The definition of free labor ideology is the belief that labor should result in independence and wealth distribution. Free labor ideology is a term used to refer to the differences between the Northern and Southern economies during the nineteenth century. A common misconception is that free labor ideology refers to the economy of the South at that time. However, the term refers to the economic opportunities in the North during that period.
Free labor became the foundation of Republican ideology in the middle of the nineteenth century. At that time, the term laborer was first being introduced to define a variety of workers. Essentially, a laborer was anyone who worked for himself as opposed to working for another person's profit. A popular belief regarding free labor ideology during this time was that this system of labor would lead to greater wealth distribution.
Many northerners looked at the slave labor of the South as inferior to the free labor system. Many politicians in the North believed that slave labor would ultimately undermine free labor by restricting the distribution of wealth. The defined class status dividing slaves and slave owners was also in opposition to free labor ideology. Free labor ideology includes the belief in eliminating class status so that all laborers share equal wealth.