October 18, 1883.
LIFE OF A MULE-SPINNER.
Q. What is your
business?--A. I am a mule-spinner by trade. I have worked at it since
I have been in this country --eleven years.
Q. Are you a married man?--A. Yes, sir; I am a married man; have a
wife and two children. I am not very well educated. I went to work
when I was young, and have been working ever since in the cotton business;
went to work when I was about eight or nine years old. I was going
to state how I live. My children get along very well in summer time,
on account of not having to buy fuel or shoes or one thing and another.
I earn $1.50 a day and can't afford to pay a very big house rent.
I pay $1.50 a week for rent, which comes to about $6 a month. . .
Q. Do you have work right along?--A. No, sir; since that strike we
had down in Fall River about three years ago I have not worked much
more than half time, and that has brought my circumstances down very
Q. Why have you not worked more than half the time since then?--A.
Well, at Fall River if a man has not got a boy to act as "back-boy"
it is very hard for him to get along. In a great many cases they discharge
men in that work and put in men who have boys.
Q. Men who have boys of their own?--A. Men who have boys of their
own capable enough to work in a mill, to earn 30 or 40 cents a day.
CHILD LABOR NECESSARY TO THE EMPLOYMENT OF PARENTS.
Q. Is the object
of that to enable the boy to earn something for himself?--A. Well,
no; the object is this: They are doing away with a great deal of mule-spinning
there and putting in ring-spinning, and for that reason it takes a
good deal of small help to run this ring work, and it throws the men
out of work because they are doing away with the mules and putting
these ring-frames in to take their places. For that reason they get
all the small help they can to run these ring frames. There are so
many men in the city to work, and whoever has a boy can have work,
and whoever has no boy stands no chance. Probably he may have a few
months of work in the summer time, but will be discharged in the fall.
That is what leaves me in poor circumstances. Our children, of course,
are very often sickly from one cause or another, on account of not
having sufficient clothes, or shoes, or food, or something. And also
my woman; she never did work in a mill; she was a housekeeper, and
for that reason she can't help me to anything at present, as many
women do help their husbands down there, by working, like themselves.
My wife never did work in a mill, and that leaves me to provide for
the whole family. I have two children. 
HARDSHIP OF UNDERTAKERS' AND DOCTORS' BILLS UPON THE POOR.
And another thing
that helped to keep me down: A year ago this month I buried the oldest
boy we had, and that brings things very expensive on a poor man. For
instance, it will cost there, to bury a body, about $100. . . . Doctors'
bills are very heavy--about $2 a visit; and if a doctor comes once
a day for two or three weeks it is quite a pile for a poor man to
Q. Will not the doctor come for a dollar a day?--A. You might get
a man sometimes, and you sometimes won't, but they generally charge
$2 a day. . . .
Q. They charge you as much as they charge people of more means?--A.
They charge as much as if I was the richest man in the city, except
that some of them might be generous once in a while and put it down
a little in the end; but the charge generally is $2. That makes it
SUPPORTING A FAMILY ON $133 A YEAR.
Do you think you have had $150 within a year?--A. No, sir.
Q. Have you had $125?--A. Well, I could figure it up if I had
time. The thirteen weeks is all I have had.
Q. The thirteen weeks and the $16 you have mentioned?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. That would be somewhere about $133, if you had not lost any time?--A.
Q. That is all you have had?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. To support yourself and wife and two children?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. Have you had any help from outside?--A. No, sir.
Q. Do you mean that yourself and wife and two children have had nothing
but that for all this time?--A. That is all. I got a couple dollars'
worth of coal last winter, and the wood I picked up myself. I goes
around with a shovel and picks up clams and wood.
DIGGING CLAMS TO EKE OUT AN EXISTENCE.
Q. What do you
do with the clams?
A. We eat them. I don't get them to sell, but just to eat, for the
family. That is the way my brother lives, too, mostly. He lives
close by us.
Q. How many live in that way down there?--A. I could not count them,
they are so numerous. I suppose there are one thousand down there.
