Slavery has been known as one of America’s darkest moments in history. Although slavery was abolished on Dec. 15th 1866, thanks to the 13th amendment, unknown to the freed slaves they would soon be put through something much worst then slavery. The white southerners began to implicate many new laws, such as Black Codes, Pig law, that helped in creating Convict leasing. Also the Jim Crow laws would later be implemented. All this was possible because of a small clause in our 13th amendment “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” A few of the people that helped in making obstacles and convict leasing possible as well as the laws where, B.B Comer, J.W Comer, Andrew Johnson, John T. Miller and Jim Crow.
Black Codes were basically made to send ex-slaves back their plantations. Although some new laws did give blacks there right to get married, sue and be sued, be case witnesses and the right to own guns they varied from state to state. In some states they were given a curfew, and had to be off the streets by a certain time, they weren’t allowed within city limits without authorization, they were limited in trade and legalized whipping as a way of correcting workers . In Mississippi they went as far as not selling them land except in certain towns. The worst law was the vagrants and vagrancy. It was easy to arrest black for violating vagrancy laws, because the freed blacks lacked wealth and land owning their previous condition of servitude. Also people that were accused of being vagrants were given a trial. If they were found to in fact be deemed a vagrant then they were fined fifty dollars. If the person could not pay then they were sentenced to six months in jail, or they would be incarcerated until their fine could be paid. This law stated that people found to be vagrant could be hired out to work, instead of going to jail, so they were either hired out to privet individuals or later forced to work public projects called chain gangs.
Convict leasing began in Alabama in 1846 lasting till 1928. In 1874 they made $14,000 in revenue by 1890 they made $164,000 which was an equivalent to $4.1 million dollars today. One of the biggest users of convict leasing was John T. Miller having J.W Comer as his overseer at the coal mines. He was considered a supreme racist and despotic employer, profiting off black convicts mining coal for steel to build the first railways in the south. A slave was worth more than a prisoner which could be rented for as little as $9 a month, it was 50%-80% less than mine worker. The working conditions they were given where horrible as they went through mental & physical abuse, drinking dirty mine water, not seeing the sun for up to 3 days at a time being pushed to the limit of human endurance. 30-40% of them died a year, by 1886 there were 15,000 prisoners working. In many labor camps 1/3 where boys younger than 16. Sweeps would take place especially around harvest times, or when a labor agents where coming to get more inmates. More than 2/3 of prisoner where convicted of under vague larceny or burglary charges including Ezekial Archiy. In 1884, a series of remarkable letters was sent from the Pratt Coal Mines to Alabama’s new inspector of prisons by 25 year old convict Ezekial Archey. He was one of hundreds of convicts being worked in a growing network of mines and factories around the burgeoning city of Birmingham, Alabama.