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Peonage   By: (1863-1945)

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Peonage by Lafayette M. Hershaw offers an in-depth exploration of a dark chapter in American history that has been largely forgotten or overlooked. Through meticulous research and vivid storytelling, Hershaw sheds light on the abuses and exploitations endured by thousands of African Americans in the post-Civil War era.

The book begins by providing historical context, delving into the economic and social conditions that gave rise to the peonage system in the South. Hershaw meticulously traces the origins of this oppressive labor system, which effectively replaced slavery and targeted black workers seeking a semblance of freedom and economic opportunity. The author's attention to detail and thorough analysis make this section especially enlightening, allowing readers to grasp the magnitude of the injustice perpetrated against black communities at the time.

One of the book's strengths lies in Hershaw's ability to present complex historical information in a captivating manner. The narrative flows smoothly, with each chapter unraveling a new layer of peonage's enormity. Additionally, the author incorporates testimonies from survivors of peonage, personalizing the stories and giving voices to those who suffered under this system. These firsthand accounts further emphasize the harrowing experiences of peons, and make for poignant and emotionally resonant reading.

Hershaw skillfully dissects the legal and political aspects of peonage, exposing the complicity of law enforcement and local authorities in perpetuating this brutal practice. His analysis serves as a reminder of the systemic nature of oppression, illustrating that peonage was not merely the actions of a few exploitative individuals, but rather a deeply entrenched and widely accepted institution.

One minor criticism of the book is that, at times, the amount of historical and legal information presented can become overwhelming for readers not already well-versed in the subject matter. While Hershaw's thoroughness is admirable, it occasionally detracts from the book's overall readability. However, this is a relatively minor flaw in an otherwise excellent and important work.

In conclusion, Peonage by Lafayette M. Hershaw is a powerful and necessary historical account that exposes a deeply troubling era in American history. The author's meticulous research, engaging storytelling, and inclusion of survivor testimonies create a compelling read that will both educate and move readers. This book is an essential addition to the field of African American history and provides valuable insights into the struggle for justice and equality in the United States.

First Page:


The American Negro Academy.



PRICE : : 15 CTS.




The Negro was kidnapped from the shores of Africa and brought into the Western Hemisphere at the beginning of the sixteenth century in order to meet the conditions growing out of an acute labor problem. The greedy and adventurous Spaniard had come to these shores in quest of gold, and after years of experiment he discovered that the Indian who lived in the islands and on the coast of the New World, either would not or was not physically able to perform the heavy labor of extracting gold from the mines. To meet his greedy quest, it was then necessary to look elsewhere to find the man who was feeble enough in will and strong enough in body to meet the conditions which then presented themselves. The African was that man. It is not the purpose of these reflections to deal with the institution of slavery other than to point out that what slavery is appears altogether from the point of view of the one who discusses it. It is common nowadays to refer to it as a practical institution by means of which the savage African was brought under the beneficent influences of Christianity, taught the English language, and the joy of intelligently directed labor... Continue reading book >>

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