9. Many Freed Slaves Worked On The Same Farms For The Same Wages
When the 13th Amendment was passed, a judge in Alabama declared that he and his Southern brethren were going to keep black slave labor alive in the South. “There is really no difference,” he said, “whether we hold them as absolute slaves or obtain their labor by some other method.”
He was right. Their new jobs as free people weren’t much different from their jobs as slaves. The newly freed slaves may have dreamed of better lives and new occupations, but a better life wasn’t easy to find. They had no money, no education, and no experience doing anything other than slaving away on a white man’s plantation.
Many ended up signing labor contracts with their former masters and were put back to work on the same farms. There, white landowners kept slave-condition gang labor alive with whites overseeing black workers.
Pay wasn’t much better than it was during slavery. In fact, it was often worse. The earliest records of black wages weren’t taken until 1910, nearly 50 years after emancipation. Even then, the average black man made no more than one-third the salary of the average white man.