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Slavery by Another Name Post
by TARA JONES - Wednesday, December 9, 2015, 08:26 PM
 

In the documentary Slavery by Another Name, the accounts of John Davis explored the topic of peonage. Davis, just one of the many lives followed in the film, was 12 when the Civil War had ended. He worked with his family on their farm in Alabama. The story returns to Davis when he reached the age of 23 in 1901. While traveling to visit his wife who was ill and residing with her family, white merchant Robert Franklin confronted John. He claimed Davis owned him debt, which is false, and forced him into labor. Davis was taken to court because of the debt and charged fines he could not pay. Franklin bought him and sold him to John Pace. Pace forecd Davis to sign a contract binding him to treatment similar to slavery. This is the way the peonage is introduced in the movie. Peonage was an illegal practise of using debt to force blacks into a system similar to slavery. Theodore Roosevelt begins a stand against peonage in the form of a federal investigation into the system. John Davis testifies in the investigation in Alabama. I thought the use of common, everyday people's stories was very influential in the film and made the subjects more relatable. It says something about history and how even though it may be presidents and government officials you read about in books, everyone contributes to history in one way or another. I also found peonage interesting as it was not a topic we had discussed in our notes, it was new to me.