Kahana shows how American labor law diverged from the English common law between 1790 and 1850. It also introduces the element of contingency in the person of Lemuel Shaw, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. American labor law in this period unfolded alongside the parallel unfolding of American political history, in which Shaw emerged as bridge between two generations of Americans: the Founders and the Jacksonians. He accommodated the value of regulation that informed the Founders' worldview with the values of associational freedom that triumphed by the 1830s and 1840s. The result was a distinctly American labor law that sought to harmonize individual freedom with social responsibility.