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Sweatshops at SeaMerchant Seamen in the World's First Globalized Industry, from 1812 to the Present$
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Leon Fink

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834503

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807877807_fink

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Liberty before the Mast : Defining Free Labor in Law and Literature

Liberty before the Mast : Defining Free Labor in Law and Literature

(p.35) 2 Liberty before the Mast : Defining Free Labor in Law and Literature
Sweatshops at Sea

Leon Fink

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses the issue of the sailor's freedom, which gained nationwide prominence in the United States. Likely reflecting differences in social class and political structures as well as the contrasting fortunes of their shipping industries, the “rights” of sailors undoubtedly figured more prominently as a public issue in the United States than in Great Britain. In the United States, the period witnessed a veritable literary battleground of liberty versus tyranny and dissipation versus redemption projected onto the seas. Given the heightened contemporary awareness of other forms of dependency, the continuing subjection of sailors might inevitably have raised hackles. Changes in the actual experience of sailoring, as can be seen here, also figured into the controversy.

Keywords:   freedom, United States, social class, political structures, shipping industries

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