Top positive review
6 people found this helpful
Absolutely shatters what was taught to us at school
on 30 April 2013
This book, that is written in such light and lucid language deals with a topic that is everything but lightly. I founded it absolutely shocking to read. The lack of respect towards fellow human beings, the deplorable moral and the complete lack of any empathy on display here is truly shocking. As we all have learned in school, with the acceptance of the 13 Amendment Slavery ended in the Unites States. And movies as Lincoln seem to drive this message home, once more. Of course, this was everything but what really happened. James M. McPherson is already touching on this in Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, but does not more than mentioning it. Blackmon however wrote a book about it.
After the civil war ended, Slavery was indeed abolished, but interestingly not every form of slavery. That was not done until 1952. Roughly the book deals with the period between this 1 years and describes in great deal, often from witness accounts, records and diaries what happened. The south, absolutely convinced that the cotton industry could only survive if slavery or better said free labor of African-Americans would be maintained. The solution to this was that they made being unemployed a crime. So every African-American that was walking on the street, sleeping in a deserted train wagon was basically eligible to be arrested. Upon arrest they were put in shackles and convicted during a fake trial, upon which the state had the right to sell the person to a private owner, who then deployed them for various forms of hard labor. Usually in the most atrocious circumstances as for example in a charcoal mine. With basically nowhere to go, no way to get out, there was only one way and that was to work of the sentence, usually with near or fatal consequences.
What was surprising me the most was that everybody was in it, and that police, sheriffs, judges, land owners, industrial owners and the president (I knew that someone as Woodrow Wilson was a notorious racist, but I didn't expect it from Theodore Roosevelt as we'll) all were doing their share in maintaining this form of slavery creating an absolutely hopeless situation for the African American population. I hope that this book will serve to bring these criminals to justice and restore the narrative of what really went on. It is interesting to keep in mind that at the same time the United States President was preaching for the League of Nations and did they liberate countless people from a similar fate. This high act of humanism was unfortunately not further deployed in their own country.