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HirelingsAfrican American Workers and Free Labor in Early Maryland$
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Jennifer Hull Dorsey

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801447785

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801447785.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction

Jennifer Hull Dorsey

Cornell University Press

This introduction provides a historical background on the transition of African Americans who worked on the Eastern Shore of Maryland from slave labor to wage labor. It establishes a sense of place and offers a brief history of the society and economy of the Eastern Shore between settlement and the American Revolution. It discusses the role of the waterways of the Delmarva Peninsula, whose regional economy was tied to shipping and boating, in the economic and social development of the Eastern Shore from settlement to the present. It also considers how the Eastern Shore made the transition from tobacco production to mixed agriculture, along with the role played by slave labor in the trend toward agricultural diversification. Finally, it examines how Eastern Shore slaves got their first meaningful chance to escape slavery and how the integration of the Eastern Shore in the global grain market contributed to the rise of black freedom.

Keywords:   slavery, African Americans, Eastern Shore, Maryland, slave labor, wage labor, tobacco production, agriculture, grain market, freedom

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