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Twice the Work of Free Labor: Political Economy of Convict Labor in the New South (Haymarket) [Paperback]

Alex Lichtenstein

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Book Description

11 Dec 1995 Haymarket
For the first time in a generation shain gangs have reappeared on the raods of the American South. Associated in the past with racial terrorism, this cruel and unusual punishment should invoke strong memories. But, in the rush to embrace ever-harsher sanctions, the American public has ignored the troubling history of Southern punishment. Twice the Work of Free Labor is the first book-length study of the history of the Southern convict-lease system and its successor, the chain gang. For nearly a century after the abolition of slavery, convicts labored in the South's mines, railroad camps, brickyards, turpentine farms and then road gangs, under abject conditions. The vast majority of these prisoners were African Americans. In this timely book, Alex Lichtenstein suggests that, after emancipation, forced black labor was exploited not by those who yearned for the social order of the slave South, but by the region's most ardent advocates of progress. The convict-lease and chain gang allowed a New South to rise while preserving white supremacy.

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"Powerful, painstakingly researched, gracefully written, Twice the Work of Free Labor is a must read for anyone seeking an historical perspective on the current expansion of the US prison industry and the state's reliance on incarceration to deal with the poor." - Robin D. G. Kelley

About the Author

Alex Lichtenstein is Assisstant Professor of History at Florida International University in Miami. His articles have appeared in Radical History Review, Journal of Southern History and Labor History.

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5.0 out of 5 stars The 13th Amendment: Malicious, Mendacious and Duplicitous 21 Jun 2014
By Nubian Queen - Published on Amazon.com
In researching the origin of the wording in the 13th Amendment, I was totally frustrated by the silence on the issue in what is called Black History; so I moved over to Civil War history; same silence. Eventually I realized that the meat and potatoes history of the African American experience with this country is hidden in the law and the American penal system. The old surveys of slave ships, and plantation life, though important and of course an integral part of this experience, is only the very tip of the iceberg. And while the sociologists cut their teeth on formulating theories touting Black inferiority , for the masses, the law was busy creating a framework that continues to entrap African Americans to this day, in forms of slavery that are constantly tweaked for mass consumption. In addition to, Esposito and Woods excellent book, Prison Slavery, Twice the Work Of Free Labor, point blank, reveals the monstrous duplicity of the 13th Amendment. You can read book after book, about slavery, the Civil War and Jim Crow and nobody will point out the elephant in the room, the Emperor wearing no clothes, the obvious. The first sentence frees, while the second sentence re-enslaves under conditions that were put in place through American law, and still exist to this day. People take it for granted it makes sense that there is an "exception" there. When nothing could be further from the truth. Senator Charles Sumner saw it before it was ratified and Congressman John Adam Kasson saw it two years after ratification. Lichtenstein does an admirable job of exposing the underbelly of the American experiment, gone rogue on an unsuspecting and vulnerable people.
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