Abbildungen der Seite

month to one year. Four of the 19 ex-messengers at the Protectory served for a year or two years before commitment; the remainder less than one year.

The most serious charge of all, that of subjecting young boys to immoral influences, is illustrated by the case of Joseph W. at the Juvenile Asylum. His mother in the deepest distress had him committed to save him from the consequences of his service as a messenger. He had been sent for by a woman in Monroe Street, had stolen for her, and in company with other boys was spending the nights in her rooms. The reformatory offered itself to his parents as the only means of restraint. As against this one boy, whose irregularities were discovered possibly in time to save him, who can say how many of the thousands subject to such dangers have fallen as he did, and fallen unobserved with no attempt at rescue? In the Bowery and Tenderloin districts where most of the Juvenile Asylum and Protectory boys were employed, calls for messengers in night hours meant, almost without exception, an introduction to vice. An inadequate attempt to minimize this danger is found in a section of the Penal Code forbidding messengers to be sent to any disorderly house, unlicensed saloon, etc., "except to deliver telegrams at the door of such house” — an exception which destroys the intent of the act, being obviously impossible of enforcement."

The law of 1903 marks a decided advance in the protection of messenger boys. They have been covered by the same laws which protect children working in mercantile establishments. Messengers must be over fourteen years of age; if between fourteen and sixteen years, their hours of labor are limited to nine per day; and they may not be employed between ten in the evening and seven in the morning. Before being employed, messengers must obtain from the Board of Health working papers, which are issued to them only if they have reached fourteen years, are not physically defective, and have completed a required amount of school attendance. These restrictions, if enforced, should eliminate many of the undesirable features of the service. Its insidious dangers for young boys, however, will not be effectively combated until the age limit is still further raised. Men over twenty-one years should, in time, be the only night employees in this business.

1 Penal Code, sec. 292 a.

The peddlers. — At the two reformatories the great majority of those calling themselves peddlers did not sell goods independently, but worked as helpers under some grown peddler — usually some vegetable or fruit vender. There are in all 29 boys at the Juvenile Asylum who worked as peddlers, ten of them having been newsboys also at some period. At the Protectory there are 42 ex-peddlers, of whom 27 were newsboys also.

Like other street workers, these boys began at very early ages: 23 of the Juvenile Asylum boys started to work between ten and twelve years; six boys at thirteen or fourteen years. At the Protectory, 31 boys began between ten and twelve years; 11 boys at thirteen or fourteen years. Their duties were to meet the peddler under whom they worked in the early morning at some market, to help him fill his wagon, and then to travel slowly through the streets until the goods were sold. Their hours of work usually lasted from five or six o'clock in the morning until some time in the afternoon. There is thus no night-work in this trade; but, like other street occupations, it encourages an irregular life and introduces a boy to evil companions.

School attendance is of necessity almost entirely dispensed with. Of the 11 older Protectory boys (thirteen and fourteen years old) three went to school; of the 31 younger ones (between ten and twelve years) seven went to school, making a total of ten who attended school out of 42 peddlers. At the Juvenile Asylum, eight of the 29 boys went to school, and peddled out of school hours.

These boys did not keep at the trade for long periods, because they found the pay small and the work heavy. Even a sturdy lad of ten or twelve soon tires of carrying heavy loads up the long flights of tenement stairs for hours in succession. Three of the 29 ex-peddlers at the Juvenile Asylum and six of the 42 at the Protectory worked at this business for one or two years; the rest less than one year. Their earnings were for the most part under fifty cents a day; only nine of the Protectory boys and a few at the Juvenile Asylum made as much as seventy-five cents a day.

Ending their work early in the afternoon, as these child peddlers did, they often finished the day with other street occupations.

John W. of the Protectory is an extreme illustration. For several years he was a newsboy, selling papers after school until late at night. When he was twelve years old he became a peddler in addition. Thereafter his various occupations engaged him for sometimes nineteen hours out of the twenty-four. At five o'clock in the morning he met the peddler who employed him at market, his mother providing him with a small alarm clock to waken him from his heavy sleep. Before school he worked on the street for three hours selling vegetables. School followed, and at three o'clock he was out to sell papers for the afternoon. At night be sold the late editions, occasionally staying out until midnight. "I wasn't much on sleeping,” he explained. One of the greatest hardships he endured on first coming to the Protectory was the necessity of spending in bed the conventional hours for sleep, seldom actually getting to sleep before morning.

