Menu
Image 1 of
Zoom In
Zoom Out
Fullscreen

Labor contract between Abraham Bledsoe and Henry Bledsoe (freedman), commencing January 19, 1866 (Maysville, Kentucky)

Instead of granting newly freed African Americans their own plots of land, the Freedmen’s Bureau instructed them to enter into written labor contracts with planters—often their former owners. This contract between Kentucky employer Abraham Bledsoe and his former slave Henry Bledsoe sets conditions to be met by both parties and includes penalties for failure to comply.

Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, National Archives and Records Administration

Labor contract between Abraham Bledsoe and Henry Bledsoe (freedman), commencing January 19, 1866 (Maysville, Kentucky)

The Freedmen's Bureau - 2

In 1865 Congress created the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, known as the Freedmen's Bureau, to provide for the needs of displaced and formerly enslaved persons. The Freedmen's Bureau provided humanitarian, educational, and legal services. It also supervised labor contracts and redistributed abandoned lands. Separately, Congress chartered the Freedman's Bank to encourage savings. Four African Americans elected to the House in the 19th century––Representatives John Mercer Langston, Jeremiah Haralson, Josiah Walls, and Robert C. De Large—had worked for the Freedmen's Bureau.