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Risky Labor Contracts Proliferate South Carolina Historical Society

This four-year contract between Charles Norton, a freedman, and Woodward Manning, a planter, includes terms for renting a small tract of land and purchase of a mule for $190 “to be paid in four annual installments.” Notably, the mule was to “remain the property of Woodward Manning until paid for by Charles Norton” in full. Rent for the land would be paid in the form of 2,500 pounds of “nice white cotton” by the first of October each year. Contracts such as this one placed the majority of risk in the maintenance of livestock and success or failure of agricultural endeavors squarely in the hands of black laborers.

Courtesy of the South Carolina Historical Society