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Contracts for the present year have been almost universally of the same nature namely working for a share of the crops,and drawing supplies on credit. This system having proved in almost every case disastrous alike to planters and laborers. I would respectfully recommend a system of monthly wages to be limited by law, leaving it optional at the end of each month to review or close the contract. Also, it would in my opinion greatly improve the present condition of affairs, to require of the Freedmen a recommendation from their last employers. The system of contracting for a whole year encouraged the Freedmen in habit of indolence, waste and neglect of their duties, while it prevents the planters from discharging incompetent hands unless there are specific charges against them. [[margin]] Nature of Contracts for Present Year[[/margin]] On the other hand, if the planter does not attend to the welfare of his laborers, they may be dissatisfied without being able to charge any open violation of the contract sufficient to release them from it. The power to change at the end of each month, and the necessity of obtaining a recommendation, would stimulate the Freedmen, while it would allow the planters to make a fair trial of his hands before entering upon longer engagements. Much complaint having been made to me of the lost time of the Freedmen, especially late hours in the morning during cotton picking time. I would also suggest that the hours for labor and for meals be named in the contracts. Two years fair trial of the old system, seemed to prove conclusively that some change is necessary in new contracts for the protection of white as well as colored people.
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