Free Labor through Marx's Capital
This paper was written in Dr. Lora Wildenthal's history class, The History of Work (HIST 305).
Following the abolition of slavery or serfdom, wage labor became the norm for the laboring class of many nations. This article examines how capitalism and wage-labor replaced slavery and serfdom with other forms of coerced labor. The article uses the treatment of freedmen in Reconstruction-era Southern United States, Prussian ex-serfs in imperial Germany, and colonial subjects in German Togo as case studies to argue that government interference, commodification of labor and goods, and prioritization of surplus value (profit) each contributed to particularly coercive systems of wage labor.