Sharpsburg, Maryland, 1803
This introductory chapter argues for a broader, more inclusive history of American workers by focusing on the histories of northern Maryland's free and enslaved farmhands. It presents an overview of this rural workforce and its inherent diversity, illustrating through anecdotes and other literature the myriad bonds that developed between labor regimes and among workers, regardless of the divide between slavery and free labor. Indeed, the chapter argues that this divide is not often as clear as it initially appears to be. And to supplement further discussion in the succeeding chapters, this introduction also offers a brief geographical and political overview of the narrow swath of territory near the Mason–Dixon Line. More specifically, it focuses on six Maryland counties that abutted the sectional border (Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Harford, Frederick, and Washington).
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