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Factory legislation:
5 Eliz. cap. 4.
43. Eliz. cap. 3.
Will III. 8 & 9, cap. 30.

59 Geo. III. cap. 66. An Act for the Regulation of Cotton

Mills and Factories.

7 & 8 Vict. cap. 15. Labor in Factories. 34 & 35 Vict. ch. 31. 38 & 39 Vict. ch. 86. erty Act.

1876. Trade Unions Act.

39 & 40 Vict. ch. 22. 314 Wm. IV. cap. 103. An Act to Regulate the Labor of Children and Young Persons in the Mills and Factories of the United Kingdom.

An Act to Amend the Laws relating to

1871. Trade Unions Act.
1875. Conspiracy and Protection of Prop-

8 & 9 Vict. cap. 29. An Act to Limit the Hours of Labor of Young Persons and Females in Factories.

30 & 31 Vict. cap. 103. The Factory Acts Extension Act.

30 & 31 Vict. cap. 146. The Workshop Regulation Act.

41 & 42 Vict. cap. 16. An Act to Consolidate and Amend

the Law Relating to Factories and Workshops.

6 Edw. VII. ch. 58, Dec. 21, 1906.

9 Edw. VII. ch. 7. Sept. 20, 1909.

9 Geo. III cap. 83.

The Minimum Wage Laws:

New Zealand: The Industrial Concilation and Arbitration Act, 1894-1901.

Victoria; Special Boards Act, 1896.

Great Britain: Trade Boards Act, 1909.

Coal Mines (Minimum Wage) Act, 1912.

Arkansas: C 291, Laws 1915.

California: C. 324, Laws 1913.

Colorado: C. 110, Laws 1913.
Kansas C 275, Laws 1915.

Massachusetts: C. 706, Laws 1912: Am'd C's. 33, 673, Laws


Minnesota: C. 547, Laws 1913.
Nebraska: C. 211, Laws 1913.
Oregon: C. 62, Laws 1913.
Utah: C. 63, Laws 1913.
Washington: C. 174, Laws 1913.
Wisconsin: C. 712, Laws 1913.

1 B. L. Hutchins and A. Harrison, A History of Factory Legislation Appendix G.


Barbier v. Connolly, 113 U. S., 31.

Briscoe v. Bank of Kentucky, 11 Pet., 257.
Blue v. Beach, 155 Ind., 121.

Cincinnati v. Conners, 1 Ohio St., 77-83.
Chicago Co. v. Iowa, 94 U. S., 163.

Chicago B. O. Quincy R. R. Co. v. McGuire, 219 U. S., 549.

Dunlop v. U. S., 173 U. S., 65.

Dowling v. Lancashire Co., 31 L. R. A., 112.

Frisbie v. U. S., 157 U. S., 165.

Gas Light Co. v. Light Co., 115 U. S., 650.
Holden v. Hardy, 169 U. S., 397.

Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 25 Sup. Ct. Rep. 358.
Kansas v. Colorado, 185 U. S., 125.

Louisville Co. v. Garret, 34 Sup. Ct. Rep., 48.
Missouri v. Illinois, 180 U. S., 208.

Mormon Church v. The United States, 136 U. S., 1.

Mugler v. Kansas, 123 U. S., 223.
Muller v. Oregon, 208 U. S., 412.
McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wh., 415.
McAunich v. R. R. Co., 20 Ia., 343.
McLean v. Arkansas, 211 U. S. 547.
Moers v. Reading, 21 Pa., 202.

Minneapolis Co. v. Railroad Commission, 116 N. W., 905.
Noble State Bank v. Haskell, 219 U. S., 104.

Otis v. Parker, 187 U. S., 606.

State v. Corvallis Co., 59 Oregon, 450.

State v. C. M. & St. Paul Ry Co., 38 Minn., 295.

State v. Muller, 48 Oregon, 252.

Stone v. Mississippi, 101 U. S., 816.

Slaughter House Cases, 16 Wall., 36 and 111 U. S., 746.

Stettler v. O'Hara, Supreme Court of Oregon, March 17, 1914.

Union Co. v. Landing Co., III U. S., 751.

Union Co. v. United States, 27 Sup. Ct. Rep., 367.

United States v. Fisher, 2 Cr., 358.

Watkins v. Holman, 16 Pet., 60.



