In the 1800’s, it was not out of the ordinary for a child to work sixteen-hour days, seven days a week. Michael Thomas Sadler tried to show in the Sadler Report of the House of Commons, how brutal it was. The Sadler Report was volumes of testimonies from children workers and older people, who once had to work as children in the mines and factories. The treatment of children had become increasingly worse and worse. The main point the Sadler Report was trying to get across was the exploitation of children workers.
While reading this short exert from the Sadler Report, it was evident that both mental and physical abuse was taking place. A child needs to be nurtured in a certain way to grow up happy and healthy. A child can’t be imprisoned in a factory all day and be expected to be normal. The brutality inside the factories can be separated into mental and physical abuse. Michael Thomas Sadler interviewed Mr. Matthew Crabtree. During this interview, Matthew told Sadler about what it was like working in a mill in the 1800s. First, Matthew stated that he works, “From 6 in the morning to 8 at night.” Then proceeds to explain when he had time to rest and eat, “An hour at noon.” The rest of the conversation about rest breaks and eating reveals that if you don’t want to bring you lunch to work with you, and most didn’t because it was eventually covered in dirt and dust from the machines, that they could go home. But the only thing was, are most of the children living a mile or two away from the mill. That means with the little time the children have a break, they stay on their feet, run home and eat, and promptly return to the mill for more strenuous work.
Next, Matthew talks about how he was severely beaten at work. Sadler asks Matthew, “State the condition of the children toward the latter part of the day, who have thus to keep up with the machinery.” Matthew replies, “ It is as much as they can do when they are not very much fatigued to keep up with their work, and toward the close of the day, when they come to be more fatigued, they cannot keep up with it very well, and the consequence is that they are beaten to spur them on.” So Matthew is basically saying that towards the end of the day, when fatigue and exhaustion has set in, the children are beaten so they finish their work. Matthew proceeds to say that it is a daily occurrence for him to be beat. Even though he is so tired and knows that if he doesn’t keep up with his work, that he will be beaten, it doesn’t faze him anymore.
To make matters even worse then they already are, the children are paid three shillings a week. One would think that the owner of the mill would see what he was doing to these poor children, but he didn’t.
After reading the Sadler Report, which was the report that led to child labor reform in the Factory Act of 1833, I was in complete shock. I couldn’t even imagine the hardships these children had to face on a daily basis. They were deprived of all the fun and healthy activities that children now enjoy regularly. I was also amazed how strong these children were. Day after day, they were forced to wake up early, work all day, come home, and were so exhausted it made them ill. I think that because of Sadler and his report, it helped the parliament see what kind of abuse children are going through.