Read Slavery by Another Name Online

Authors: Douglas A. Blackmon

Slavery by Another Name

BOOK: Slavery by Another Name
5.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Praise for Douglas A. Blackmon's

S L A V E R Y

BY ANOTHER NAME

"Vividly and engagingly recalls the horror and sheer magnitude

of…neo- slavery and reminds us how long after emancipation

such practices per sisted…. Provides insights on how we might

regard the legacy of slavery, reparations, and perhaps even our

justice and correctional system, with echoes for our own time."

—The Boston Globe

"A terri c journalist and gifted writer, Blackmon is fearless in

going wher ever the research leads him."

—Atlanta Magazine

"Personalizing the larger story through individual experiences,

Blackmon's book opens the eyes and wrenches the gut."

—Rocky Mountain News

"For those who think the conversation about race or exploitation

in Amer ica is over, they should read Douglas Blackmon's

cautionary tale, Slavery by Another Name. It is at once

provocative and thought-provoking, sobering and heartrending."

—-Jay Winik, author of The Great Upheaval:

America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800

"A powerful and eye-opening account of a crucial but

unremembered chapter of American history. Blackmon's

magni cent research paints a devastating picture of the ugly and

outrageous practices that kept tens of thousands of Black

Americans enslaved until the onset of World War II. Slavery by

Another Name is a passionate, highly impressive and hugely

important book."

—David J. Garrow, author of

Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr.

and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference

"Wall Street Journal Bureau Chief Blackmon gives a

groundbreaking and dis turbing account of a sordid chapter in

American history—the lease (essen tially the sale) of convicts to

‘commercial interests’ between the end of the nineteenth century

and well into the twentieth."

—Publishers Weekly

DOUGLAS A. BLACKMON

S L A V E R Y

BY ANOTHER NAME

Douglas A. Blackmon is the Atlanta Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal. He

has written extensively on race, the economy, and American society. Reared in

the Mississippi Delta, he lives in downtown Atlanta with his wife and children.

www.slaverybyanothername.com

To Michelle, Michael,

and Colette

Slavery:…that slow Poison, which is daily contaminating the

Minds & Morals of our People. Every Gentlemen here is born a petty

Tyrant. Practiced in Acts of Despotism & Cruelty, we become callous to

the Dictates of Humanity, & all the finer feelings of the Soul. Taught

to regard a part of our own Species in the most abject & contemptible

Degree below us, we lose that Idea of the dignity of Man which the

Hand of Nature had implanted in us, for great & useful purposes.

GEORGE MASON, JULY 1773

VIRGINIA CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

CONTENTS

A Note on Language

Introduction: The Bricks We Stand On

PART ONE: THE SLOW POISON

I. THE WEDDING

Fruits of Freedom

I . AN INDUSTRIAL SLAVERY

"Niggers is cheap."

I I. SLAVERY’S INCREASE

"Day after day we looked Death in the face & was afraid to speak."

IV. GREEN COTTENHAM’S WORLD

"The negro dies faster."

PART TWO: HARVEST OF AN UNFINISHED WAR

V. THE SLAVE FARM OF JOHN PACE

"I don't owe you anything."

VI. SLAVERY IS NOT A CRIME

"We shal have to kil a thousand…

to get them back to their places."

VI . THE INDICTMENTS

"I was whipped nearly every day."

VI I. A SUMMER OF TRIALS, 1903

"The master treated the slave unmerciful y."

IX. A RIVER OF ANGER

The South Is "an armed camp."

X. THE DISAPPROBATION OF GOD

"It is a very rare thing that a negro escapes."

XI. SLAVERY AFFIRMED

"Cheap cot on depends on cheap niggers."

"Cheap cot on depends on cheap niggers."

XI . NEW SOUTH RISING

"This great corporation."

PART THREE: THE FINAL CHAPTER OF AMERICAN SLAVERY

XI I. THE ARREST OF GREEN COTTENHAM

A War of Atrocities

XIV. ANATOMY OF A SLAVE MINE

"Degraded to a plane lower than the brutes."

XV. EVERYWHERE WAS DEATH

"Negro Quietly Swung Up by an Armed Mob …Al is quiet."

XVI. ATLANTA, THE SOUTH’S FINEST CITY

"I wil murder you if you don't do that work."

XVI . FREEDOM

"In the United States one cannot sel himself."

EPILOGUE
The Ephemera of Catastrophe

Acknowledgments

Notes

Selected Bibliography

A NOTE ON

LANGUAGE

Periodically throughout this book, there are quotations from individuals who

used o ensive racial labels. I chose not to sanitize these historical statements

but to present the authentic language of the period, whenever documented

direct statements are available. I regret any o ense or hurt caused by these

crude idioms.

INTRODUCTION
The Bricks We Stand On

On March 30, 1908, Green Cottenham was arrested by the sheri of Shelby

County, Alabama, and charged with "vagrancy"1

Cottenham had committed no true crime. Vagrancy the o ense of a

person not being able to prove at a given moment that he or she is employed,

was a new and flimsy concoction dredged up from legal obscurity at the end of

the nineteenth century by the state legislatures of Alabama and other southern

states. It was capriciously enforced by local sheri s and constables,

adjudicated by mayors and notaries public, recorded haphazardly or not at all

in court records, and, most tellingly in a time of massive unemployment among

all southern men, was reserved almost exclusively for black men. Cottenham's

offense was blackness.

After three days behind bars, twenty-two-year-old Cottenham was found

guilty in a swift appearance before the county judge and immediately

sentenced to a thirty-day term of hard labor. Unable to pay the array of fees

assessed on every prisoner—fees to the sheri , the deputy, the court clerk, the

witnesses—Cottenham's sentence was extended to nearly a year of hard labor.

The next day, Cottenham, the youngest of nine children born to former

slaves in an adjoining county, was sold. Under a standing arrangement between

the county and a vast subsidiary of the industrial titan of the North—U.S. Steel

Corporation—the sheri turned the young man over to the company for the

duration of his sentence. In return, the subsidiary, Tennessee Coal, Iron &

Railroad Company, gave the county $12 a month to pay o Cottenham's ne

BOOK: Slavery by Another Name
5.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Prairie Storm by Catherine Palmer
Be Careful What You Wish For by Alexandra Potter
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Beautiful Music by Lammers, Kathlyn
Fourth-Grade Disasters by Claudia Mills
A Dragon at Worlds' End by Christopher Rowley
Cadenas rotas by Clayton Emery