200 Alabama Bicentennial

Celebrating Alabama’s 200th birthday2017 2018 2019

  • Letter from Ezekiel Archey and Ambrose Haskins, convict laborers at Pratt Mines in Jefferson County, Alabama, to Reginald Dawson, president of the Alabama Board of Inspectors of Convicts.

    This letter discusses the condition of their work as convict laborers. Of particular note is their awareness of how white versus African American convicts are treated in this system.

    ALCOS Social Studies Content Standard Grade(s): 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12 (US Government)

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  • “Would Effect Alabama”

    This newspaper article mentions a recently proposed bill in Congress that would stop the sale of convict-made products to another state. The article notes, “the bill would have the effect of entirely changing the convict system of this State.”

    ALCOS Social Studies Content Standard Grade(s): 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12 (US Government)

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  • Volume 4 of the proceedings of the Alabama constitutional convention, 1901 [part 4 of 4], p. 4903-4909.

    "Official proceedings of the constitutional convention of the State of Alabama May 21st, 1901, to September 3rd, 1901." Fourth of four volumes.

    ALCOS Social Studies Content Standard Grade(s): 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12 (US Government)

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  • Map, 1901 Convict Labor Vote

    This map corresponds to the discussion in Volume 4 of the proceedings of the Alabama constitutional convention. The blue is for those delegates who voted to table the vote, while those in green voted No and wanted the Convention to further discuss the amendment.

    ALCOS Social Studies Content Standard Grade(s): 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12 (US Government)

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  • “Leased Convict Labor”

    This article points out some of the problems with the system of convict leasing. Of particular note are the figures given on how much the state makes off of convict labor, as well as the notion that it would be better for Alabama to use convicts on public works projects, such as road maintenance.

    ALCOS Social Studies Content Standard Grade(s): 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12 (US Government)

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  • “The Lease of State Convicts”

    This article reports that state convicts will no longer be leased to coal mines in Alabama.

    ALCOS Social Studies Content Standard Grade(s): 4, 5, 6, 10, 11

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  • Two pages from a convict register, listing six African American men who were tried in the city court of Montgomery, Alabama.

    The register pages include spaces for physical descriptions, trial details, and prison experience (not all details are given for each convict). The men listed here were sentenced for the following crimes: James Dicks, grand larceny, two years; Harrison Grant, burglary and grand larceny, one year and one day; John Henry Caldwell, second degree forgery, two years; Henry Banks, burglary and grand larceny, one year and one day; James Arnington, grand larceny, two years; and Charley Callaway, burglary and grand larceny, one year and one day. Grant and Arnington died while in prison; Grant was killed by falling rock while working at Pratt Mines, and Arnington died of pneumonia.

    ALCOS Social Studies Content Standard Grade(s): 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12 (US Government)

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  • List of the state and local organizations that support an end to the convict lease system.

    The list was compiled by the Statewide Campaign Committee for the Abolishment of the Convict Contract System. Among the organizations listed are the Alabama Federation of Women's Clubs, the Alabama League of Women Voters, and the Alabama Woman's Christian Temperance Union. A note at the end mentions that towns across the state have provided more than 50,000 signatures on petitions sent to the Alabama Legislature.

    ALCOS Social Studies Content Standard Grade(s): 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12 (US Government)

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  • Letter from Mrs. E. H. Hanley and Mrs. J. W. Mills in Attalla, Alabama, to Governor W. W. Brandon in Montgomery, Alabama.

    The two women were officers in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Attalla. In the letter they "wish to add our protest to the many thousands already sent in, against the present convict lease system, which we learn has existed (a blot on our fair state) since 1843."

    ALCOS Social Studies Content Standard Grade(s): 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12 (US Government)

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  • “Who is the State of Alabama?”

    Leaflet issued by the Statewide Campaign Committee for the Abolishment of the Convict Contract System, explaining why the campaign has failed thus far: "No successful effort was made to develop a comprehensive system of employing convicts then under lease, so that the leasing system could be abolished." The leaflet outlines a basic plan for convict employment that includes the manufacture of supplies that are needed in the state: "Alabama convicts should first make goods for our State's own use, and, if they produce a surplus, we will sell it to other States, whose needs are exactly the same as ours."

    ALCOS Social Studies Content Standard Grade(s): 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12 (US Government)

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Back to Educators » Primary Source Packets » Mines, Mills, and Mules, ca. 1877-1914