What Are The Reasons For John Henry Working On The C & O Railroad

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There were many different reasons for John Henry working on the C&O railroad. One of the main reasons had to do with how Virginia was dealing with reconstruction. There were the black laws in Virginia and these laws stated that any African American that was caught unemployed was to be given to the highest bidder. Virginia thought that these black codes would help control the freed black population in Virginia. They believed that if the blacks were not working they would get in trouble. One of the most influential people for controlling the freed blacks was Charles H. Burd of the Freedman’s Bureau. Burd saw himself as the enforcer of uncooperative black workers. He used his influence over the military and the courts to enforce his interpretation …show more content…

The Virginia courts then tried to make Wiseman’s grocery a residence so that it would be considered a felony but the grocery store did not have enough value to make it a felony. Instead John Henry’s trail got pushed back until Virginia had changed the law so that what was misdemeanor in 1864 was now a felony in 1865. The State of Virginia had created an imaginary crimewave. Henry was sent to the Virginia Penitentiary where Burnham Wardwell was having financial difficulties upkeeping the prison. Because of these hardships, Wardwell decided to use the convict lease system to lease out some of his prisoners to work on the C&O Railroad. John Henry was one of these prisoners. The state of Virginia had become so much in debt that they had given the railroad over to a railroad tycoon by the name of Collis P. Huntington. Huntington had tried to get the Irish to work on the C&O railroad because they were a part of the cheap labor system. The Irish however did not want to work for Huntington because they did not like the dangerous conditions that his workers faced. Huntington was using nitroglycerin which was very dangerous because it was more powerful than

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