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Between Slavery and CapitalismThe Legacy of Emancipation in the American South$
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Martin Ruef

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691162775

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691162775.001.0001

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Constructing a Free Labor Market

Constructing a Free Labor Market

Chapter:
(p.21) Chapter 2 Constructing a Free Labor Market
Source:
Between Slavery and Capitalism
Author(s):

Martin Ruef

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691162775.003.0002

This chapter studies the extent to which the Freedmen Bureau's effort to reinstate plantation labor for former slaves in the mid-1860s was associated with changes in the valuation of black labor. Despite similarities in coercion and the organization of labor, the valuation of wage labor under the bureau was linked to human capital investments and statistical discrimination in ways that were fundamentally different from the valuations observed in appraisals, purchases, and hires within the antebellum slave market. This shift in the logic of valuation produced uncertainty among bureau agents, employers, and former bondsmen and women themselves as to how black workers would be compensated within the emerging free labor market of the American South.

Keywords:   Freedmen Bureau, plantation labor, black labor, wage labor, human capital investments, statistical discrimination, antebellum slave market, black workers, free labor market

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