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A. P. Plimpton
Ashdale, Near Beaufort
August 8th, 1863

Letters from Teachers
New England Freedmen's Association
August 8th, 1863.

The colored people are doing well generally. They are quite industrious, and well informed in all that appertains to
raising the cotton and all the other productions of the soil. They are very much interested in all those products that
form the means of their subsistence. They are laboring assiduously to procure in the coming harvest sufficient to
supply all the wants of the body, with some amount to sell. The Governor of this department in the spring cut off the
clothes and rations from all the people that were able to labor in the fields, and it has proved one of the most
efficient means of promoting industrious habits among them. So long as they saw before them a source from which
they could draw food and clothes, they were contented, and these contributions had a deleterious effect upon them.
Now they are aware that if they do not produce sufficient to support themselves and purchase their clothes, they
must suffer, and they are quite ambitious to get as much as possible. It is quite surprising to see the ingenuity and
tact which many of them exhibit to accomplish that end. They certainly have imbibed largely the spirit of trade and
commerce, by which they increase their revenue. Their little fields are guarded with the strictest care, and the growth
of all the products watched with much eagerness, and the profits calculated by them, as much as the cargo and the
profits to accrue therefrom are, by the great shippers of our commercial marts. They are fast learning the value of
money, and are acquiring an idea of property, whether it be in a horse or land. There is a growing desire among
them to become owners of land. Hundreds of them are guarding their little stores with jealous care, and adding to
their stock all they can, in order to have sufficient to make purchases at the next sales of land. To be able to receive
all the proceeds of their labors, is one of the heights of their ambition. The adjoining plantation to the one where I
live, was purchased last year by the negroes. They have worked it themselves without any direction from white
people. They have exhibited all the skill, thus far, of those that have been worked by the Government. They have a
large field of cotton, and larger field of corn. I see them frequently, and converse with them about it. They are as
proud of their labors as are any of the farmers of the North when success follows a period of industry. They have
planted and brought to good growth by the necessary working three acres of cotton, each of which is, I am told, the
maximum of one person's allotment, when other crops are worked by the same hand to the maximum. This condition
of that plantation excites the emulation of all the surrounding people, and they frequently say that if they could work
this land in the same wav we could see some great crops. I have no doubt that if the negroes owned the land and
could work it with the expectation of receiving all the proceeds, the cotton crop would have been increased one-third,
if not one-half.

So far as the question of subsistence is involved with these people, there is not the least doubt about it They are
abundantly competent, and able and willing, to support themselves, and in a short time many of them will acquire a
competence that will enable them to demand and supply themselves with many of the comforts of civilized life.

A. B. Plimpton
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