This Week in Reconstruction, October 16-22, 1866

Dublin Core


This Week in Reconstruction, October 16-22, 1866


With winter approaching, the citizens of Richmond are struggling to adjust not only to cooler temperatures, but also a society that can no longer rely on enslaved labor. For years Richmonders lived and worked in buildings held together not by brick and cement, but by the stolen lives of slaves. No longer can the city prosper by stealing freedom, labor is no longer free. Workers across the city, including those working tobacco factories, are no longer property, they are people. They are employees that have rights and require just payment for their labor. Up until now the tobacco industry has survived this shock, but winter is approaching. Tobacco factory owners announced that most, if not all, production will stall until spring. The industry that for so long provided the city with wealth, meaning, and industry is struggling to survive. Tobacco manufacturing has never been very profitable during the winter months, but before emancipation factories continued to produce because there were no labor costs. Now that factories can no longer deny the humanity of their employees, they are unable to make a profit during winter and are left with no choice but to temporarily shut down. This leaves the employees staring into the face of winter without a stable job. No one knows what will come from this. No one knows what will happen to the tobacco industry or the former slaves who serve as employees. Will the industry survive? Will the freedmen starve? The Dispatch says the temporary collapse of the tobacco industry illustrates "the greatest national crime in our day


October 16-22, 1866


Nat Berry