City Slave Girls

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The Ugly Truth Comes Out

In the 1880’s, the women and children who worked at factories and other enterprises were treated very poorly and suffered terrible abuse.  The working conditions were filthy and the children were being denied a proper education.  A local Chicago Newspaper wrote an article which exposed this horrible and unjust treatment to the public.  Several women’s societies were outraged and decided to fight for better working conditions for the women and children, but time went by and nothing materialized. 

Working Women Demand a Constitution

After several meetings with women’s society groups who could not agree with a solution, a group of the working women who were enduring the abuse from the employers banded together and called a meeting at Palmer House to propose a Constitution protecting the rights of women and wage-earning children.  A Committee was formed, who circulated flyers to about 70 women societies, many churches, and a few labor organizations, outlining their proposal and demands.  They requested to have three women of influence at their next meeting.

Enforcing Existing Laws

            The society states that they are not attempting to revise or create new laws, as the law on compulsory education and the ordinances that employers are to abide to are more than sufficient to make the working conditions suitable.  The laws in regards to child labor and women were passed over a decade before, however, none were being enforced.  After contacting the health                                                                                                               

department to view the ordinances, it was discovered by the society that these laws had never been taken seriously or abided to, because the health department did not even know where they were located in their office.  According to law, these ordinances were to be posted visibly for employees to see in every operating factory.  In conclusion, the women decided to approach the mayor of Chicago in an attempt to have public officers escort the women to the factories to inspect them for violations of existing laws, and to prosecute those that were not abiding by the ordinances.

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