This paper considers the comparison which was made frequently in England in the nineteenth century between the factory children of England and the slaves of the West Indies and the Americas. It was an English habit, comparing factory children with slaves, and Americans did not compare slaves with factory children, so that the comparison, historically, has importance only in England. I have long known about ‘Yorkshire Slavery’, but only recently have I delved deeply into the literature on American slavery. In reading some of the contributions to that tragic debate which culminated in the Civil War (‘the War of Northern Aggression’ as a professor from Georgia described it to me), and especially that section of it which defended slavery, I was intrigued with its similarity to a different but near-contemporary literature which defended the employment of children in the factories of industrializing England. I had thought always that any defence of slavery must be perverse, but I had myself defended, not child-labour as such, but the factory-owners, the employers of children, from the universal and grosser accusations of greed, cruelty and immorality which had been flung at them so generously and so carelessly both by contemporaries and by historians. It was with some chagrin, nevertheless, that I found many of the arguments for slavery both ingenious and convincing. However, to be convinced it was necessary for me to temporarily suspend belief in the basic and unacceptable immorality of slavery in a civilized society. But, given that slavery existed legally, and assuming away its immorality, then the arguments that a slave society and economy offered many social and economic ‘goods’, both to slaves and to free men, were quite convincing. Turning to the opponents of slavery, I found, as I had expected, that their arguments were also convincing: convincing without the suspension of judgment, but more convincing on moral than on 391economic grounds. And again there was a remarkable similarity to the arguments of those who opposed child employment in factories. The opponents of slavery and of child labour, however, argued with the firm assurance of moral righteousness, and so the prevailing tone of their contributions to the debate was moral rather than analytical, passionate rather than sober, abusive rather than conciliatory. The cases against slavery and child labour were obvious; all that seemed to be necessary was moral indignation to obtain the assured support of all good men. Because of this, perhaps, the arguments against slavery and child labour were less interesting and less provoking than the arguments for. The slave plantation and the factory as institutions presented great intellectual challenges in the societies in which they existed and forced great debates and great actions, and the intellectual responses were certainly deep and interesting. But, whatever the perversity of the arguments for slavery and child labour, they were intrinsically more interesting than the arguments against, for the obvious reason that defence was more difficult and had, therefore, to be more subtle and more complex. And so although conviction characterized both sides of the debate about slave and child labour, it was morality against, and ingenuity for, which were the other and decisive components in the argument.