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Entry Category: Labor - Starting with P


The term “peonage” refers to a debt labor system whereby workers are tied to a landowner due to debts owed the landowner by the worker. Peonage is considered a form of slavery since the worker is essentially prohibited from leaving the control of the landowner. Peonage was declared illegal by Congress in 1867, and two of the most famous peonage investigations occurred in Arkansas during the first decades of the twentieth century. Potential for peonage came about following the Civil War when the South’s agricultural economy shifted from use of a slavery-based workforce to a farming environment that relied on a mixture of hired labor and tenant farming or sharecropping. The sharecropping system encouraged indebtedness to the landowner since supplies …

Progressive Farmers and Household Union of America (PFHUA)

Robert L. Hill of Drew County, along with physician V. E. Powell, incorporated the Progressive Farmers and Household Union of America (PFHUA) in Winchester (Drew County) in 1918. Hill, an African American, referred to himself as a “U.S. Detective” because he had taken a St. Louis, Missouri, correspondence course in detective training, but some people identified him as a farmer or farm hand. According to the articles of the constitution of the PFHUA, the group’s objective was “to advance the interests of the Negro, morally and intellectually, and to make him a better citizen and a better farmer.” The organization had characteristics of a fraternal order, such as passwords, handshakes, and signs for members, and it also resembled a union. …