Sunday, March 6, 2016

December Meant Slave Hiring Season

There were antebellum Richmond firms that specifically sold slaves, and others that served as brokers for people looking to rent or lease help for a period of time, typically a year term.

The above advertisement ran in the December 17, 1839, issue of the Richmond Enquirer. As previously mentioned, slave hiring was usually established on annual terms, and that most often started as close to the first of the year as possible. In this notice, Richmond broker Robert Hill made it clear that he was ready to serve those in need of hiring slaves or those looking to lease their slaves out. Hill apparently ran his ad a little early in order to give some time for individuals who wanted their slaves leased out the opportunity to "find suitable situations for them." Likewise, he requested those seeking to hire to see him as soon as possible as he already had a number of workers on hand and ready to rent out.

Being a thorough business man, Hill stated his terms straight away as five percent for hiring out slaves. However, to sweeten the deal, he included that his company also attended to medical costs and offered house calls through the year for their enslaved hires at no charge to the renting party.

Lastly, Hill provided the address for his office to make it as easy as possible for potential clients to visit him and set up their situations.

We do not put a second thought into our present day renting of tools. equipment, or a car when the need arises, but in the nineteenth century, businesses such as Robert Hill and Company offered unpaid human help when needed, and seemingly with as little moral concern.

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