Marion, Perry County [Ala.] October 28th 1866.
Sir:– I suppose you are aware of the failure of crops generally in Alabama this year. Much suffering for food will be the result, unless the poor Black and white people are provided for by the public authorities.
In this section of country, on a large majority of farms, not enough has been produced to pay the Freedmen their wages where the contract was for money– And where a part of the crop was given, the Freedmens part is so small it will not give them any means of support.– And in most cases the farmers advanced to the laboures early in the season very liberally, and now find on a division of the crops, that the hired persons are all in their debt without any means of paying–
This state of affairs is extremely hard on both the Farmers and Freedmen. This, too, has been a very sickly season and the negroes are generally indebted to physic[an]s, & are now unable to pay.– On my plantations of about 90 hands I contracted to give one fourth of the crops & furnish them with good houses, fuel and full rations and give them such medical attention as my superintendent and self could give– without my knowledge or endorsement the hands imployed a physician to visit the plantation and pay him Six Dollars for every hand on it– The crop is now all gatherd & sold and from advances I had made, I find every hand in my debt, from $20 to $90 each. The physician thinks I am bound to pay to him his Bill– I desire to know your opinion in the case. The imployment of the physician was a voluntary act of the Freedmen months after they went into my imploy– you will much oblige me if you will write to me on the subect,– Respectfully
Direct to Marion. Perry County Ala
John Strain to Genl. Swayne, 28 Oct. 1866, Unregistered Letters Received, series 9, AL Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives. No reply has been found in the assistant commissioner's letters-sent volumes.
Published in Land and Labor, 1866–1867, p. 686.