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America's History in the Making

Resource Archive: Search Results

A Freedman's Work Contract, 1865

Written across script :
"Approved Aug 9th 1865
By Order
Saml S. Gardner
Asst Supt Freedmen
Registered Sept 4, 1865"

State of Ala }
Wilcox Co }a contract entered into, this the 31st day of July, between James G. Tait as employer and the following named Freedmen, or Laborers as employees of the County & State aforesaid. The said Freedmen or Laborers, on their part, for & in consideration of the terms hereinafter state, bind themselves, to:— faithfully & diligently labor for said Jas G. Tait, during the rema- -inder of the year 1865, (according to the (torn) regulation, conditions & penalties prescribed & contained in a (torn) rules & regulations for the State of Ala. & c.—) and said labor is to (torn) formed under the direction of the said J.G. Tait, or any agent by him appointed. The said Freedmen, or Laborers bind themselves to visit, or receive visitors on such conditions as may be agreed upon, by said J.G. Tait or his agent. The Freedmen, or Laborers further bind themselves to account to the said J.G. Tait, for the value of any property of whatever kind or description that may be wasted, lost, or destroyed by reason of the negligence, or careless conduct of said Freedmen or laborers, & the part of the crop allotted to said Freedmen or Laborers, is hereby made liable for the value of any property, so wasted, lost or destroyed. It is further agreed & stipulated, that if any of the said Freedmen or Laborers shall refuse, or fail to work faithfully & diligently, the said James G. Tait or his agent shall have power & is hereby authorised to discharge him or them. The said Jas G. Tait binds himself to pay over & deliver on the premises to said Freedmen or laborers one-eighth part of the present growing crop ^of corn, fodder, cowpeas & ground peas, and also one half of the potatoes & sorghum syrup of sickness & rice, & also to furnish food, clothing, houses, fuel, & medicines—& in bad cases a physician
James G. Tait.
Isham his X mark
A. L. Whisenhart
Washington his X mark
W. P. Barnes
Isaac his X mark
A.W. Bethea
Brian his X mark
Glaster his X mark
John his X mark
Dempsy his X mark
Jeff his X mark
Jack his X mark
Bill Smart his X mark
Widow (torn) her X mark
Widow—Milly her X mark
Dick his X mark
Frank his X mark
Malinda her X mark
Jim his X mark

Tait labor contract, (LPR 35, Box 1, Folder 2) Alabama Department of Archives and History, www.archives.state.al.us/teachers/recon/recon1.html.

Creator Land owners (or people representing them)
Context With the end of slavery and the federal government's reluctance to grant land to former slaves, white land owners contracted for the labor of former slaves.
Audience The people who signed the contract and, if necessary, local courts
Purpose To stipulate the nature of the labor agreement

Historical Significance

Few freedpeople were able to gain title to land in the South during Reconstruction. Most entered into various sorts of labor contracts, often with their former owners. Here are several examples.


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