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Land and FreedomRural Society, Popular Protest, and Party Politics in Antebellum New York$
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Reeve Huston

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780195136005

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195136005.001.0001

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Free Labor

Free Labor

(p.195) Chapter 9 Free Labor
Land and Freedom

Reeve Huston

Oxford University Press

The conservatives' vision of free labor as authoritarianism sanctioned by contracts remained the centerpiece of labor law for the rest of the century, a product of the courts' application of the English law of master and servant to labor relations in the United States. However, this ideal would enjoy no support in the political parties or public debate, and it would find no realization in lived class relations. With the demise of the landlords, class relations based on patrician ideals would disappear from New York—and from the North as a whole. The Anti-Rent Wars were thus part of a broad regional transformation: the abolition of “unfree” relations of labor. Along with the elimination of slavery, the anti-renters helped turn the northern United States into a society based on the ideology and practice of “free labor.”

Keywords:   conservatives, free labor, authoritarianism, United States, parties, landlords, class relations, New York, Anti-Rent Wars, slavery

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