Blackmon 2009

From Whiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Blackmon, Douglas. Slavery by Another Name: The Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. New York: Random House, 2009.

“A provocative question: What would be revealed if American corporations were examined through the same sharp lens of historical confrontation as the one then being trained on German corporations that relied on Jewish slave labor during World War II and the Swiss banks that robbed victims of the Holocaust of their fortunes?”

On why history has under appreciated the impact of forced labor on black men after the civil war:

“I was also troubled by the sensibility in much of the convention history of the era that these events were somehow inevitable. White animosity toward blacks was accepted as a wrong but logical extension of antebellum racial views. Events were presented as having transpired as a result of large — seemingly unavoidable — social and anthropological shifts, rather than the specific decisions and choice of individuals. What’s more, African Americans were portrayed by most historians as an almost static component of US society. Their leaders changed with each generation, but the mass of black Americans were depicted as if the freed slaves of 1863 were the same people still not free fifty years later.”

“Altogether, millions of mostly obscure entries in the public record offer details of a. Forced labor system of monotonous enormity.”

“Repeatedly, the timing and scale of surges in arrests appeared more attuned to rises and dips in the need for cheap labor than any demonstrable acts of crime.”

“By 1900, the South’s judicial system had been wholly reconfigured to make one of its primary purposes the coercion of African Americans to comply with the social customs and labor demands of whites.”

“The same men who built railroads with thousands of slaves and proselytized for the use of slaves in southern factories and mines in the 1850s were also the first to employ forced African American labor in the 1870s.”

The Wedding: Fruits of Freedom

An Industrial Slavery

By the civil War railroads owned 20k people

“With the southern economy in ruins, state officials limited to the barest resources, and county governments with even fewer, the concept of reintroducing the forced labor of blacks as a means of funding government services was viewed by whites as an inherently practical method of eliminating the cost of building prisons and returning blacks to their appropriate position in society.”

“County sheriffs and judges had dabbled with leasing black convicts out to local farmers, or to contractors under hire to repair roads and bridges, beginning almost immediately after the Civil War. But as the state turned ever larger blocs of African Americans over to private companies, an organized market for prisoners began to evolve. Soon, labor agents for the mining and timber companies were scouring the countryside to make arrangements for acquiring able-bodied black laborers-_just as John Tillman had done to locate slaves for the Shelby Iron Works during the war, just as Rev. Starr's son was doing when Scip Cottinham was leased to the Brierfield furnaces in the 1860s. Instead of slave owners, the men who now controlled squads of black laborers available to the highest bidder were sheriffs.”

“In counties where large numbers of convicts were sold to the mining companies, such as Jefferson County, where Birmingham was located, a speculative trade in convict contracts developed. The witnesses and public officials who were owed portions of the lease payments earned by the convicts received paper receipts- usually called scrips-from the county that could be redeemed only after a convict had generated enough money to pay them off. Rather than wait for the full amount, holders of the scrips would sell their notes for cash to speculators at a lower than face amount. In return, the buyers were to receive the full lease payments-profiting handsomely on those convicts who survived, losing money on the short-lived. In Jefferson County, the financial arrangements on each convict were recorded in ledger books showing earnings due to each official and then a subsequent calculation of the final rate of return on each prisoner after his release, escape, or death.”