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1942: Peonage and the Last Chattel Slave

Dans La Lune

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Aug 30, 2019
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With South Africa
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If you want to learn something about American History, watch the whole thing. If you want to reach the conclusion, the video is time-stamped:

It's actually a myth that slavery ended after the Civil War. America set up a system whereby predominantly black people were sentenced by become chattel slaves to pay off a largely bogus debt. While technically outlawed, it was not prosecuted, giving rise to a new form of chattel slavery. This changed after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, where the Japanese used the treatment of black people to serve their propaganda machine.

"In September 1942, on a farm outside of Beeville, Texas, a man named Alfred Irving became the last chattel slave to be freed in America. Not indentured servant, or convict laborer, or debt peon -- slave. Here's a news article from the time saying as much. The Skrobarcek family held him as a lave for at least four years, they starved him, and beat him with chains, whips, and ropes so regularly that he was permanently disfigured. The family was found guilty and sentenced to federal prison. The Corpus Christi Times said the "trial and its conclusion will undoubtably be said in the future to have given a decisive setback to the enemy propaganda machine." So, in a way, by bombing Pearl Harbor, the Japanese ended slavery in the United States.


"In 1941, in response to the outbreak of World War II and amid fears that racial inequalities would be used as anti–United States propaganda, Attorney General Francis Biddle issued Circular No. 3591 to all federal prosecutors, instructing them to actively investigate and try more peonage cases. Finally, the federal government was willing to act aggressively to protect all its citizens from this forced labor."
And we still have slaves today. That whole “except as punishment for a crime” exception being combined with for-profit prisons to keep modern plantation owners rich.
And we still have slaves today. That whole “except as punishment for a crime” exception being combined with for-profit prisons to keep modern plantation owners rich.

That's a good point, one which the author of the video references, but he makes a special distinction that this isn't a reference to the prison industrial complex or any form of slavery-like conditions -- but actual, legit chattel slavery with no real distinction from what was occurring pre-Civil War (brutality included). There can be a difference of opinion as to the conditions and appropriateness of prison labor. I think the fact that America imprisons black people at a higher rate than apartheid South Africa is proof that, at the very least, racism is built into America's systems. That there is a system of profiteering on top of this system is beyond the pale.

However, there can be very little debate that slavery as an institution did not end until the 1940s. As the video references, Biden was born like 2 years after the last slave was freed.

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