Jacob A. Riis (18491914). The Battle with the Slum. 1902.
This long while he has been in the public eye as the vehicle and promoter of sweating, and much severe condemnation has been visited upon him with good cause. He had to do something, and he took to the clothes-makers trade as that which was most quickly learned. The increasing crowds, the tenement, and his grinding poverty made the soil wherein the evil grew rank. But the real sweater does not live in Ludlow Street; he keeps the stylish shop on Broadway, and he does not always trouble himself to find out how his workers fare, much as that may have to do with the comfort and security of his customers.
We do not have to have a license, said the tenants in one wretched flat where a consumptive was sewing on coats almost with his last gasp; we work for a first-class place on Broadway.
And so they did. Sweating is simply a question of profit to the manufacturer. By letting out his work on contract, he can save the expense of running his factory and delay longer making his choice of styles. If the contractor, in turn, can get along with less shop room by having as much of the work as can profitably be so farmed out done in the tenements by cheap home labor, he is so much better off. And tenement labor is always cheap because of the crowds that clamor for it and must have bread. The poor Jew is the victim of the mischief