THE EMERGENCE OF CHILDREN’S RIGHTS IN NINETEENTH CENTURY FRANCE: THE MELUN BROTHERS AND THE CHILD LABOR LAW OF 1874

Open Access
Author:
Bickle, Emily
Area of Honors:
French and Francophone Studies
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • David Post, Thesis Supervisor
  • Marc Authier , Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • France
  • Armand de Melun
  • Anatole de Melun
  • Child Labor Law of 1874
  • Children's Rights
  • Nineteenth Century
  • Child Labor
Abstract:
In the midst of a war, from the center stage of the Industrial Revolution, and at the birth of a new republic, twin brothers laid a foundation for children’s rights in France. Armand de Melun and Anatole de Melun’s accomplishments were realized with the enactment of the Child Labor Law of 1874. This thesis shows the role of the brothers as quintessential actors in the emergence of children’s rights in France. In a time when children were undervalued and subjected to harsh labor conditions, the Melun brothers gave a voice to the innocents. Armand de Melun worked to establish charities providing aid to children, veterans, the elderly, and, in general, the working class. Devoting his life to social work, he promoted awareness. Anatole de Melun was the president of the Melun Committee which fought for the bill proposed by deputy Ambroise Joubert to be moved to law. The Melun brothers challenged the standing children’s rights and social legislation in France. The thesis explores the brothers’ activism and its effects from their birth in 1807 to the enactment of the Child Labor Law of 1874. It examines Armand de Melun’s commitment to children’s rights prior to the 1874 law and analyzes the social, political, and economic environment during which Anatole de Melun spent his time on the Melun Committee. Evaluating the debates that surrounded the law, the law itself, and the progress established after the law, I argue for the importance of children’s rights activism. My thesis illustrates that the brothers’ work contributed to the Child Labor Law of 1874, the catalyst for effective children’s rights in France.