Worse than Slavery 1902
Having reasserted political control, some white southerners found ways to continue to extract free labor from African Americans. They passed laws allowing the arrest of blacks for trivial offenses like walking beside a railroad track or speaking loudly in the presence of a white woman. Victims of these trumped-up chargers were “leased” to plantation, mine, and factory owners. It has been estimated that hundreds of thousands of people of African descent were forced into labor in the decades between Reconstruction and the Second World War. They were leased for such small sums that their captors had little economic incentive to care for them. They were housed in squalor, beaten, terrorized, and worked—sometimes literally—to death.