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Men Is CheapExposing the Frauds of Free Labor in Civil War America$
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Brian P. Luskey

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469654324

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469654324.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021



(p.207) Conclusion
Men Is Cheap

Brian P. Luskey

University of North Carolina Press

Wage labor employers won the war for Union, and they had won it with the assistance of intelligence offices managed by private entrepreneurs and state institutions such as the Freedmen’s Bureau. Union soldiers, northern women, businessmen, army officers, and politicians should get credit for being among abolition’s agents. They believed wholeheartedly in free labor, because the trajectory that ideology mapped for northerners showed that the only way to more independence in a market in which all were dependent was through the accumulation of capital and the opportunity to exploit others’ labor. They fought the war for Union against the slaveholders’ aristocracy to bolster their own authority. The movement of workers created by soldier recruitment, emancipation, and what Abraham Lincoln called the “friction and abrasion” of war gave them opportunities to do so. Intelligence offices served this war for Union by marshaling workers whose “capital in self” the state and employers could access for their benefit. These institutions could also take the blame for the inequalities and disappointments of wage labor capitalism in ways that obscured the fact that the war’s labor movements had unmade the promise of free labor for working people.

Keywords:   Wage labor, Freedmen’s Bureau, northern women, intelligence offices, independence, capital

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