The Children's Exodus

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The Strike at Lawrence, Mass., Hearings Before the Committee on Rules.

Children of strikers were sent to live with supporters as far off as Vermont and New York, in part to raise awareness of what was happening in Lawrence. Police and the militia tried preventing 40 children from leaving by train to Philadelphia on February 24. The train station melee resulted in injuries and the arrests and jailing of mothers and children. One pregnant mother miscarried.

The press reported extensively on the February 24 Lawrence train station attack. When the women and children were taken to the Police Court, most of them refused to pay their fines and opted for a jail cell, some with babies in arms. Headlines read: “Arrest Children in Textile Strike,” Cleveland Plain Dealer; “Police Prevent Children’s Exile,” Lawrence Eagle-Tribune; “Children and Mothers Taken by Police,” Boston Globe; “Police Clubs Keep Waifs In,” New York Times.

The police action against the mothers and children succeeded in gaining the nation's attention and in particular that of Helen Herron Taft, wife of President Taft. Soon after, the House and Senate investigated the strike, taking testimony from some of the strikers' children, and publishing official reports detailing the conditions in Lawrence.