Every one of these child peddlers worked in technical defiance of the section of the Penal Code which specifically forbids peddling by children under sixteen years of age. So sweeping a prohibition as this, with so high an age limit — higher than that required in the news trade, in factories and in mercantile establishments — is plainly unenforceable at present. The law is, in fact, enforced only when such peddling introduces a child to visibly immoral resorts or surroundings.

The line at present drawn between peddlers and newsboys seems wholly arbitrary. No valid reason appears why a child who peddles from a pushcart, or helps an adult peddler in the street, should not be subject to the same law which protects the newsboy. This is but one of the many anomalies in the existing legislation for the protection of children in New York. The measures passed in 1903 are far from being radical reforms, and should be regarded merely as initial attempts at improvement. Each one of the three street trades still waits for adequate protection. The attempt to license the child peddlers has failed entirely. The confusion of authorities for issuing newsboy licenses and for enforcing their use has been mentioned. The control of the messenger service by the Board of Health is entirely experimental and remains to be proved efficient in practice.

The most glaring defect of the juvenile delinquency laws of

New York, as of every other state except Colorado, is the failure to impose penalties upon the persons accessory to the child's transgressions — upon his parents, guardians, employers, etc. It is true that some penalties are provided for adults who participate in acts forbidden to children, e.g. a penalty for the junk dealer who buys from a boy under fourteen and for the bar-keeper or tobacconist who sells to a boy under that age; but these penalties are sporadic and illogical. The adult accessory in most cases goes unpunished and undeterred from repetitions of his offense.

Comparing the existing legislation of New York in behalf of children plying street trades with the standard set by the most advanced child-labor laws, the following deficiencies are to be noted:

1. Age limit. — The newsboy may go to work at an age lower than that allowed in any other occupation in New York State, viz. ten years.

2. Restriction on account of physical or mental incapacity. — The newsboy is granted a badge without physical or mental test of fitness, and having obtained it, he is subject to no further observation as to the effects of his trade.

3. Restriction of hours. — Messengers above the age of sixteen are not protected from night work, although the dangers of such work for any minor are undeniable. Newsboys are not adequately restricted from night work: in fact it can hardly be said that there is any real restriction in their case when a child of ten years may sell as late as ten at night and begin again at any hour of the early morning.

4. Restriction as regards trades dangerous to health or morals. From this point of view the existing laws are wholly inadequate. It does not seem unreasonable to expect that this ground of restriction will in time be so extended as to exclude all children from the trades of news-vender, messenger and peddler. A more enlightened public opinion will recognize all these trades as dangerous, and therefore as unfit for children.





RESENT appreciation of the value of the Louisiana terri

tory, and the estimate put upon it by France and Spain while they were its actual possessors, afford one of the most remarkable contrasts in history. The willingness of Spain to exchange the tract for a petty kingdom in northern Italy, the readiness of Napoleon to surrender it for a quite insignificant sum of money, and the consternation felt in the United States itself over the gigantic landslide from beyond the Mississippi, are too well known to need further comment. These conditions of mind will, at any rate, bear profitable comparison with the spirit of France in 1762 when ceding Louisiana to Spain, and with the feelings of that country in accepting it. Save as a matter of policy, France displayed the utmost indifference as to the fate of its American colony. To both powers Louisiana was not merely destitute of intrinsic value, it entailed a positive deficit. Its alienation would confer an advantage upon the donor, and entail a corresponding loss to the recipient. Ignorance, neglect and maladministration had brought on so much expense and vexation, that France felt inclined to relinquish the burden, although with a show of magnanimity that faintly concealed her actual sense of relief, while Spain took up the unwieldy mass with a display of gratitude that poorly masked her own chagrin. Compared with these circumstances, the attitude of France and Spain at the opening of the nineteenth century would seem to betoken a real reluctance in parting with the Louisiana territory. That of the United States in receiving it would appear one of positive eagerness.

Various considerations had induced Spain to participate in the

· See infra, p. 447, et seq.

? One of the most noted of recent Spanish historians has ventured the surprising statement that “the exploitation of the gold mines along the Mississippi brought quite a number of colonists to Louisiana.” Danvila, Historia del Reinado de Carlos III, t. iv, p. 74. Had such mines really existed, the history of the Spaniard in America affords some reason to believe that alacrity, and not reluctance, would have marked the attitude of Spain in reference to accepting Louisiana from France.

« ZurückWeiter »