Labor Law in America: Historical and Critical Essays

Overview

Labor history and legal history have traditionally stood as separate disciplines. But recent scholarship has suggested the benefits of an interdisciplinary approach. In Labor Law in America Christopher L. Tomlins and Andrew J. King bring together eleven leading scholars to explore more completely than any previously published work the range of labor's legal experience in America. The contributors present new findings on topics ranging from the beginnings of wage labor in colonial America to the battered ...
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Overview

Labor history and legal history have traditionally stood as separate disciplines. But recent scholarship has suggested the benefits of an interdisciplinary approach. In Labor Law in America Christopher L. Tomlins and Andrew J. King bring together eleven leading scholars to explore more completely than any previously published work the range of labor's legal experience in America. The contributors present new findings on topics ranging from the beginnings of wage labor in colonial America to the battered conditions of unions in the late twentieth century, from the stirrings of organization among journeymen in the early republic through battles over unemployment relief and labor standards in the Depression. They chart the "strange career" of master and servant law during the nineteenth century, the criminalization of vagrancy in the name of free contract, and the implications of constitutional structure and judicial ascendancy for labor strategy. They throw old interpretations into sharp relief by changing our perspectives on familiar topics - pointing out, for example, the impeccably republican reasoning behind antebellum criminal-conspiracy prosecutions or underlining the racial and gender exclusiveness of free-labor ideology. Labor Law in America amply demonstrates that labor law history is emerging as one of the most rewarding ways to understand the interaction of law, state, and society.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Integrating labor and legal history in a set of scholarly essays, this synthesis of the two disciplines presents papers from a 1990 conference on the history of American labor law. Included are 11 chapters by legal, political science, and history professors spanning American history from the Revolution to the decline of unionism after World War II. The thread of labor law history binds the essays, but each is a separate historical article treating a different subject and employing different research methods. Included are the early 19th-century Cordwainers' case, an intriguing essay on the criminalization of vagrancy in the post-Civil War North, and an excellent case study of the impact of the Danbury Hatters' case on the individuals immediately involved. The essays make a strong case for combining the two historical fields and, in turn, reveal much about the sociological, political, and economic history of labor law. A scholarly book, Labor Law in America is recommended for academic and research libraries.-- Boyd Childress, Au burn Univ. Lib., Ala.
Booknews
In revised versions of papers presented at a conference on [title], held in March 1990, 11 scholars explore the range of labor's legal experience in America, from the beginnings of wage labor in colonial America to the battered conditions of unions in the late 20th century. They also demonstrate, by-the-bye, why labor law history is emerging as one of the most rewarding ways to understand the interaction of law, state, and society. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction: Labor, Law, and History 1
1 The Philadelphia Cordwainers' Case of 1806: The Struggle over Alternative Legal Constructions of a Free Market in Labor 20
2 Courts and the Question of Class: Judicial Regulation of Labor under the Common Law Doctrine of Criminal Conspiracy 44
3 Law and Power in the Employment Relationship 71
4 Hidden Dimensions in Labor Law History: Gender Variations on the Theme of Free Labor 99
5 Beggars Can't Be Choosers: Compulsion and Contract in Postbellum America 128
6 Metaphysics and Reality in Late Nineteenth-Century Labor Adjudication 160
7 The Danbury Hatters' Case 180
8 Law and the Shaping of Labor Politics in the United States and England 201
9 The Workers' Unemployment Insurance Bill: American Social Wage, Labor Organization, and Legal Ideology 231
10 The Regulation of Homework and the Devolution of the Postwar Labor Standards Regime: Beyond Dichotomy 260
11 In the Shadow of the Law: Institutional Aspects of Postwar U.S. Union Decline 283
Bibliography 303
Contributors 343
Index 345
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