Inside the Jackson Tract: The Battle Over Peonage Labor Camps in Southern Alabama, 1906

Exploring the history of post-slavery labor, the harsh conditions of labor camps, and efforts to end the peonage system. Introduction On a warm spring day in 1904, former governor of Maryland and lumberman E. E. Jackson, along with several associates, traveled to Alabama to view their extensive holdings of southern yellow pine forests. The party took[…]

‘Peonage’: 19th-Century New Mexico and the History of Colonial Spain’s Debt Enslavement

A system inherited from colonial Spain kept Americans in servitude even after the Civil War. Imagine a time and place where a small debt—even just a few dollars—could translate into a lifetime of servitude not only for the debtor, but also for his or her children. For much of the 19th century, the American Southwest[…]