Georgia Freedmen’s Labor Contracts

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Georgia Freedmen’s Labor Contracts

The regulation of written labor agreements between planters and freedmen was a major concern of the Freedmen’s Bureau.

In September of 1865, General Davis Tillson was appointed Assistant Commissioner for the state of Georgia. In December of 1865 Tillson issued wage guidelines for Freedmen’s labor. In upper and middle Georgia, where the land was poor, men’s wages were set at $12–$13 per month, and $8–$10 dollars per month for women. Freedmen were to provide for their own clothing and medicines.

In other parts of the state and along the coast where land was more suited to raising large crops, men’s wages were set at $15 per month, and board and lodging were to be provided. Women were to be paid $10 per month. If planters preferred to pay a share of the crop, Freedmen were to receive from one-third the gross to one half the net proceeds.

Where fair and equitable contracts could not be made, the bureau offered transportation to freedmen to such areas as southwest Georgia and the Mississippi Valley where wages were higher. By November of 1866, 381 orders had been issued for transportation for some 2,947 men and 1,013 children [1].

Please read below to view individual labor contracts as they are posted. You can click on document images to view them larger, or in full screen mode.

References Cited

[1] Records of the Field Offices for the State of Georgia, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872 (NARA Micropublication M1903)

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