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The results of enslavement throughout USA are not just confined within the construction of the US Capitol, the country’s executive branch, but enslavement also constructed the highways of economic prosperity. The railway network in North America was extremely vital not only in during the colonial time, but they still stand to the drivers of US economy. The slave did transport the goods from the plantations ferrying them to the markets both locally and internationally. Local rivers in South Antebellum and Mexico were vital for transport of plantation products into the centers of export. In the North, Mississippi River was a crucial means of transport (Licht, 32). In this way, they were part of the transport themselves.
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The marks of slavery and more so those of their contribution to the building of USA are those left behind their labor that constructed the leading US rail networks. Many Historians including Professor Ted Kornweibel and Walter Licht have documented that slavery played a part in construction and operations of about 100 rail lines (Licht, 93). Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, CSX and Canadian National are some of the main rail networks in North America built and operated mainly by slave labor. According to Professor Ted, the Norfolk Southern rail network has 39 lines constructed by slaves. CSX network owes 36 lines to slave labor. Historical manuscripts report “Negro hire” or “colored hands” was the cheapest, reliable and easy to manage labor (Licht, 13). The labor played the roles of clearing, grading and laying of railway tracks. Slave owners between 1800 and 1850 sold or hired their slaves to railroad construction companies. Walter Licht reports that slave labor was the “backbone” of the South's railway operations (Licht, 103). He adds that slaves served as brakemen, repairmen, station helpers, firemen and even enginemen.
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