Guide to the United States

from the 1916 book of the same name by John Foster Carr

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School of Carpentry for Boys.


REQUIRED ATTENDANCE AT SCHOOL-- All children between 6 and 14 who are in proper condition, mentally and physically, to go to school, are required to attend instruction either at school, or by a competent teacher elsewhere, from October 1st to June 1st as many days as the public schools are in session. Children between 14 and 16 who are not at work must do the same. Boys between 14 and 16 who are at work, and who have not finished the elementary public school course, must go to night school not less than six hours a week, for not less than six weeks each year. Any child who violates these laws may be arrested and brought before the police magistrate for commitment to a truant school. If parents do not oblige their children to obey this law, they may be fined or imprisoned. this law is vigorously enforced.

EMPLOY CHILDREN UNLAWFULLY-- The laws of the state of New York, and of many other states, are very strict with regard to the kind of employment in which a child under the age of 16 years may be engaged. No one may employ a child under 14 in any business or service whatever during any part of the term when the public schools are in session. No child between 14 and 16 may so be em計loyed unless an employment certificate shall have been filed in the office of the employer at the place where the child is to work. This employment certi苯icate is only issued by the Board of Health. The penalty for breaking this regulation is a fine of $50 for each offense.

HOURS OF LABOR-- NO ONE UNDER 16 MAY WORK MORE THAN 9 HOURS IN ANY DAY. No one under 18 may work more than 10 hours in any day. No one under 18 may operate a rapid elevator. Except on Saturdays and between December 15th. and January 1st. No girl between 16 and 21 may work in a store more than ten hours a day. No boy under 18 and no woman under 21 is allowed to clean machinery while in motion. NO CHILD OR WOMAN MAY WORK IN THE BASEMENT OF ANY STORE WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE BOARD OF HEALTH OR COMMISSIONER OF LABOR.

THE NEWSBOY LAW-- No boy under 12 years of age may sell papers. Boys between 12 and 14 may do so until 8 o'clock at night. No girl under 16 may sell papers at any time. No boy who is, or seems to be, under 14 may sell papers unless he has a permit and badge given to him by the District superintendent of the Board of Education.

PROHIBITED EMPLOYMENTS OF CHILDREN-- The law makes it a crime for any one to employ a child begging, in gathering or picking rags, collecting cigar stumps, bones or refuse from a market, in any peddling or wandering occupation, training him for exhibition as a rope walker, acrobat, wrestler, contortionist, horseback or bicycle rider. It is also against the law to exhibit an insane, idiotic, or deformed child. A person who sells tobacco in any of its forms to any child, actually or apparently under the age of 16 years, or who buys junk of children, commits a crime that is punishable by law.

Selling intoxicating liquors to a minor, whether for his own use or for that of another or permitting a minor to remain in a place where such liquors are sold is a crime.


The spirit of the country is highly individualistic and there has been little special legislation in behalf of labor, such as regulation of the hours of labor, insurance against sickness, old age or unemployment.

Under the Federal Government, and in nearly all the states, 8 hours is the limit of daily work allowed for mechanics and laborers at work for the state. The legal daily limit is 10 hours for employees on street cars and elevated roads and steam and electric railroads, in brickyards, bakeries, drug stores, and factories making confectionery. Besides this, though not a matter of law, it is becoming the custom to limit the work of all manual trades to eight hours a day. Employers are required to provide safe and sanitary working conditions. Women may not work in factories more than 9 hours a day, or 54 hours a week, or between 10 P. M. and 6 A. M., or within 4 weeks after childbirth.

SWEATSHOPS-- No work, except on collars and cuffs, shirtwaists and shirts, can be done in a dwelling house without special license. No food, infants' or children's clothing can be manufactured in tenement houses at all. Violation of this law gives the owner of the house cause to bring action to dispossess the tenant.

WARNING-- Only peaceful means of persuasion may be used in labor difficulties. No matter how im計ortant or beneficial the object, the use of force, vio衍ence or threats makes a man liable to arrest and im計risonment ....

ACCIDENTS AND THE LAW-- Employers are obliged to give compensation for accidents in 31 states. The rate of payment varies. In New York, Massachusetts and Ohio if, on account of an accident, a man is unable to work and is forced to remain idle for more than two weeks, the compensation is equal to two thirds of his average wage. In other states it is less. Complete loss of use of any part of the body entitles the workman to additional payment. In case of death, the compensation is paid to his family. Unless he was willfully negligent, or drunk, his employer must also give the necessary medical and surgical aid. In states having no compensation laws, damages can be recovered only through the courts, and then only if the em計loyee can prove (1) that he did not contribute to the accident through his own negligence; (2) that he did not know that his work was dangerous; and (3) that no fellow workman contributed to the accident by his negligence. But this is always difficult to prove.

IMPORTANT ADVICE-- Advice and help may be had from the Workmen's Compensation Commission. In states having no compensation laws, after an accident the workman should himself, or through a friend, at once seek a lawyer, making sure to find an honest lawyer. He should be able to state in detail how the accident happened and give a list of the full names of all witnesses.

Absolutely refuse to work in a dangerous situation. At all times keep a sharp lookout for danger, and use the greatest personal care and intelligence to avoid accidents. This is all the more necessary, if you know no English, and do not understand written and spoken warnings. If an accident does happen, submit to all medical examinations when requested, but beware of signing any papers whatever, especially when accom計anied by gifts, without a lawyers advice. And beware of lawyers who come to you and say they wish to help you.


OBSERVANCE OF SUNDAY-- Food, except uncooked meat, may be sold on Sunday, and meals may be supplied during any time of the day. The sale of prepared tobacco, milk, ice, and soda water is permitted where liquors are not kept. Fruit, flowers, con苯ectionery, newspapers, drugs, medicines and surgical appliances may also be sold in a quiet way. Barber shops may be kept open until 1 o'clock in the afternoon. All other labor is forbidden.

The sale of alcoholic liquors of every kind is forbidden on Sunday, and the places in which such liquors are sold must be absolutely closed throughout the day. Exception is made of those places in which alcoholic liquors are sold as part of a meal.

All contracts made on Sunday are void, with the exception of those of charity and necessity. So, too, are legal documents--except wills--executed on Sunday, and these include promissory notes.

LEGAL INTEREST-- In all of the states there are laws fixing the rate of interest which may be charged on loans. This legal rate differs in different states; In New York it is 6%. To charge more than the legal rate is usury, the penalties for which differ in different states.

INSTALLMENT SALES-- According to the law of New York and of many other states, an article sold on the installment plan belongs to the seller until the last payment has been made. IT IS A CRIME TO DISPOSE OF SUCH PROPERTY BEFORE THE LAST PAYMENT HAS BEEN MADE.

DISPOSSESS-- When a landlord wishes to dispossess a tenant, he first makes application in court; the judge then sends a notice to the tenant to show cause why he should not move out on the day appointed in the notice, which must be not less than three nor more than five days after the notice is issued. If the tenant does not wish to leave he can go to court at that time. If it is a question of rent, and he is able to pay the money due and the costs of the court, or to give security for payment within 10 days, he can settle the matter in this way. If he has no money, and cannot give security to pay within the given time, he can usually obtain a stay of a few days before the final warrant is executed, in order that he may make some arrangement to go elsewhere. These rules apply to all rented premises.








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