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Child labor law spurned as ‘Yankee doings’

On this day in 1903: In his biennial message to the General Assembly, Gov. Charles Brantley Aycock calls for legislation “in behalf of the children who are working in textile and furniture factories.”

Manufacturers, who have beaten back previous restrictions on child labor, want no part of Aycock’s proposals – “Yankee doings,” in the words of W.L. London of Pittsboro. “You let us alone,” says Moses Cone of Greensboro, “and the matter will come out all right.”

But Aycock’s vow to stump the state moves the manufacturers to compromise. The Child Labor Law of 1903 will prohibit employment of children under age 12 in manufacturing except in the oyster industry, where young shuckers are paid by the gallon or bushel. Children under 18 are barred from working more than 66 hours per week.