Term Paper: Concept of Free Labor

Pages: 5 (1452 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Sociology  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … Free Labor

The majority of people that settled in America were of Catholic Protestant origin. The protestant ethics that each man was destined to work to his 'calling', the divine aspect of his/her occupation. The Republicans fervidly rallied for the cause of free labor. There existed a visibly significant divide in the lives and customs of Northern and Southern states of America, former being composed of free and enterprising populations whereas latter formed the major share of slave societies. The abolition of slavery, as was practiced in the southern part of America during 1800s, was the main aspect of a free enterprising society. In the backdrop of such diverse social structures and practices in Northern and Southern parts, the concept of 'free labor' got its bulk of explanations coming from Republicans. Before explaining Republican concept of free labor, it is imperative as to what was meant by the term 'labor' by the Republicans and how it differed from modern day concept of labor. Labor was a broad concept in context of Republican political ideologyinspired by Daniel Webster, one that included all those who produced goods materials, and small business man. Thus, "free labor for Republicans was expanding, competitive and enterprising society" (Foner, 14). The Republican concept of free labor was related to the ability of men and women to freely participate in the economic life and be the masters of their own fate.

Having discussed the general concept of free labor that is referred by the Republican context, following are the main parts included in this paper. Section II will describe that according to the Republican Party, why was the concept of free labor the key to a good society? Section III will highlight that how southern slave society contradicted Republican's ideal notions of a free labor social order? Part IV will conclude the paper will restatement of the central thesis of this paper.

Free Labor: Key concept to a good society

The republican concept of free labor was significantly circulated by the congressmen and other political leaders that represented Republican part. Labor was regarded as any productive vocation or occupation that resulted in gaining wealth and social recognition. The essential element of the concept professed by Republican men was that no distinction between laboring class and middle class exists. They agreed with Webster that the farmer, the small businessman, the independent craftsman were all laborers. Thus, Republicans included vast number of professions and productive men earning their livings as the laborers. Labor was described as literal term and not to represent only the people working as wage earners.

Social mobility

The main aspect that Republicans kept repeating in their political speeches and during the election campaign during 1850s was that free labor is the opportunity of social mobility and economic growth in the Northern society where people are free to choose the profession they like. The effort that people put in for earning money was highly regarded as being pursuit of goodness. Being enterprising and striving for improving one's material aspects is far important in the free labor society of Republicans. The ability of people to make their lives better through effort and persistence was highly regarded as essential elements of free society where destination of people remained in their own hands rather than to chance or fate. It is observed that the capitalist society of the ante-bellum north was expansively promoted by Republicans in their political as well as intellectual quarters. Main politicians such as Abraham Lincoln, Henry Wilson, Nathaniel P. Banks, and Hannibal Hamlin were humblest of starters in their lives before coming into the political limelight. The toil of Abraham Lincoln in getting out of poverty and to sustain himself as a successful business and family man was extensively praised, similarly the efforts, out by other Republicans to strive in their personal lives for greater achievements, economically as well as socially, were also boasted about in the public meetings. This was aimed at inspiring confidence in the ante-bellum northern style of commerce and society whereby each individual strived to gain most for him/her and the family. It was thus projected that individual assumed the greatest importance in improving life and liberty of men and not any government. Similarly, the intellectual quarters of Republicans were represented by leading newspapers and magazines such as New York Times, Tribune and Springfield republican, and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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