Jeffrey's Reviews > Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II

Slavery by Another Name by Douglas A. Blackmon
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Jan 12, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: history

I will admit that I was a bit hesitant at first with this book. It seems there has been quite a few books come to my desk that are a bit brutal about the South in particular and the US in general. I was half expecting this to be another of the countless books that wish to heap blame on the south and want to further stir racial resentments for the author’s economic gain. I am so pleased to say that I did not find that to be the case with this book. Rather, I found a very interesting story that needed to be told, something that is never mentioned in schools or by our grandparents.

After the War of Northern Aggression, a defeated South was further victimized by the Carpet baggers that sought complete humiliation of the defeated. These people looked to entirely recreate the social order. Whites were no longer to be alone at the top. With the right to vote and loans ensuring their ability to buy land, former slaves were advancing further than many thought possible. Yet, that came to a screeching halt even before the end of Reconstruction. The old South’s ways would not go so easily. The White’s started using the power of contracts to reclaim their former slaves. Offering extremely unfair contracts that reasserted the old hierarchy, the South was able to impede the rise of the African Americans.

Slavery by Another Name is a tragic tale of the enforce slavery of African-Americans through the legal system. It seems that Blacks were arrested for the pettiest of crimes and then given outrageous sentences. The counties and states then leased the prisoners to industry that worked these people to death in some cases. The book follows one family and shows just how much was changed from the civil war to World War II. Prisoners were used to created foundries and to mine iron in Alabama. They were used on the railroads and other public works projects.

Slavery By Another Name should be required reading for everyone, showing the evil aspects of a government that does not value the freedom of the individual and the ultimate tragedy in an obtrusive government that is aided by the segments that benefit from the behemoth government.
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January 12, 2009 – Shelved
January 12, 2009 – Shelved as: history
January 12, 2009 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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Anchower I'm pleasantly surprised that you, whom I take to be a white Southerner, got something out of this book. But you do realize that, while Southern governments were, indeed, parties to the re-enslavement of blacks after the Civil War (a.k.a., the War to Preserve the Union and Prevent the Expansion of Slavery into the Territories), those governments were anything but "behemoth." In fact, they were extremely small, weak, and poor, and were really nothing more than the instruments of the white planters and industrialists who did the actual re-enslaving. So your knee-jerk antigovernment potshot holds no water (how's that for mixing metaphors!).

Rather, the blame for re-enslavement lies not with government, but with the twin "behemoths" of white supremacy and laissez-faire (or, more accurately, anarchic) capitalism. (In fact, as you really ought to have noted while reading the book, the federal government's prosecution of peon masters around the turn of the twentieth century provided the only (albeit scant and fleeting) relief post-Thirteenth Amendment slaves had until after World War II.)

message 2: by Ron (new) - added it

Ron Yeah, I don't get the "big government" message either. Most of these schemes were perpetrated by a small circle of friends and relatives. The local government often consisted of a single wealthy businessman who became justice of the peace by default, and who was subject to little or no supervision or review.

Katie "The War of Northern Aggression"? Seriously?

message 4: by Debora (new)

Debora Weksler I have yet to read this book. I these historical outcome of the emancipation proclamation and end of the civil war to be direct consequence of Lincoln not having any plans or shared information the Vic president before he was assassinated. As to the anti-government comment. It seems Southerners will always blame the north and vice versa. In this case the north re-instated the post confederate government. It is too difficult for us to believe that we were all a part of this perpetuation of forced servitude. The northerners were more bent on humiliating the Southerners than righting the wrongs of slavery. Like it or not, industry, government and people make up countries. It patriotic to find fault with any part of our great nation in order to ensure that the future is greater than the past. The north punished the southern while society and the southern whites took out their hatred and humiliation on blacks. This was the people's, the government and the industries fault. The government for the people, by the people... I wounded if these views of mine will change after reading this book?

Helen Harberts Jeffrey: you need to read it again. You missed the point.

Kaveri What Anchower said.

Kaveri Also, Jeffrey, if you check out Blackmon's blog (among other sources) you'll find a convincing argument that leaving southern blacks out of the New Deal, which poor white southerners benefited from immensely, was the next chapter of white domination. so, MORE government intervention, not less, was called for.

Kaveri Debora, perhaps your views on Reconstruction and the civil war will change after you read this book, simply bc it shows the die-hard commitment of many white southerners to preserve slavery and white supremacy, but the book is not primarily about the questions you raise---perhaps you should read some books on Reconstruction, which modern historians do not view as you do, though your view is widespread in popular consciousness. As a recent article on how the Park Service teaches the public about Reconstruction states, "“There may not be any field of history where the gap between what historians know and what people believe is as vast,”

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