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View Diary: A legal artifact of slavery (96 comments)

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  •  Nice observation (27+ / 0-)
    But for me it is the mundane detail that shows more.
    The research in Slavery by another name: The Re-Enslavement of Black People in America from the Civil War to World War II. Is full of those mundane scraps of paper found in archives.
    The Age of Neo-Slavery

    In this groundbreaking historical expose, Douglas A. Blackmon brings to light one of the most shameful chapters in American history—when a cynical new form of slavery was resurrected from the ashes of the Civil War and re-imposed on hundreds of thousands of African-Americans until the dawn of World War II.

    Under laws enacted specifically to intimidate blacks, tens of thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily arrested, hit with outrageous fines, and charged for the costs of their own arrests. With no means to pay these ostensible “debts,” prisoners were sold as forced laborers to coal mines, lumber camps, brickyards, railroads, quarries and farm plantations. Thousands of other African Americans were simply seized by southern landowners and compelled into years of involuntary servitude. Government officials leased falsely imprisoned blacks to small-town entrepreneurs, provincial farmers, and dozens of corporations—including U.S. Steel Corp.—looking for cheap and abundant labor. Armies of "free" black men labored without compensation, were repeatedly bought and sold, and were forced through beatings and physical torture to do the bidding of white masters for decades after the official abolition of American slavery.

    The neoslavery system exploited legal loopholes and federal policies which discouraged prosecution of whites for continuing to hold black workers against their wills. As it poured millions of dollars into southern government treasuries, the new slavery also became a key instrument in the terrorization of African Americans seeking full participation in the U.S. political system.

    Based on a vast record of original documents and personal narratives, SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME unearths the lost stories of slaves and their descendants who journeyed into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation and then back into the shadow of involuntary servitude. It also reveals the stories of those who fought unsuccessfully against the re-emergence of hum

    The hardest book I have ever tried to read. I can only read about half a chapter before wanting to puke. But I've wanted to read it since it came out because of the truth it tells.

    White-collar conservatives flashing down the street, pointing their plastic finger at me..

    by BOHICA on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 07:33:27 AM PST

    •  Yes, that era has been ignored for too long. (7+ / 0-)

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 07:38:12 AM PST

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    •  Thanks for the information, I think (6+ / 0-)

      re construction was a disaster, thanks to Lincoln's assassination, among other things, I think perhaps the south is finally losing re construction now, thanks to President Obama, among other things!

      "But Brandine, you're supposed to be in Iraq stopping 911!"

      by leftyguitarist on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 07:38:34 AM PST

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    •  BOHICA: bear in mind the same system also (8+ / 0-)

      got used, and still does, to create "prison labor" throughout the US.

      Not everybody on a chain gang was black, for instance.

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 04:15:31 PM PST

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      •  But I believe most were (0+ / 0-)

        and certainly, the number of black prisoners was extraordinarily disproportionate to their population. That's something that hasn't changed, but perhaps it was even worse during the days of Jim Crow.

        Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

        by MichaelNY on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 01:36:25 AM PST

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        •  Possibly dependent on the states involved (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MichaelNY

          I seem to recall that the "road gangs" I sometimes saw in Texas, Oklahoma, or Missouri in my childhood had as many, if not more, Latino-looking workers as black. Whites were not absent, either.

          LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

          by BlackSheep1 on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 11:42:14 AM PST

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    •  I didn't know about this (0+ / 0-)

      So it was worse than shunting former slaves into sharecropping and low-paid labor and enslaving people who were arrested for vagrancy and public drunkenness in chain gangs.

      Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

      by MichaelNY on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 01:34:00 AM PST

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      •  Wiki has a brief entry on (4+ / 0-)

        Convict leasing

        Convict leasing was a system of penal labor practiced in the Southern United States, beginning with the emancipation of slaves at the end of the American Civil War in 1865, peaking around 1880, and officially ending in the last state, Alabama, in 1928. It persisted in various forms until World War II.
        The writer Douglas A. Blackmon described the system:

            "It was a form of bondage distinctly different from that of the antebellum South in that for most men, and the relatively few women drawn in, this slavery did not last a lifetime and did not automatically extend from one generation to the next. But it was nonetheless slavery – a system in which armies of free men, guilty of no crimes and entitled by law to freedom, were compelled to labor without compensation, were repeatedly bought and sold, and were forced to do the bidding of white masters through the regular application of extraordinary physical coercion.

        It built the southern industrial base. At one time the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company was the second largest steel producer in the USA. It merged with US Steel in 1907. They used thousands of "leased" convicts in their mines and factories. Many died through beatings, malnutrition and disease.

        White-collar conservatives flashing down the street, pointing their plastic finger at me..

        by BOHICA on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 03:42:01 AM PST

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