"Law will be forced to adapt itself to new conditions of society, and particularly to new relations between employers and employees as they arise." In other words, law is a progressive science and adaptable to changing conditions. This is the intelligent principle of expediency and humanity underlying all our labor legislation, enacted in the mutual interest of the employer and the employed, and of society as the ultimate benefactor. The expression of the principle as a legal dictum is a comparatively recent development, but its practical influence can be traced back more than a century in the history of the English speaking peoples, to the year 1802 when the English Parliament passed the first of a series of Factory Acts, which have grown to embrace a large field of remedial legislation in the interest of labor. One of the latest, and perhaps the most controverted, extensions of the principle of the Factory Acts has been the establishment by law of a living wage for certain classes of employees, or for the employees in certain trades and industries.2 A great deal of legal and historical fiction has been cited by those who oppose the establishment by law of a minimum wage, in their effort to maintain their proposition that legal regulation of the rate of wages is an unwarranted and an unprecedented extension of governmental activity. The many legal and economic objections to legislative interference with the payment of wages will be considered later and in their proper places; it is necessary, first of all, to dispel, if possible, the popular notion that minimum wage legislation a adical modern experiment without historical precedent. A brief survey of the history of labor legislation in England, Australasia, and the United States-the only coun

1 Slaughter House cases, 16 Wallace, 97.

"In 1802 there was enacted the first of the long list of industrial and social measures, which in principle are the same as the demand for the Living Wage, p. 13. . . . The Living Wage is the inevitable outcome, and the natural complement, of the industrial and social legislation of the last hundred years." p. 24, Philip Snowdon, "The Living Wage."

tries that have enacted minimum wage laws1-will bear out the earlier statements that law is a progressive science, and that the modern minimum wage law is properly an extension of the English Factory Acts, and, therefore, not a radical departure from the established practices of the past century.


The legal regulation of the rate of wages in England began in 1349 with the first of the long series of Statutes of Laborers. Since August of the preceding year the island had suffered severely from a visitation of the Black Death. It has been estimated that probably one-third of the population of England perished as a result of this dreaded visit. The immediate economic effects a dearth of labor, an excessive enhancement of wages, and serious difficulty in gathering the harvest-were, on the face of them, appallingly ruinous; but in truth, the Plague practically emancipated the remaining feudal serfs in England and inaugurated a golden age for English laborers, for during the fifteenth, and the first quarter of the sixteenth centuries wages rose and prices fell in spite of the frantic efforts of the government to frustrate by statute the natural operation of economic laws. In general, the effect of the Plague upon labor was to decrease the supply, increase the demand, and raise the price so high that the land owners were forced to release their tenants from their feudal obligations in order to induce them to remain on the lands and to cultivate them. In consequence of this dearth of labor, harvests were left to rot in the fields and cattle and sheep to roam at large. The King, thereupon, issued a proclamation directing all officers that no higher than customary wages should be paid, under penalty of amercement.' As soon as Parliament met, this proclamation was reduced to the form of a statute-the first of the series of Statutes of Laborers that remained laws until the days of Elizabeth. Not only were wages fixed by these statutes, but laborers were forbidden to combine in order to sell their services collectively on the best markets, as the agricultural laborers did after the Plague.

1 France enacted a minimum wage law applicable to women home workers in 1913. See Appendix, P., I.

2 Thorold Rogers, "Work and Wages," p. 223. 3 Thorold Rogers, "Work and Wages," p. 227.

This was the beginning of formal legal regulation of wages in England. But it should be noted here that this was not the establishment of a legal minimum, but a legal maximum; it was a law for the benefit of the employer, not for the benefit of the employee. Maximum wages were fixed by law until 1824. In fact, the charge has been made that between 1349 and 1824 there was a deliberate conspiracy between the government and those financially interested in its success, to rob, by law, the laborer of the advantage he had gained as a result of the Plague, to cheat him of his wages, to shackle him to the soil, and to degrade him into hopeless penury. Whether the process of debasement was conscious and deliberate or merely the unfortunate result of mistaken governmental policies, as were the Poor Laws of Elizabeth, is not important in this connection; it is sufficient to point out that a long series of governmental acts, beginning with the Statutes of Laborers in 1349 and ending, perhaps, during the first quarter of the nineteenth century, had this demoralizing effect, and our modern social legislation is an attempt, in a great measure, to undo these mistakes of the past.

During the fifteenth century the Statutes of Laborers were openly violated, and, in truth, they had little economic effect until the debased currency of Henry VIII' and Edward VI came to their assistance. When labor was paid for in depreciated money, no matter how high the wage, it is easy to anticipate the result: prices rose and real or effective wages fell, and the present labor problem of England emerged.

As if to follow up an advantage gained, Henry VIII destroyed the guilds and confiscated their property, thus taking away from the laborer his one source of assistance in times of difficulty, for in times of need the guilds had loaned him money without interest, had apprenticed his son, or had pensioned his widow.' Elizabeth substituted for the Statute of Laborers a similar act, the Statute of Apprenticeship, which empowered the justices in Quarter Sessions to fix the rate of wages in husbandry and the handicraft trades. The abasement of the laborer was now so complete that Elizabeth found it necessary to adopt palliatives to mitigate the most intolerable conditions of the worker's life—

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1 Thorold Rogers, "Work and Wages," p. 398.

* Henry put out his first debased money in 1543. Elizabeth restored the old standard in 1560.

3 Thorold Rogers, "Work and Wages," p. 342-346.

Ibid., p. 346-349.

5 Eliz., cap. 4.

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