In Did You Know #1, I shared that all slavery was not abolished by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. In fact, it was not fully abolished until 1942 when it was ended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Convict leasing was practiced primarily in the South and peaked in 1880, but was still being practiced in various forms until it was formally abolished. In this system, persons convicted of a crime were leased to landowners or private companies to work in plantations, mines on railroads, for logging etc. Even a conviction for vagrancy would land you into the convict leasing system. As stated in Did You Know #1,a white person could ask a black man walking on the street if he had a money in his pocket. If the answer was no, they would report him for vagrancy and the white person would be paid a fee for finding an able-bodied man for the convict leasing system. The system of paying these fees encouraged further abuses. If a white man asked if you had money in your pocket and you did, he would take your money and then ask the question again. This time, you had none and were reported by that man for vagrancy.
Want to know more about the Not-Slavery Slavery that existed between the civil war and 1942? Check out the following resources (book titles are linked to Amazon.com):
- Convict Lease
- Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon
- The Wheat Money by Kristi Tyler
- The Convict Lease System by Frederick Douglass
- Worse than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice by David M. Oshinsky
Next up, the system of Peonage…