Stoppage of Tobacco Factories

October 17, 1866


The tobacco factories of the city have decided to shut down during the winter as it is not a good time to manufacture tobacco. This will cause most of the laborers who work in the factories to be without jobs for the winter months. The Dispatch says this is another example of how the lives of freedmen were better when they were enslaved, because they always had an "abundance of food and clothing. "


Stoppage of Tobacco Factories.--We understand that the tobacco factories of this city will all stop operations by the 1st of November. Some of them will suspend earlier, beginning with next week. We learn that this suspension is on the ground that the winter is unsuited to tobacco manufacturing. The manufacturers would at no time have continued their business in winter, but being formerly compelled to hire their hands by the year, they were obliged to give them something to do in winter. The throwing of so many laborers upon the city without means aud without occupation is a serious matter, and a subject for the consideration of our authorities. The colored laborer saves nothing, and his earnings of the season are all gone. He must now beg, steal, or starve. Starve he will not, and if not fed he will steal. Therefore the police force will be called on for unusual diligence and sharpness. But the police cannot stay the appetite, and cannot prevent the procuring of means to satisfy it. Therefore the police cannot remedy the evil of hunger or starvation. The subject must be considered in all its relations before wise conclusions and measures can be reached. Here we have the beneficence of slavery contrasted boldly with the evils of abolition to the negro. As a slave, he had always abundance of food and clothing. Becoming free, he is not provided for. He is only employed when he is wanted. On the farm and in the factory he will be out of employment at the most inclement season of the year, and as he saves nothing against a cold day, he must become a great sufferer. This is a matter for those who have perpetrated the greatest national crime in our day--the breaking up of the relations between the white and the black man of the South--to consider and reflect upon. If they can find anything gratifying in it, we are sure the negro cannot.
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Nat Berry




“Stoppage of Tobacco Factories,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed March 30, 2023,