Scraping By: Wage Labor, Slavery, And Survival In Early Baltimore by Seth RockmanScraping By: Wage Labor, Slavery, And Survival In Early Baltimore by Seth Rockman

Scraping By: Wage Labor, Slavery, And Survival In Early Baltimore

bySeth Rockman

Paperback | December 19, 2008

Pricing and Purchase Info

$36.82 online 
$38.95 list price save 5%
Earn 184 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


Enslaved mariners, white seamstresses, Irish dockhands, free black domestic servants, and native-born street sweepers all navigated the low-end labor market in post-Revolutionary Baltimore. Seth Rockman considers this diverse workforce, exploring how race, sex, nativity, and legal status determined the economic opportunities and vulnerabilities of working families in the early republic.

In the era of Frederick Douglass, Baltimore's distinctive economy featured many slaves who earned wages and white workers who performed backbreaking labor. By focusing his study on this boomtown, Rockman reassesses the roles of race and region and rewrites the history of class and capitalism in the United States during this time.

Rockman describes the material experiences of low-wage workers-how they found work, translated labor into food, fuel, and rent, and navigated underground economies and social welfare systems. He also explores what happened if they failed to find work or lost their jobs. Rockman argues that the American working class emerged from the everyday struggles of these low-wage workers. Their labor was indispensable to the early republic's market revolution, and it was central to the transformation of the United States into the wealthiest society in the Western world.

Rockman's research includes construction site payrolls, employment advertisements, almshouse records, court petitions, and the nation's first "living wage" campaign. These rich accounts of day laborers and domestic servants illuminate the history of early republic capitalism and its consequences for working families.

Seth Rockman is an assistant professor of history at Brown University and author of Welfare Reform in the Early Republic.
Title:Scraping By: Wage Labor, Slavery, And Survival In Early BaltimoreFormat:PaperbackDimensions:392 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.94 inPublished:December 19, 2008Publisher:Johns Hopkins University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801890071

ISBN - 13:9780801890079

Look for similar items by category:


Editorial Reviews

Graceful, engaging work.

A creative treatment of an intriguing and important topic... The effort to make slavery history a part of labor history, and vice versa, is commendable, effective, and overdue.