Today I stood in a breaker for half an hour and tried to do the work a twelve-year-old boy was doing day after day, for ten hours a time, for only sixty cents a day. The gloom of the breaker appalled me. It was a wonderful day outside. Within the breaker there was blackness, dust everywhere, and the harsh, load roars of the machinery and the constant rushing of coal through the chutes filled ears. I tried my best to complete the task that these men and young boys do on a daily basis, within a matter of time my hands were bruised and cut, I was dirty and op top of everything I could barely breathe.
I could not do that work and live, but there were boys of ten and twelve years of age doing it for fifty and sixty cents a day. Most of these boys have never been inside of a school; few of them could even read. Some attended school at night but after working a long strenuous day their grades were not good. From the breakers the boys graduate to the mine depths, where they become door tenders, switch boys, or mule drivers. Here, far below the surface, work is still very dangerous. At fourteen or fifteen the boys assume the same risks as the men, and are surrounded by the same dangers.
It is in Pennsylvania and West Virginia that these terms exist boys starting a 9 and up become employed to work in the mines. Think of what it means to be a boy going through this. It means to sit alone in a dark mine passage hour after hour, with no one near; to see no living creature because you are subject to being under