Free Labor the Majority of Term Paper

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These newspapers continuously wrote that there is no essential conflict between labor class (referring to wage earners) and the capitalists and that each should not suspect the other in the development of America.

Southern slave society: An essential conflict with free labor social order

There were many distinctions in the Northern and Southern economic and social outlook of America. There were conflicting ideologies being pursued in these regions and the economic progress of Northern region was associated to the free enterprising class known as the middle class. The class thrived in the Northern region by investing in their own businesses, small and large. On the contrary, Southern society was based on slavery system. The Northerners demanded that the slavery of fugitives' slaves shall be abolished and free soil in the west was to be enforced. The essential elements that divided the Northerners and Southerners were the matter of slavery. The Southerners insisted on expanding the scope of slavery by legalizing that fugitive slaves are handed back and those escaping to Caribbean and Central America not to be allowed to stay there. The compromise of 1850 did not last long and the Fugitive Slave Act became the contentious issue between conservatives of South and the enterprising Northerners. The southern owners, by using the legal cover of the Fugitive Slave Actenslaved the fugitive slaves again.

This was resisted by the Northerners. Their way of life and liberty was essentially at conflict with the slavery-based values of Southern owners. The concept regarding economic progress and equality of opportunity as being professed by the Republicans and other Northerners had no place for slavery in the society. The lack of opportunity and to be master of owns life was related to the ultimate progression of society. Bonded labor created social classes, not by virtue of respective effort put by each class to gain economic progress but by political and legal maneuverings. It was through enslavement that Southerners created did not allow poor and destitute to strive for better economic and social prospects.

Such deep was the issue of slavery that it broke down the part of Whigs during 1850s and led Republicans to replace them as a symbol of hope, prosperity, and economic progress. The main reason of elimination of Whigs from national scene was their persistence to support the slave system in south whereas its own leaders were not willing to support such oppressive practice while rest of Americas strived for economic progress. Such diverse and conflicting was the issue of slavery and the difference in Southern and Northern concepts of economic progress that 'The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854' nearly destroyed two political parties, Whigs were totally eliminated from political scene and Democrats saw their party divided on sensational lines. W.C. Pennington quoted that the slavery impacted each and every aspect of economic and thus the social life of African-Americans. He said "the being of slavery, its, and its body, lives and moves in the chattel principle, the property principle, and the bill of sale principle" (Henretta, Edwards & Self, 358). The domestic slave trade was considered to be absolutely what Republicans essentially wanted to abolish in figurative sense as well. The Republicans held the view that "Free labor meant independence from wage earning with fixed salaries, if northern person is wage earning and dependent for whole life, he is no different from southern slave" (Foner, 15). Thus, the Republican viewed dependence of a northern on the wages for whole of his life as being equal to the status of a southern slave. This figurative explanation indicates that the southern way of life and economic conduct was fundamentally conflicting with that of Republican's notion of free labor and enterprise, let alone being inconsistent with Republican ideology.


The Republican concept of free labor, as described by Zachariah Chandler, meant "that a young man goes out for service, for labor by wages and earns enough money to start his own farm and becomes employer of labor." Thus, it was contradictory to the oppressive and conservative notions of labor held by the southern slave owners. The progress of American society, according the Republican perspective, lay in the enterprising and middle class men who strived for better economic prospects. The practices of slavery and such oppressive social and economic systems were opposed to the very concept of economic justice that was…

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