From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Foreign Labor

At the close of the Civil War, Kentucky and other southern states were faced with a labor shortage. The slaves were free and labor stabilization was an ongoing issue. Plantation owners across the south led the movement to bring in foreign labor, claiming it was necessary because paying wages for Negro labor had made the Negro prone to laziness and unreliability. Foreign laborers were sought from the north, Europe, and China. Approximately 3,500 persons, including a small contingency of Chinese immigrants, came to Kentucky, most settling in Louisville. It was not nearly enough to address the labor shortage, however. For more information see A History of Kentucky, by T. D. Clark; and R. T. Birthoff, "Southern Attitudes Toward Immigration, 1865-1914," The Journal of Southern History, vol. 17 (Aug. 1951), pp. 328-360.




Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: A History of Kentucky
NKAA Source: The Journal of southern history (periodical)

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Foreign Labor,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed October 30, 2020,

Last modified: 2017-07-19 17:51:22