I researched the "Freedmen Contracts" in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and found contracts of many newly freed slaves who signed the contracts my making their mark (x) to work on plantations in exchange for shelter, clothes, tools and money. In many cases tenant farmer didn't received what they were promised according to the contract. "Children as young as five years old made their mark bonding themselves to an agreement that they couldn't read or understand just like their parents and other newly freed slaves on the plantation who signed the contract."
Many had no idea that they was entering into a new form of slavery called peonage and involuntary servitude. A new system of credit was created and some of your family members had to borrow against the crops. Crop liens was a system equal to that of sharecropping.
|Freedmen Bureau Contract/Yazoo, Mississippi|
|Crop Lien of Jasper and Emma Harrell|