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In Their Own Words

June 28, 1865

Diary Entry on Problems Facing Former Slaves

Eliza Frances Andrews wrote in her diary of more problems facing former slaves, and how her father tried to deal with them.

“…Father called up all his servants the other day and told the men that if they would go back to the plantation in Mississippi and work there the rest of the year, he would give them seven dollars a month, besides their food and clothing; but if they chose to remain with him here, he would not be able to pay them wages till after Christmas. They were at liberty, he told them, either to stay with him for the present, on the old terms, or to take their freedom and hire out to somebody else if they preferred; he would give them a home and feed them till they could do better for themselves. In the altered state of his fortunes it will be impossible for him to keep up an establishment of twenty or thirty house servants-and children, who are no longer his property. The poor ignorant creatures have such extravagant ideas as to the value of their services that they are sadly discontented with the wages they are able to get. There is going to be great suffering among them, for Southerners will not employ the faithless ones if they can help it, and the Yankees cannot take care of all the idle ones, though they may force us to do it in the end. I feel sorry for the poor negroes. They are not to blame for taking freedom when it is brought to their very doors and almost forced upon them. Anybody would do the same, still when they go I can’t help feeling as if they are deserting us for the enemy, and it seems humiliating to be compelled to bargain and haggle with our own servants about wages. I am really attached to father’s negroes, and even when they leave us, as Alfred, Arch, and Harrison have done, cannot help feeling interested in their welfare and hoping they will find good places. …”

Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1908), pp. 318-319.