Michael Thompson, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Center for American History and Culture Programs
Labor History Seminar
Friday, February 22, 2013

3 pm to 5 pm

“’This very troublesome business’: The Struggle for Control of Charleston’s Waterfront Workforce”
Michael Thompson
, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Laboring on an urban waterfront had its advantages, even for the enslaved. Situated on the western rim of the Atlantic World, slaves toiling on Charleston’s antebellum wharves daily were subject to outside influences and presented with remarkable opportunities and enticements. State and municipal authorities responded by continuously passing laws and ordinances that endeavored to subjugate the port’s most vital yet latently seditious labor force. Such regulatory efforts—ranging from slave badges and prescribed hiring stands to fixed wages and even the censuring of work songs—provoked an incessant struggle for control over dock workers’ movements, communications, labor, and lives.

Commentators: Dylan Penningroth, Northwestern University and James Schmidt, Northern Illinois University

Cost and registration information: 

Scholl Center Seminar papers are pre-circulated electronically.  For a copy of the paper, e-mail the Scholl Center at scholl@newberry.org.  Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.