In 1821, Spain formally recognized Mexico's status as an independent nation. The establishment of Mexican sovereignty resulted in a tumultuous period of national definition. While seeking to create a new, modern, and profitable nation, Mexico needed to find a way to address the chronic labor problems that had plagued the former colony since its formation. Interdisciplinary research at the Hacienda San Miguel Acocotla and in its associated descendant communities offers a case study of some of the tactics that may have been used to control agrarian workers during the century that followed. Ethnohistoric, archaeological, and ethnographic data speak to the ongoing and ever-tense labor negotiations of the nascent state. Documentary records from the municipal archives in Atlixco, Puebla, Mexico show early attempts by hacienda owners to violently coerce labor services from neighboring indigenous villages. Archaeological and ethnographic data speak to a later shift into a subtler coercive method of labor management, with attacks on the structures of home life, family, and community.