Initial Northern Views: The Free Market and Abolitionism

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During the Antebellum period, the Northern economy had shifted from being dependent upon foreign imports and exports to being an independent state of productivity during the industrial period.
  • American men and women, as well as immigrants, left their lives on farms in order to live a better, freer life working as a free laborer for the many factory owners that now inhabited the North
  • Fierce competition for jobs and for supplying cheap goods led to low wages, long hours, and poor working conditions
  • Left many free laborers in an inequality where factory owners exhibited hierarchical power over them
  • Any additional work that might have lowered job competition was lost to slaves working Americans' plantations in the South and West  
  • Many Northerners began supporting abolitionism to stop the spread of slavery
  • While some wanted to abolish slavery for moral reasons, the majority of abolitionists wanted to free up the job market

Orestes Brownson, Northern Free Laborer
"All over the world this fact stares us in the face, the workingman is poor and depressed, while a large portion of the non-workingmen, in the sense we now use the term, are wealthy.  It may be laid down as a general rule, with but few exceptions, that men are rewarded in an inverse ratio to the amount of actual service they perform.  Under every government on earth the largest salaries are annexed to those offices, which demand of their incumbents the least amount of actual labor either mental or manual.  And this is in perfect harmony with the whole system of repartition of the fruits of industry, which obtain in every department of society.  Now here is the system which prevails, and here is the result.  The whole class of simple laborers are poor, and in general unable to procure anything beyond the bare necessaries of life..."

- Orestes Brownson, "The Laboring Classes"

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