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In Their Own Words

February 17, 1739

Stephens Frustrated with Servants

William Stephens wrote in his journal how frustrated both he and his son were at the laziness of the men hired to work their land in colonial Georgia. Perhaps it was situations like this that eventually convinced his son to join the Malcontents - the group of colonists who wanted (among other things) to allow slavery into Georgia:

“…This was a Day that gave me great Vexation and Uneasiness in my own little Affairs, occasioned by the Baseness of a vile Crew of Servants, who had been a long while a Torment to me by their past Be- haviour; but were now growing every Day from bad to worse, and become truly an intolerable Burden to me; for it was evident, that for many Months past, very few (if any) of them had earned by their Labour Half the Value of what they eat: But some weakened with a long Sickness, and others possessed with a stubborn Laziness, which no Cure could yet be found for, whether of Lenity or Severity, made me almost despair now of getting any Good from them this Season, which was so far advanced, as to call upon every one who had any Eye towards planting, to be prepared speedily: And out of ten which I had once had, who last Year worked with a Good-will, and wanted for no sort of Encouragement from me, I could not at this Time depend on more than three or four to have any Service from: So that instead of reducing the Number of Acres already Cleared, into perfect good Order, and cultivating it in the best Manner (which is usually the Work of the second Year) I doubted, after all the fine Things I had been promising myself, whether or not I should accomplish the Half of it; which was Matter of great Mortification to me: And my Son grew so impatient at our being thus abused, that I could hardly persuade him to look towards what they were doing any more, after the Pains he had been all this while taking, to that Degree, that I never could expedl a Day’s Labour from the best of them to equal that, for Example’s Sake, he wrought with his own Hands often.”

Source: Allen D. Candler, ed. The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia, Vol. IV, Stephens’ Journal 1737-1740, Atlanta, GA, 1906, p. 282.