The truck system was a global phenomenon in the period 1865-1920, where workers were paid through the company store. In
Beyond Racism and Poverty Karin Lurvink looks at how this system functioned on plantations in Louisiana in comparison with peateries in the Netherlands. In the United States, the system is often viewed as a 'second slavery' and strongly associated with racism. In the Netherlands, however, not racism but poverty has been seen as the main reason for its continued existence. By using a variety of historical sources and by analyzing the perspectives of both employers and workers, Lurvink provides new insights into how the truck system worked and can be explained. She reveals how the system was not only coercive but had advantages for the workers as well, which should not be overlooked.
Dr. Karin Lurvink (1987), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, obtained her Ph.D. in 2016 and is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher. She works on the project ‘Slaves, Commodities, and Logistics’, which is looking at the impact of slavery on the Dutch economy.
Table of contents
PrefaceAcknowledgementsList of IllustrationsAbbreviations and ConventionsGlossaryIntroduction The Truck System—A Nineteenth-Century Global Phenomenon American Historians Discussing the Truck System—Racism Dutch Historians Discussing the Truck System—Poverty Selecting the Research Cases Rational Choice-Approach Voice from the Past: Source Material Outline
1 Bayous and Bogs—The Geography of Isolation The Louisiana Countryside Louisiana Rivers, Creeks, Lakes, and Bayous Railroads—An Improved Connection to the Outside World Dutch Roads and Highways of Water
2 Truck Payments Fields of Cotton and Sugarcane Permanent and Seasonal Peat Lands Truck Payments
Direct Non-Cash—Something to Eat and a Few Rags to Wear?Indirect Non-Cash—The Company StoreColorful Tokens and Handwritten Store NotesLiving off Future Income Piles of Greenbacks, Dollars, and Guilders Conclusions
3 Abuse? The Effects of the Truck System Whiskey,
Jenever, and Alcoholics High Price, Low Quality Usurious Interest Rates Debt Peonage Conclusions
4 Costs and Benefits—The Employer’s Perspective Costs—The Opposite of the Truck System Economic Forces and Financial Difficulties
Strapped for CashMiserable Years and Declining Profits‘The Queerest Looking Creatures’—Labor Supply and Productivity ‘The Misery of this Time’ and Truck Payment Methods Conclusions
5 Carrots, Cake, and Candy—The Store as a Positive Incentive Presents ‘Joyfully Accepted’ Facilitating Commerce
Self-sufficient Little Worlds of Their Own?The Alternative Marketplace –‘A Welcome Sight to the Rural Resident’Credit Scarcity Consumerism and the Physical Artifacts of Modern Life
‘From Something to Eat, to Something to Work, to Something to Wear’Shopping in the Peat Employer’s Store—‘The More We Take, the More We Have’Access to Desires Conclusions
6 Sticks and Strikes—The Store as a Negative Incentive Debating and Denouncing the Truck System ‘No Way to Check the Honesty of the Records’ Lack of Freedom Racist Truck System? Conclusions
7 The Power of Racism and Class Increasing Terror Declining Resistance Racism and the Truck System No Truck, No Job Lowest Class of Society Conclusions
Conclusion Main Conclusions Racism and Poverty Beyond Louisiana and the Netherlands: Suggestions for Future Research
Appendices Appendix 1. Louisiana Database and Method of Analysis
Creating the DatabaseMethod of Analysis Appendix 2. Dutch Database and Method of Analysis Appendix 3. Harry Baptiste and Samuel Taylor—Oral History Interview 2011 Appendix 4. Isolation and Infrastructure
Sources Unpublished Sources
PeateriesPlantation Administrations Photographs Tokens Interviews Printed Sources Newspapers Dutch Newspapers Universiteitsbibliotheek Vrije Universiteit Government Documents Dutch Government Documents Second Chamber Reports First Chamber Reports Maps Miscellaneous Published sources Price Data Travel Accounts Miscellaneous
Bibliography Literature Unpublished Studies
All interested in the history of the truck system, post-bellum Louisiana, and Dutch peateries.