Tuesday, November 2, 2010

quote of the day, tomlins part MLXII

Another great excerpt from an excellent scholar:
Though unquestionably an important source of early colonial-era labor power, migrant indentured servitude was nevertheless considerably less significant in establishing a foundational character for the performance of work in the colonial era than has been assumed. Participation in the performance of work was widespread in the population as a whole -- virtually everyone worked in some capacity -- and the institutional structure of performance far more diverse. Correspondingly, the companion assumption that the American political economy followed a clear trajectory from ubiquitous 'unfreedom' toward a late eighteenth and nineteenth-century 'free' waged workforce norm (market driven allocation of individual capacities to labor through unregulated wage contracts) also becomes suspect, or at the very least vastly more complicated than prevailing analyses have supposed.
From Christopher Tomlins, Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America, 1580-1865 (Cambridge, 2010)

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