Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2017

Thesis Advisor(s)

Christopher Clark

Honors Major



In early America, commodities played a critical role in the development of the structure of labor. Labor involved the inputs, including both physical work and organizational efforts, contributed by actors within the markets for these commodities. The goods at the center of these markets can be viewed as both the primary motivator for these inputs and the common thread that tied them together globally. This period was unique in that chains of interaction began to form not just in select locations, but internationally. The result was competition between nations and between businesses. This created a drive that manifested itself from the initial extraction of a resource, through each stage where value was added, and within the factors who arranged for the finished product to reach consumers in distant regions. The outcome was a transition from localized, or even nation-driven, labor cultures towards a new kind of modern labor in tune with world systems. While the complexity of this system precludes one from defining this economic evolution by the influence of any one determining factor, at the root of this transition was the commodity and the power of the demand it generated worldwide.