During this conversation on Immigration Reform, I figured it was appropriate to talk about another “Immigration” Issue. Great thing, this research.
• Slaves built the U.S. Capitol, cast and hoisted the statue of freedom on top of its dome, and cleared the forest between the Capitol and the White House.
• Slavery fueled the prosperity of the young nation. From 1790 to 1860 alone, the U.S. economy reaped the benefits of as much as $40 million in unpaid labor. Some estimate the current value of this unpaid labor at 1.4 trillion dollars.
• Not only did the institution of slavery result in the extinguishment of millions of Africans, it eviscerated whole cultures: languages, religions, mores, and customs, it psychologically destroyed its victims. It wrenched from them their history, their memories, and When the institution finally ended, the vestiges, racial inequalities and cultural psychic scars left a disproportionate number of American slave descendants injured and without additional help.
• Although the institution of slavery in the United States was officially outlawed in 1865, it continued, defacto, until as recently as the 1950’s. National archive records reveal that in the 1920’s and 1930’s, the NAACP still received letters from African-Americans claiming to still be on plantations and forced to work without pay. Several claims were investigated and were found to be legitimate. Moreover, as late as 1954, the Justice Department prosecuted the Dial brothers in Sumpter County, Alabama because they held Blacks in involuntary servitude.
• Hence, new measures called “Black Codes” guaranteed control of Blacks by white employers. As John Hope Franklin noted in From Slavery to Freedom: the control of blacks by white employers was about as great as that which slaveholders had exercised. Blacks who quit their job could be arrested and imprisoned for breach of contract. They were not allowed to testify in court except in cases involving members of their own race; numerous fines were imposed for seditious speeches, insulting gestures or acts, absence from work, violating curfews and the possession of firearms. There was of course no enfranchisement of Blacks and no indication that in the future they could look forward to full citizenship and participation in democracy.
• The post-Reconstruction Southern practices of peonage and sharecropping which continued well into the twentieth century were direct outgrowths of slavery that continued a system of complete control by the dominant culture. Peonage was a complex system where a Black man would be arrested for “vagrancy”, ordered to pay a fine that he could not afford, and then incarcerated. A plantation owner would then pay the fine and then hire him until he could afford to pay off the fine. The peon was forced to work, locked up at night and if he escaped, was chased by bloodhounds until recaptured.
• Likewise, during the 1920’s, fortunate Blacks became sharecroppers
on land leased from whites whose grandparents had owned their fore bearers. However they were not allowed to vote, and were socially and economically relegated to the leftovers in education, earnings, and freedoms.
Land of the Free…Home of the Brave. Think About It!!!
The Struggle Continues…RLHSR.