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2006

Roger Williams University

Forced labor in the maritime industry

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Fugitive Slaves And Ship-Jumping Sailors: The Enforcement And Survival Of Coerced Labor, Jonathan M. Gutoff Jan 2006

Fugitive Slaves And Ship-Jumping Sailors: The Enforcement And Survival Of Coerced Labor, Jonathan M. Gutoff

Law Faculty Scholarship

This article explores the relationship between the law of maritime labor and the law of slavery. In the eighteenth century, both sailors and slaves were part of a broad regime of unfree labor relations, with slaves, of course, the most oppressed. In the nineteenth century, an era otherwise supposedly devoted to the ideal of "free" labor, sailors and slaves instead remained unfree, subject to federal laws providing for the forced return to their toils if they deserted - the Merchant Seaman's Act and the Fugitive Slave Act. Both of those statutes were deemed to be within Congress' authority, despite questionable ...