Q. A thousand that live on $150 a year?--A. They live on less.
Q. Less than that?--A. Yes; they live on less than I do.
Q. How long has that been so?--A. Mostly so since I have been married.
Q. How long is that?--A. Six years this month.
Q. Why do you not go West on a farm?--A. How could I go, walk it?
TOO POOR TO GO WEST.
Q. Well, I want
to know why you do not go out West on a $2,000 farm, or take up a
homestead and break it and work it up, and then have it for yourself
and family?--A. I can't see how I could get out West. I have
got nothing to go with.
Q. It would not cost you over $1,500.--A. Well, I never saw over a
$20 bill, and that is when I have been getting a month's pay at once.
If some one would give me $1,500 I will go.
Q. Is there any prospect that anybody will do that?--A. I don't know
of anybody that would.
Q. You say you think there are a thousand men or so with their families
that live in that way in Fall River?--A. Yes, sir; and I know many
of them. They are around there by the shore. You can see them every
day; and I am sure of it because men tell me.
Q. Are you a good workman?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. Were you ever turned off because of misconduct or incapacity or
unfitness for work?--A. No, sir.
Q. Or because you did bad work?--A. No, sir. 
Q. Or because you made trouble among the help?--A. No, sir.
Q. Did you ever have any personal trouble with an employer?--A. No,
Q. You have not anything now you say?--A. No, sir.
Q. How old are you?--A. About thirty.
Q. Is your health good?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. What would you work for if you could get work right along; if you
could be sure to have it for five years, staying right where you are?--A.
Well, if I was where my family could be with me, and I could have
work every day I would take $1.50, and be glad to.
Q. One dollar and fifty cents a day, with three hundred days to the
year, would make more than you make now in three or four years, would
ONLY A DOLLAR'S WORTH OF COAL IN TEN MONTHS.
Q. Has there been
any day in the year that you have had to go without anything to eat?--
A. Yes, sir, several days.
Q. More than one day at a time?--A. No.
Q. How about the children and your wife--did they go without anything
to eat too?
THE CHILDREN CRYING FOR FOOD.
A. My wife went
out this morning and went to a neighbor's and got a loaf of bread
and fetched it home, and when she got home the children were crying
for something to eat.
Q. Have the children had anything to eat to-day except that, do you
think?--A. They had that loaf of bread--I don't know what they have
had since then, if they have had anything.
Q. Did you leave any money at home?--A. No, sir.
Q. If that loaf is gone, is there anything in the house?--A. No, sir;
unless my wife goes out and gets something; and I don't know who would
mind the children while she goes out.
Q. Has she any money to get anything with?--A. No, sir.
Q. Have the children gone without a meal at any time during the year?--A.
They have gone without bread some days, but we have sometimes got
meal and made porridge of it.
Q. What kind of meal?--A. Sometimes Indian meal, and sometimes oatmeal.
Q. Meal stirred up in hot water?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. Is it cold weather down there now?--A. It is very cold now.
SCANT CLOTHING IN COLD WEATHER
Q. What have the
children got on in the way of clothing?--A. They have got along very
nicely all summer, but now they are beginning to feel quite sickly.
One has one shoe on, a very poor one, and a slipper, that was picked
up somewhere. The other has two odd shoes on, with the heel out. He
has got cold and is sickly now.
Q. Have they any stockings?--A. He had got stockings, but his feet
comes through them, for there is a hole in the bottom of the shoe.
Q. What have they got on the rest of their person?--A. Well, they
have a little calico shirt--what should be a shirt; it is sewed up
in some shape--and one little petticoat, and a kind of little dress.
Q. How many dresses has your wife got?--A. She has got one since she
was married, and she hasn't worn that more than half a dozen times;
she has worn it just going to church and coming back. She is very
good in going to church, but when she comes back she takes it off,
and it is pretty near as good now as when she bought it.
Q. She keeps that dress to go to church in?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. How many dresses aside from that has she?--A. Well, she got one
here three months ago.
Q. What did it cost?--A. It cost $1 to make it and I guess about a
dollar for the stuff, as near as I can tell.
