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Ethical Issues

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Ethical issues; meaning conforming to good morals, actions, or right principles of conduct, are problems that we encounter almost every day. Thinking about the word ethics brings to mind a controversial issue such as abortion, prejudice, or equalization of human rights. Goods ethics also means the simple things like telling the truth, avoiding cheating and manipulation of others, obeying the law, helping others, and doing what is morally right according to the standards set by our society. While taking United States History, the class encountered women's suffrage, slavery, child labor, and much prejudice against others of diverse ethical and religious backgrounds. Although the people of the set time period may not have viewed them as being morally inapt, today's society knows that such behavior is unacceptable.

The role of women in Early America

Before the 1800's women were bound to the homes and farms and maintained a structured home, while the men worked. Women did not receive equal rights nor did they vote or hold office. Respectable women were married and confined to being homemakers. During the 1860's women found more occupations, such as shop clerks, teachers, "type writers", and some even worked in the industrial fields. In the 1920's when the nineteenth amendment was passed, women became eligible to vote.

Today in the modern world women's suffrage still exists in the Mid-East and other countries, but the United States considers it unethical and unfair. Women have equal rights and equal access to employment, property, and education. Although today we consider the undermining of women cruel and wrong, that was the norm and a tolerable part of every day life.

Child Labor

During the late 18th and early 19th century child labor was a popular resource for employment. It was inexpensive and easy to obtain. In December 1790 the first American factory began production. The machines were tended by a labor force of nine children, the work was simple and the pace was slow. This labor pattern continued for several decades.1 Most workers in the early textile factories were women and children. They were employed because the machines needed less skill to be operated and the shortage of labor made it necessary to tap into unexploited resources. By the early 1820's about half of the cotton textile industry relied on employees under the age of 16. Most of the people of this generation considered this a good thing. They reasoned that the work was easy and that it kept youngsters busy at useful tasks and provided their families with extra income. Child labor in the 1850's differed from that of the 1820's. The pace of the machines had become much faster and the working environment more dangerous. After the labor unions began, the rights of children in working environments became an issue. In 1900 about 1.7 million children under the age of 16 were working full time. In 1904 the National Child Labor Committee was organized, and obtained laws in nearly every state banning the employment of young children and limiting the working of the older ones. In 1916 the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional.

Slavery in America

The first African blacks were probably brought to English North America by a Dutch ship to Jamestown in 1619. Early records are vague and incomplete,



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