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In Their Own Words

March 05, 1858

Petition Opposed Hiring Out of Skilled Slaves

It was not uncommon for slave owners to hire out skilled slaves for non-agricultural jobs. Not unexpectedly, some white workers objected to the practice, as evidenced by the following petition to the Atlanta city council signed by two hundred citizens:

“We, the undersigned, would respectfully represent to your honorable body that there exists in the city of Atlanta, a number of men who, in the opinion of your memorialists, are of no benefit to the city. We refer to negro mechanics whose masters reside in other places, and who pay nothing to the support of the city government, and whose negro mechanics can afford to underbid the regular resident citizen mechanics of your city to their great injury and without benefit to the city in any way; we most respectfully request your honorable body to take the matter in hand, and by your action in the premises afford such protection to the resident citizen mechanics of your city, as your honorable body may deem meet in the premises, and in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.”

Source: Franklin M. Garrett, Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1969 reprint of 1954 original volume), Vol. I, p. 434.