Chester District, S.C. April 11, 1868. pp., on a single folded folio sheet. Old folds, mild dust-soiling, light edge wear. Very good. Item #4765
An interesting document relating to the management on a South Carolina plantation in the years following the Civil War and deep in the heart of Reconstruction. The document is an executed annual labor contract between Ned Glover, an overseer working for John S. Wilson and Jim Moore, the young son of a freedman named James Moore. According to the text of the contract: "The said James Moore agrees to hire his son James to said Ned Glover to work on the plantation of J. S. Wilson for the balance of the year 1868 for the sum of fifty dollars." The young James "Jim" Moore "shall work faithfully, honestly, civilly & diligently; he shall obey all the lawful orders of the said Ned Glover. That he is to perform any kind of labour which the said J.S. Wilson may require the said Ned Glover to have done on his plantation and be polite and respectful to the said J.S. Wilson and family." Wilson will keep a book "in which an entry shall be made of all the advances made for shoes, clothing &c and also of all lost time with which he may be chargeable." These "are to be deducted from the said sum of fifty dollars." He shall be discharged if he becomes "negligent," "idle," "cruel to the stock," "lose or injure tools," or "absent himself without leave on two or more occasions."
In return, the younger Moore will receive "comfortable quarters," "wholesome board," and be treated with "justice & kindness;" in addition, his pay is to go directly to his father. For his oversight, Ned Glover receives "that portion of the crop which he is to receive as agent." At the conclusion of the document, it is signed by Glover and the elder Moore, and witnessed by the plantation owner J.S. Wilson and Nathan Thomas, the latter with an "X" as his mark.
Consistent with the Black Codes that enforced the second-class status of African American Freedmen, this contract illustrates the Plantation South's resistance to the newly freed status of former slaves. Its detailed enumeration of labor relations offers an unrivaled window into early Reconstruction plantation life. Although agents of the Freedmen's Bureau supervised such contracts, the articles grant Wilson a degree of control and power only minimally different from chattel slavery. John Simonton Wilson (1820-1902) was a politically active Carolinian, secessionist, slave owner, and Captain in the 1st South Carolina Cavalry during the Civil War.