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Brokering ServitudeMigration and the Politics of Domestic Labor during the Long Nineteenth Century$
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Andrew Urban

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780814785843

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814785843.001.0001

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Liberating Free Labor

Liberating Free Labor

Vere Foster and Assisted Irish Emigration, 1850–1865

(p.29) 1 Liberating Free Labor
Brokering Servitude

Andrew Urban

NYU Press

Chapter 1 follows the enterprising activities of Vere Foster, a member of the Anglo-Irish gentry who funded the emigration of approximately 1,250 Irish women from post-famine Ireland during the 1850s. Foster’s efforts serve as a case study that illuminates the ideologies of white settlerism and Anglophone imperial unity, and shows how they worked together in concert. Foster was convinced that the best way to govern rural Ireland’s surplus population and inadequate lands was to finance and coordinate the integration of young migrant women into wage labor positions as servants in the United States, in areas of the country where the supply of white female workers was scarce. In order to assuage concerns about the moral and sexual dangers that free markets and migration posed to young Irish women, Foster endeavored to establish transatlantic networks of migration rooted in what he presented as racial and familial values of protection and mutuality. As this chapter concludes, the Irish migrants Foster sponsored developed different interpretations of what it meant to work for wages in household service, and what the commodification of their labor signified to both Ireland and the United States.

Keywords:   white settlerism, Anglo-Irish gentry, imperial unity, assisted emigration, Irish nationalism, wage labor

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