In this Book

  • Reconsidering Southern Labor History: Race, Class, and Power
  • Book
  • Edited by Matthew Hild and Keri Leigh Merritt
  • 2018
  • Published by: University Press of Florida
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United Association for Labor Education Best Book Award

The American Dream of reaching success through sheer sweat and determination rings false for countless members of the working classes. This volume shows that many of the difficulties facing workers today have deep roots in the history of the exploitation of labor in the South. Contributors make the case that the problems that have long beset southern labor, including the legacy of slavery, low wages, lack of collective bargaining rights, and repression of organized unions, have become the problems of workers across the country.

Spanning nearly all of U.S. history, the essays in this collection range from West Virginia to Florida to Texas. They examine vagrancy laws in the early republic, inmate labor at state penitentiaries, mine workers and union membership, and strikes and the often-violent strikebreaking that followed. They also look at pesticide exposure among farmworkers, labor activism during the civil rights movement, and foreign-owned auto factories in the rural South. They distinguish between different struggles experienced by women and men, as well as by African American, Latino, and white workers.

The broad chronological sweep and comprehensive nature of Reconsidering Southern Labor History set this volume apart from any other collection on the topic in the past forty years. Presenting the latest trends in the study of the working-class South by a new generation of scholars, this volume is a surprising revelation of the historical forces behind the labor inequalities inherent today.

Contributors: David M. Anderson | Deborah Beckel | Thomas Brown | Dana M. Caldemeyer | Adam Carson | Theresa Case | Erin L. Conlin | Brett J. Derbes | Maria Angela Diaz | Alan Draper | Matthew Hild | Joseph E. Hower | T.R.C. Hutton | Stuart MacKay | Andrew C. McKevitt | Keri Leigh Merritt | Bethany Moreton | Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan | Michael Sistrom | Joseph M. Thompson | Linda Tvrdy

Table of Contents

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  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright
  2. pp. i-iv
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. v-viii
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Introduction
  2. Matthew Hild and Keri Leigh Merritt
  3. pp. 1-16
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  1. Section 1. The Early Republic and the Old South
  2. pp. 17-18
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  1. 1. Origins of the Charleston Mechanic Society: White Labor Activism and Slave Competition in Charleston, South Carolina, in the Early National Era
  2. Thomas Brown
  3. pp. 19-31
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  1. 2. “Vagrant Negroes”: The Policing of Labor and Mobility in the Upper South in the Early Republic
  2. Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan
  3. pp. 32-46
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  1. 3. Origins of the Prison-Industrial Complex: Inmate Labor in the Deep South, 1817–1865
  2. Brett J. Derbes
  3. pp. 47-62
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  1. 4. To Carry That Burden: The Texas Cart War and the Place of Mexican Laborers in the Southern Landscape, 1854–1857
  2. Maria Angela Diaz
  3. pp. 63-78
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  1. Section 2. Reconstruction and the Gilded Age
  1. 5. The Promise of Free Labor: Carl Schurz and Republican Conceptions of Labor within the Reconstruction South
  2. Stuart MacKay
  3. pp. 81-95
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  1. 6. Haskins v. Royster and the Liberty to Be Unfree: Reconstructing North Carolina Labor Law
  2. Linda A. Tvrdy
  3. pp. 96-111
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  1. 7. Unfaithful Followers: Rethinking Southern Nonunionism in the Late Nineteenth Century
  2. Dana M. Caldemeyer
  3. pp. 112-125
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  1. 8. Southern Labor and the Lure of Populism: Workers and Power in North Carolina
  2. Deborah Beckel
  3. pp. 126-141
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  1. 9. The Appalachian “Gunmen of Capitalism”
  2. T.R.C. Hutton
  3. pp. 142-156
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  1. Section 3. The Twentieth Century and Civil Rights
  1. 10. Rooted: Black Railroad Shopmen, the 1922 Strike, and Southern Civil Rights Struggles
  2. Theresa A. Case
  3. pp. 159-173
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  1. 11. African American and Latino Workers in the Age of Industrial Agriculture
  2. Erin L. Conlin
  3. pp. 174-190
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  1. 12. The Freedom Labor Union: Economic Justice and the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi
  2. Michael Sistrom
  3. pp. 191-204
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  1. 13. “A Threshold Moment”: Public-Sector Organizing and Civil Rights Unionism in the Postwar South
  2. Joseph E. Hower
  3. pp. 205-220
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  1. Section 4. The Modern South
  1. 14. Pens, Planes, and Politics: How Race and Labor Practices Shaped Postwar Atlanta
  2. Joseph M. Thompson
  3. pp. 223-238
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  1. 15. Beyond Boosterism: Fort Smith and the Creation of a Conservative Economic Culture
  2. Adam Carson
  3. pp. 239-254
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  1. 16. From “the Chosen” to the Precariat: Southern Workers in Foreign-Owned Factories since the 1980s
  2. David M. Anderson and Andrew C. McKevitt
  3. pp. 255-270
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  1. Section 5. Concluding Thoughts
  1. 17. The Historiographies of the Labor and Civil Rights Movements: At the Intersection of Parallel Lines
  2. Alan Draper
  3. pp. 273-284
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  1. 18. So Goes the Nation: Southern Antecedents and the Future of Work
  2. Bethany Moreton
  3. pp. 285-293
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  1. 19. Why Labor History Still Matters
  2. Matthew Hild and Keri Leigh Merritt
  3. pp. 294-300
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  1. List of Contributors
  2. pp. 301-302
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 303-308
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