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In Their Own Words

January 10, 1848

Plantation Owner Gave Instructions to Overseer

From Naples, Italy, planter Charles Manigault wrote to Jesse Cooper, the new overseer of his two plantations just north of Savannah:

“I received a letter from Mr. Habersham informing me of his having engaged you to attend to my planting affairs and interests. I now write you a few lines to give you some of my rules and regulations in relation to my concerns now under your charge, which have been always strictly attended to. My Negroes have the reputation of being orderly and well disposed, but like all Negroes they are up to anything if not watched and attended to. I expect the kindest treatment of them from you, for this has always been a principal thing with me. I never suffer them to work off the place or to exchange work with any plantation… . It has always been my plan to give out allowances to the Negroes on Sunday in preference to any other day, because this has much influence in keeping them at home that day, whereas if they received allowance on Saturday for instance some of them would be off with it that same evening to the shops to trade and perhaps would not get back until Monday morning. I allow no strange Negro to take a wife on my place and none of mine to keep a boat and should there be one belonging to me at the landing I request you to have it locked and keep the key yourself. Lock up in the mill any Negro canoe found anywhere on my place… .”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), Neither More Nor Less Than Men: Slavery in Georgia (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1993), p. 122.