The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 414
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414 Soutnwestern Historical Quarterly January
The underlying explanation for the bat's retention as well as the per-
sistence of a brutal penal system may rest largely upon the American
prison labor tradition. In all sections of the United States, prisoners
worked in order that free taxpayers might not suffer the burdens of sup-
porting idle convicts. Although the tradition had receded slightly in
northern industrial states where governments sought to prohibit convict
competition against free employees, less opposition existed in Texas and
the South, where the production and sale of agricultural goods on the
open market attempted to finance state penal institutions. Most of the
states that retained corporal punishment in 1910 were in the South.
With the final demise of convict leasing, the Texas prison system
plunged into severe financial difficulties. By 1913 prison debt exceeded
$1 million. During an investigation that year, a majority of the witnesses
testifying before legislators complained that the bat's suspension made
convicts more difficult to control than before. The absence of what one
hard-liner termed "the convict's best friend" (the bat) had allegedly pro-
duced mutinous conduct, escapes, poor work habits, and a lack of pro-
ductivity. Growing indebtedness and agricultural losses continued dur-
ing Colquitt's second term, making the decision to resume whipping a
relatively easy one for his successors."
Tomhn, The Lzfe of Henry Tomlin: The Man Who Fought the Brutality and Oppresswon of the Ring mn the
State of Texas for Ezghteen Years and Won: The Story of How Men Traffic in the Liberties and Lives of Thezr
Fellow Men (n.p., 1906), 17, 20-21, 64-67; Charles C. Campbell, Hell Exploded An Exposztion of
Barbarous Cruelty and Prison Horrors (n.p., 1900oo), 19-22, 51-54;J. S. Calvin, Bured Alive or a Term
in the Texas State Prison, z898-z9o2: A Chapter From Real Lzfe (Paris, Texas: Chester Printing
House, 1905), 31-43; and John Shotwell, A Vzctzm's Revenge or Fourteen Years in Hell (San Antonio
E. J. Jackson Co, 1909), 11-13. See Tom Finty's report on the difficult problems faced by the
Colquitt administration in relation to the prison system in Finty, "Troubles of the Texas Prison
" On the prison labor tradition in the United States and Europe see Garland, Punishment and
Modern Soczety, 96-102; George Rusche and Otto Kirchheimer, Punishment and Social Structure
(New York- Columbia University Press, 1939), 151-160; Robert P. Weiss, "Humanitarianism,
labour exploitation, or social control? A critical survey of theory and research on the origin and
development of prisons," Social History, 12 (Oct., 1987), 331-350; Martin Miller, "At Hard
Labor. Rediscovering the 19th Century Prison," in Tony Platt and Paul Takagi (eds.),
Punishment and Penal Disczplzne: Essays on the Prison and the Prisoners' Movement (San Francisco:
Crime and Social Justice Associates, 1982), 79-88; Adam J. Hirsch, The Rise of The Penitentzary.
Prisons and Punishment in Early America (New Haven, Conn.. Yale University Press, 1992), 14-20o,
31, 73-74; and Walter David Lewis, From Newgate to Dannemora: The Rise of the Penztentzary in New
York, I796-1848 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1965), 70-102. Concerning legal
restrictions on prison manufacturing, see McKelvey, American Prisons, 290-293; Frank T. Flynn,
"The Federal Government and the Prison Labor Problem in the States" (Ph.D. diss., University
of Chicago, 1949), 79-147; and Glen A. Gildemeister, Prison Labor and Convict Competztion with
Free Workers in Industrializing America, 1840-z89o (New York: Garland Press, 1987), 249-255.
Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas relied on prison farms to finance their convict pop-
ulations. See Grantham, Southern Progressivism, 133; Mark T Carleton, Politzcs and Punishment
The Hstory of the Lousana State Penal System (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press,
1971), 45-47; David M. Oshmsky, "Worse Than Slavery"- Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jzm Crow
Justice (New York: The Free Press, 1996), 135-249, and Penitentiary Investigating Committee, A
Record ofEvidence, 29-33, 36-37. The 1913 legislative investigation determined that the prison
system's indebtedness had reached $1,786,270.32 by June 27, 1913. See Houston Chronicle, Mar.
15, 1912 (quotation).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/482/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.