In addition to controls over wages, entry into trades, apprenticeships, indentured servitude, and black slavery, the labor contract was also subject to nonmarket controls over business enterprise in general. . . . [T]he colonial world was no hotbed of laissez-faire for labor. It was a world well described by A. E. Smith not as a democratic arcadia, but a place where men with money thrived by making the poor work. A tradition was established: "It is a familiar story that mankind, when confronted in America with a vast and trackless wilderness . . . threw off its ancient shackles of cast and privilege and set forth upon the road to freedom. Among the social institutions found most useful in the course of this march were those of African slavery and white servitude."The reference is to Abbott Emerson Smith's Colonists in Bondage: White Servitude and Convict Labor in America, 1607-1776, 1947.
Friday, February 16, 2007
From the free-market economic historian Jonathan R. T. Hughes's The Governmental Habit Redux (37):