Coercion, Contract, and Free Labor in the Nineteenth Century

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Cambridge University Press, Feb 5, 2001 - History - 329 pages
This book presents a fundamental reassessment of the nature of wage labor in the nineteenth century, focusing on the common use of penal sanctions in England to enforce wage labor agreements. Professor Steinfeld argues that wage workers were not employees at will but were often bound to their employment by enforceable labor agreements, which employers used whenever available to manage their labor costs and supply. In the northern United States, where employers normally could not use penal sanctions, the common law made other contract remedies available, also placing employers in a position to enforce labor agreements. Modern free wage labor only came into being late in the nineteenth century, as a result of reform legislation that restricted the contract remedies employers could legally use.

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Contents

Acknowledgments
Free Wage Labor in the History of the West
1
AMERICAN CONTRACT LABOR AND ENGLISH WAGE LABOR THE USES OF PECUNIARY AND NONPECUNIARY PRESSURE
27
Free Contract Labor in the United States An Antiessentialist View of Labor Types I
29
Unfree Wage Labor in NineteenthCentury England An Antiessentialist View of Labor Types II
39
Explaining the Legal Content of English Wage Labor
85
Struggles over the Rules The Common Law Courts Parliament the People and the Master and Servant Acts
102
Struggles under the Rules Strategic Behavior and Historical Change in Legal Context
167
Struggles to Change the Rules
192
Freedom of Contract and Freedom of Person
234
FREE AND UNFREE LABOR IN THE UNITED STATES
251
Involuntary Servitude in American Fundamental Law
253
Labor Contract Enforcement in the American North
290
Conclusion
315
Index
323
Copyright

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