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

Twice the Work of Free Labor: The Political Economy of Convict Labor in the New South (Haymarket Series) By Alex Lichtenstein Cover Image
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Description


For the first time in a generation chain gangs have reappeared on the roads 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 reveals the origins of this vicious penal slavery, explains its persistent and widespread popularity among whites, and charts its unhappy contribution to the rebirth of the South in the decades following the Civil War.

The book also offers an original analysis of the post-Civil War South’s political economy. 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.

About the Author


Alex Lichtenstein is Associate Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania.

Praise For…


“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


Product Details
ISBN: 9781859840863
ISBN-10: 1859840868
Publisher: Verso
Publication Date: January 17th, 1996
Pages: 294
Language: English
Series: Haymarket Series