are multiple cases in which children have been abused by their supervisors in order to scare them into working past their ability, some children had their ears hammered, whipping children with ropes, lifting a child off the ground by his neck until his face turned black (gibbeting), these are but a few examples of the punishments that the child workers faced. Source F illustrates how it wasn’t just children who were punished but also women and girls.
“I have often seen him pull up the clothes of big girls, seventeen or eighteen years of age, throw them across his knee, and then flog them with his hand in the sight of both men and boys.” This source tells us how many of the women were punished for being tired or other trivial acts. Sarah Goodling was beaten to death for stopping her machine when she felt a little ill. Mary was kicked to death for dropping her food can and Charlotte Smith had her hair cut off after she tried to run away from the mill in which they were chained.
This just proves to us the extent that the factory owners would go just to ensure that everyone worked so that they could receive profit. Source G explains how severe some of the punishments were, children were hit with straps so that they could work faster and if you tried to run away from the factory you would face prison time or you’d be placed in shackles.
“What then, must be the situation of the poor children who are doomed to toil fourteen hours a day, in an average of 82-degrees?” Source C describes how the children were misused and mistreated by being forced to work tremendously long hours in extremely unpleasant conditions and that they were forced to do hard labour in the scorching heat for fourteen hours every day.
“Can any man, with a heart in his body, and a tongue in his head, refrain from cursing a system that produces such slavery and such cruelty?” In Source F another way they were mistreated is explained, it was how the women were constantly degraded and humiliated, their dresses would be lifted and they would be flogged in front of men and boys who could see their undergarments and if they were seen talking to boys their hair would be cut off so they weren’t even allowed the luxury of being able to keep their hair.
A very morbid aspect would be the result of death. Many deaths occurred in the factories due to harmful conditions and dangerous machinery. Source D gives a very vivid description of the death of a girl named Mary Richards whose apron got caught in one of the shafts which lead to her premature demise.
“When she was extricated, every bone was found broken – her head dreadfully crushed.” Source E explains how the children who would sweep the chimneys would often fall to their deaths, the match makers died from the dangerous phosphorous fumes that they inhaled and the coalminers died from lung diseases which were caused from the dust in the mines. It was because of these deaths that England’s population fell in the 1830s.
Source E points out how the children and women factory workers were in a sense slaves since the children were shackled with iron to keep them from running away from the factories and how the factory owners did not see the children as humans but as less than people. Filthy, ragged and deplorable-looking object, these were the words used by an inspector to describe Patience Kershaw, a hurrier in one of the coalmines.
Just like slaves these children were forced to work beyond their means and if they grew tired or complained they were beaten severely, the ones who seemed likely to run away were shackled and many of the children were not allowed to leave the factory but were forced to live there.
“An inhuman subspecies who did not have the same feelings as their own and whose sufferings were unimportant.” This quote just proves how people didn’t care about how these children were being treated as long as they were able to live luxuriously with their silks and cottons and other riches. The women in Source F were locked up in the mills so that they wouldn’t be able to run away from the factory.
Source H is a picture of Robert Blincoe who was imprisoned for trying to run away from a factory and after he spent his time in prison he was forced to go back and work in the same factory but he was put in irons in fear that he would try and run away again.
The way these children and women were treated is exactly the same way slaves were treated. “It was also legal at this time to capture vagrant children and force them into apprenticeships: slavery in all but name.” This quote shines a light on how just like the Africans would be taken against their will and sold into slavery, orphaned children would be kidnapped and sold to work as factory owners.
The last negative aspect is the living conditions which were absolutely appalling. Up to 30 people would be crammed in one single room which were pretty much rat and sewage-filled cellars. The reason that most children were malnourished and susceptible to disease was because of the severe poverty that people suffered from during the 1830s and most households didn’t have male breadwinners because most of the “men of the house” had either died as a result of the horrible working conditions or had deserted their families.
The poor living conditions are what gave parents no other choice but to send their children to work in the factories. “They were often woken at 4am and carried, half-asleep, to the pits by their parents.” Because of the high demand for jobs the wages decreased and became very low and the only way parents would be able to save their children from starvation was for their children to get jobs. This put a huge emotional burden on the parents because those few pennies that their children earned were what stood between them and death. “Children paid the price.” This is all illustrated in Source E.
However, Source E also explains how the Industrial Revolution positively impacted the British economy. Britain was leading the international market, because of all their harbours they were the sole traders and they dominated in cotton and wool exports.
“A terrible price was paid for the success by the labourers who serviced the machines.” Basically Jane Humphries says that the treatment of workers was necessary for Britain to be where it is today. Britain gained economic power, there was growth in factories all over the country, people were becoming wealthy and a new social class erected due to all the minimal expenses and huge profits.
Source J illustrates that the women and children were extremely valuable to the mines and factories because their cheap labour caused the factories/mines to gain a lot of money. “Despite so-called exploitation…” This quote uses sarcasm to show how the women and children were not really exploited and implies that the way they were treated was needed in order for factories to flourish.
Regardless of the statement that the use of children and women affected England positively, on a social standing the exploitation that the women and children suffered will always put a dampening on any positive aspects because socially speaking it was not necessary for the children or women to be abused, mistreated, beaten to death or used as slaves in order for the factories to thrive.
The use of children and women in the workplace does negatively affect England on a social standing because of the way they were exploited by being worked like animals, imprisoned, beaten and underpaid.