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Men Is Cheap – Exposing the Frauds of Free Labor in Civil War America - North Carolina Scholarship Online
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Men Is Cheap: Exposing the Frauds of Free Labor in Civil War America

Brian P. Luskey


When a Civil War substitute broker told business associates that "Men is cheep here to Day," he exposed an unsettling contradiction at the heart of the Union's war effort. Despite Northerners' devotion to the principles of free labor, the war produced rampant speculation and coercive labor arrangements that many Americans labeled fraudulent. Debates about this contradiction focused on employment agencies called "intelligence offices," institutions of dubious character that nevertheless served the military and domestic necessities of the Union army and Northern households. Northerners condemned ... More

Keywords: Employment agencies, Free Labor, slave emancipation, fraud, Union soldiers, Northern households, Civil War

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2020 Print ISBN-13: 9781469654324
Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2021 DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469654324.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Brian P. Luskey, author
West Virginia University