My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about child labor. All right, here is how I feel about child labor:
If when you say child labor you mean the devil’s compact, the scourge of families, the bloody factory floor, that exploits the poor, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the limbs off the bodies of little children; if you mean the evil practice that topples the Christian father and mother from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.
But, if when you say child labor you mean the early accumulation of human capital, an honest day’s toil, the camaraderie of common purpose, that puts food on the table and experience on a resume, and the satisfaction of useful work; if you mean saving for the future; if you mean helping to pay a heating bill on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean investing in a child’s future and his happiness; if you mean learning to focus on a task so as to forget, if only for a little while, life’s great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that practice, the continuance of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.
This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.