Butler Taylor Co. Ga. February 12″ 1867
Colonel, I have the honor to report the following case and to ask your approval or disapproval of my action.
On the first day of January 1867, Lethe, freedwoman, contracted to work for a planter during the year. Since the date of her contract she has married. Her husband applies for permission to take her away from the service of her employer on the ground that the act of marriage gives him the full control of his wife, that when married all her rights were merged in his. and therefore it is claimed,–by the legal advisors of the freedman,–that his wife is no longer bound by her contract.
I have denied his right to the full services of his wife till she has fulfilled her contract made previous to marriage, and have decided that marriage does not warrant a violation of a labor contract.
My predecessor informs me that when freedmen produced evidence of marriage he annulled the contracts of their wives if they so elected. Very Respectfully Your Obt Serv't
Jerome B Davenport
Jerome B Davenport to Col. C C Sibley, 12 Feb. 1867, Unregistered Letters Received, series 632, GA Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives. “The Asst Com'r directs me to reply that your action in the case of the freedwoman Lethe is Approved,” an adjutant informed Davenport on February 15. “The contract she made with her employer is none the less binding because of her marriage.” (Capt Eugene Pickett to J. B. Davenport, Esqr, 15 Feb. , vol. 16, p. 43, Press Copies of Letters Sent, series 625, GA Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives.)
Published in Land and Labor, 1866–1867, pp. 632–33.