Q. The dress cost $2? --A. Yes.
Q. What else has she?--A. Well, she has an undershirt that she got
given to her, and she has an old wrapper, which is about a mile too
big for her; somebody gave it to her.
Q. She did not buy it?--A. No. That is all that I know that she has.
Q. You have had $1 or $2 worth of coal last winter?--A. I think it
was a quarter of a ton, and I believe it was $2.25 worth.
Q. Is that all you have had?--A. That is all I had last winter. All
the rest I picked up--wood.
Q. Did you try to get work?--A. I was working last winter.
Q. You say that a good many others are situated just like you are?--A.
Yes, sir; I should say as many as a thousand down in Fall River are
just in the same shape, if not worse; though they can't be much worse.
I have heard many women say they would sooner be dead than living.
I don't know what is wrong, but something is wrong. There is an overflow
of labor in Fall River.
Q. Why do not these people go out West upon farms and go to farming?--A.
They have not got the means. Fall River being a manufacturing place,
it brings them in there; and when the mills in other places stop for
want of water that brings them into Fall River. I think there are
quite a lot of them that have come from Lowell and Lawrence these
three or four weeks back--whatever brings them.
Q. Is there anything else that you want to say to the committee?--A.
Well, as regards debts; it costs us so much for funeral expenses and
doctors' expenses; I wanted to mention that.
The CHAIRMAN. You have stated that. It is clear that nobody can afford
either to get sick or to die there.
The WITNESS. Well, there are plenty of them down there that are in
very poor health, but I am in good health and my children generally
are in fair health, but the children can't pick up anything and only
get what I bring to them.
Q. Are you in debt?--A. Yes. sir.
Q. How much?--A. I am in debt for those funeral expenses now $15--since
a year ago.
Q. Have you paid the rest?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. You live in a hired tenement?--A. Yes; but of course I can't pay
a big rent. My rent is $6 a month. The man I am living under would
come and put me right out and give me no notice either if I didn't
pay my rent. He is a sheriff and auctioneer man. I don't know whether
he has any authority to do it or not, but he does it with people.
Q. Do you see any way out of your troubles--what are you going to
do for a living--or do you expect to have to stay right there?--A.
Yes. I can't run around with my family.
Q. You have nowhere to go to, and no way of getting there if there
was any place to go to? --A. No, sir. I have no means nor anything,
so I am obliged to remain there and try to pick up something as I
Q. Do the children go to school?--A. No, sir; they are not old enough;
the oldest child is only three and a half; the youngest one is one
and a half years old.
Q. Is there anything else you wanted to say?--A. Nothing further,
except that I would like some remedy to be got to help us poor people
down there in some way. Excepting the Government decides to
do something with us we have a poor show. We are all, or mostly all,
in good health; that is, as far as the men who are at work go.
Q. You do not know anything but mule-spinning, I suppose?--A. That
is what I have been doing, but I sometimes do something with pick
and shovel. I have worked for a man at that, because I am so put on.
I am looking for work in a mill. The way they do there is this: There
are about twelve or thirteen men that go into a mill every morning,
and they have to stand their chance, looking for work. The man who
has a boy with him he stands the best chance, and then, if it is my
turn  or a neighbor's turn who has no boy, if another man comes
in who has a boy he is taken right in, and we are left out. I said
to the boss once it was my turn to go in, and now you have taken on
that man; what am I to do; I have got two little boys at home, one
of them three years and a half and the other one year and a half old,
and how am I to find something for them to eat; I can't get my turn
when I come here.
He said he could
not do anything for me. I says,--"Have I got to starve; ain't I to
have any work?" They are forcing these young boys into the mills that
should not be in mills at all; forcing them in because they are throwing
the mules out and putting on ring-frames. They are doing everything
of that kind that they possibly can to crush down the poor people--the
poor operatives there.
1. What was O’Donnell’s
problem? Why was he having such a hard time?
2. What was keeping O’Donnell from raising his status?
3. What kind of advice did Carnegie give to young men? How did Carnegie
4. Would Carnegie’s advice be helpful to O’Donnell?