In 1898, some 73% of Alabama’s entire annual state revenue came from convict leasing.
There were two types of slavery in the post-Civil War USA south:
1) Convict leasing, where the States generated much revenue and where business owners got very cheap labor (even cheaper than having slaves)
2) Peonage, which meant being in debt and paying off that debt.
Peonage was far more criminal than convict leasing. Law-abiding citizens were arrested on fake charges, then told they had to pay a ‘fine’. They could not afford to pay that fine.
Then someone would step in (this was all set up) and pay that fine. And in order to pay back that money, they had to work for free for a very long time … how long? Nobody said.
In 1867, thousands of formerly enslaved African Americans in New Orleans protested and achieved desegregation of the city’s streetcars, nearly 90 years before the bus boycotts in Montgomery.
William Clark’s slave, York, was instrumental to the Lewis and Clark Expedition not only because of his strength and services to the corps, but because many Native American tribes regarded him as a God due to his black skin and showered him with gifts and praise.
Slaves were given redacted bibles so they would not read anything that could cause them to rebel. Most of the old testament and half of the new testament was omitted.
In 1670 a native American tribe decided to travel to Europe to sell pelts after being scammed by colonists. They built a fleet of canoes, as they thought that England lay just over the horizon so they could easily row there. And the ship that found them and rescued them was a British slave ship. The British who then sold them into slavery.
John Newton was the captain of a slave ship. In 1748 he encountered a severe storm and, although being non-religious, prayed out to God for safety. This event changed his life. He later became a clergy member, an abolitionist, and wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace” about his experience.
Ben Franklin was a slaveowner for much of his life, but after a friend took him to visit a school for black children. He wrote that African ignorance was not inherently natural but come from lack of education, slavery and negative environments. And he petitioned Congress to end slavery.
A slave, Nathan “Nearest” Green, taught Jack Daniels how to make whiskey and was credited as the first master distiller.
The process of dry cleaning was invented in 1821 by an African American business owner named Thomas Jennings. He was one of the first African Americans to be granted a patent. He had to use the proceeds from his invention to buy his wife and children out of slavery.
Henry “Box” Brown escaped slavery in the American south by mailing himself to freedom. He had friends pack him into a small box, and ship him as cargo from Richmond to Philadelphia. He survived, and went on to work as a magician.