Excerpt: ...That the task system was extended sporadically into the South Carolina Piedmont, is indicated by a letter of a certain Thomas Parker of the Abbeville district, in 1831,39 which not only described his methods but embodied an essential plantation precept. He customarily tasked his hoe hands, he said, at rates determined by careful ...Read MoreExcerpt: ...That the task system was extended sporadically into the South Carolina Piedmont, is indicated by a letter of a certain Thomas Parker of the Abbeville district, in 1831,39 which not only described his methods but embodied an essential plantation precept. He customarily tasked his hoe hands, he said, at rates determined by careful observation as just both to himself and the workers. These varied according to conditions, but ranged usually about three quarters of an acre. He continued: "I plant six acres of cotton to the hand, which is about the usual quantity planted in my neighborhood. I do not make as large crops as some of my neighbors. I am content with three to three and a half bales of cotton to the hand, with my provisions and pork; but some few make four bales, and last year two of my neighbors made five bales to the hand. In such cases I have vanity enough, however, to attribute this to better lands. I have no overseer, nor indeed is there one in the neighborhood. We personally attend to our planting, believing that as good a manure as any, if not the best we can apply to our fields, is the print of the master's footstep." Footnote 39: Southern Agriculturist, March. 1831, reprinted in the American Farmer, XIII, 105, 106. CHAPTER XIV PLANTATION MANAGEMENT Typical planters though facile in conversation seldom resorted to their pens. Few of them put their standards into writing except in the form of instructions to their stewards and overseers. These counsels of perfection, drafted in widely separated periods and localities, and varying much in detail, concurred strikingly in their main provisions. Their initial topic was usually the care of the slaves. Richard Corbin of Virginia wrote in 1759 for the guidance of his steward: "The care of negroes is the first thing to be recommended, that you give me timely notice of their wants that they may be provided with all necessarys. The breeding wenches more particularly you must instruct the overseers...Read Less
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