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No Security: Families Struggle to Stay Together

This labor contract between Sally, a freed woman, and her former enslaver, Marth L. Walker, illustrates the wrenching insecurity families continued to cope with in the post-emancipation era. The terms of the contract permit the four children of Sally (Ann, Elihu, Catharine, and Mary) to “remain with her” on the condition that they all “work and behave themselves as usual.” The threat of tearing apart the fabric of Sally’s family perpetuated some of the cruelest aspects of enslavement: the loss of loved ones as punishment and disregard for humanity.

Courtesy of the South Carolina Historical Society