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Chained in SilenceBlack Women and Convict Labor in the New South$
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Talitha L. LeFlouria

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469622477

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469622477.001.0001

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Black Women and Convict Leasing in the “Empire State” of the New South

Black Women and Convict Leasing in the “Empire State” of the New South

(p.61) Chapter Two Black Women and Convict Leasing in the “Empire State” of the New South
Chained in Silence

Talitha L. LeFlouria

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter underscores the centrality of prison labor in fulfilling the postbellum vision of modernization and industrial prosperity. According to Henry Woodfin Grady, a prominent Georgian and proverbial “spokesman” of the New South, industrialization was to benefit whites exclusively, and industrial progress would hinge on the perpetuation of white supremacy. Consequently, the apparatus of convict leasing was put in place to secure racial hegemony and to dispossess freedwomen and freedmen of their newly acquired liberties. However, during the 1890s, Georgia industrialists had struggled to maintain the vision of New South prosperity while negotiating the female felons' place within the state's convict lease system. Thus, Southern entrepreneurs had been forced to regulate their industrial aspirations to accommodate a growing public and political desire to see black women prisoners moved beyond the bounds of masculine confinement, and utilized in more traditional customs of labor.

Keywords:   Henry Woodfin Grady, industrial prosperity, white supremacy, female felons, convict lease system, black women prisoners

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