The Unfolding of American Labor Law: Judges, Workers, and Public Policy across Two Political Generations, 1790-1850

By Jeffrey Steven Kahana | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
Conspiracy, Associations, and the
Public Interest

No Man, nor corporation, or association of men, have
any other title to obtain advantages, or particular and ex-
clusive privileges, distinct from those of the community,
than what arises from the consideration of services ren-
dered to the public.

—Massachusetts Constitution, Article VI (1780)

The republican repudiation of the master-servant designation reflected the growing divide between American and English law. The body of law that emerged to regulate the workplace demonstrated a new equality within the employment relationship, while also addressing the interests of the community. The conditions and circumstances of American life, rather than the tradition of the common law, proved to be the leading factors in the development of labor regulations. These same factors imparted an American meaning to the common law crime of labor conspiracy.


Conspiracy

The American belief in conspiracies of various kinds has long troubled historians. Political parties, private corporations, social movements, religious minorities, and even sectional interests

-69-

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