Negro Free Labor- Important Statement

January 3, 1866


A new system of labor arises in the South in which African Americans essentially become sharecroppers who cultivate land owned by a white man and receive a portion of his profits.


The commissioner of freedmen's affairs on Saturday received the following letter from a distinguished ex-general of the Confederate army, who has several large plantations in the State of Arkansas, and on which he is engaged in the cultivation of cotton: "It afford me great pleasure to inform you that I have been successful beyond my most sanguine expectation in engaging labor for all my plantation sin Arkansas and Tennessee. I have already engaged about four hundred freedmen, and have full confidence in making a success of the year's work. I have given to the freemen, in all cases, a part of the crop of cotton, and I allow them land for cultivation for their own use without charge therefor. I could have engaged one thousand laborers, if I had needed that number. My brother, who adopted my plan of labor, has also succeeded admirably in the system of free labor. I have put one large plantation under white laborers from the North upon precisely the same terms I engaged freedmen. I felt anxious to try the system of white labor in growing cotton, and there I engaged labor of the character for one plantation. Knowing the interest you feel in success of the system of the freedmen, and feeling grateful for you kindness to me, I deem it a duty to communicate the result of my work thus far."
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Justin Barlow


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“Negro Free Labor- Important Statement,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed June 1, 2023,