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Gleanings of FreedomFree and Slave Labor along the Mason-Dixon Line, 1790-1860$
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Max Grivno

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036521

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036521.001.0001

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5. “Chased Out on the Slippery Ice”

5. “Chased Out on the Slippery Ice”

Rural Wage Laborers in Antebellum Maryland

(p.152) 5. “Chased Out on the Slippery Ice”
Gleanings of Freedom

Max Grivno

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines how landless workers survived in an economy whose defining characteristics were scarcity and uncertainty. Unskilled and unorganized, rural free laborers faced a desperate struggle for survival; they were buffeted by seasonal and cyclical unemployment, and their nonwage economic activities were constricted by a legal system that was designed to maintain slaveholders' authority. The prospects for single women and free African Americans were particularly dim in a labor market that restricted their opportunities in favor of white men, thus limiting their options and relegating them to the margins of the rural economy. In the end, these workers were often left with the mere gleanings of freedom.

Keywords:   rural wage laborers, landless workers, rural free laborers, single women laborers, free black laborers, rural economy

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