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Journal article

Negro Involuntary Servitude in the South, 1865-1940: A Preliminary Analysis

Date

1976-02-01

Authors

William Cohen

Abstract

THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT FORMALLY ENDED SLAVERY, BUT THE
legacy of bondage proved stubbornly persistent. Seventy-five years
after emancipation black forced labor remained common in many
areas of the South. While historians of the South have devoted
much attention to the oppressive effects of sharecropping, tenantry,
the crop-lien system, and peonage, few have addressed themselves
to the larger system of involuntary servitude within which these
factors operated. From a legal standpoint this system comprised a
variety of state laws aimed at making it possible for both individuals
and local governments to acquire and hold black labor virtually at
will. Beyond this, involuntary servitude was a creature of custom
dependent upon community attitudes which sanctioned the use of
forced labor. Occasionally such attitudes even allowed whites to
compel labor from Negroes without the pretense of a legal
justification.

Journal title

The Journal of Southern History

Volume

42

Issue

1

Page numbers

31-60

Publisher

Southern Historical Association

File Attachments

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Economic sectors

General relevance - all sectors

Content types

Past policies

Target groups

Researchers

Geographical focuses

United States

Spheres of activity

History

Languages

English