Edmund worked as a hired slave laborer on the Monticello farm from 1806 to 1810. In 1806, Jefferson’s overseer, John Holmes Freeman, agreed to an annual hire of $590 for Edmund and eight other slaves from the Daingerfield family, who lived at Coventry plantation in Spotsylvania County.1 Edmund, whose annual hire cost Jefferson $70, was likely one of “10. or 12. laboring men employed in a little farming” who worked under the supervision of Freeman, and, later, overseer Edmund Bacon.2 This “gang” of “jobbers,” of which Edmund was likely a member, undertook projects as diverse as tending the wheat crop, building plantation roads, felling timber, and terracing the vegetable garden. By 1810, Edmund was receiving 1 ¼ bread ration per week3 and living at Lego farm, having “taken a wife in the family and had a child.” Edmund may have been married to Lewis’s Sally (b.1792), who was then living at Lego. In October, Edmund was “engaged for several days in the easiest work, such as securing the fodder & tops, and stacking them,” when he collapsed suddenly and died. A doctor later pronounced that it was “a case of hernia, which he had had for several years in so slight a degree that he had concealed it from every body even from his wife.” Jefferson deemed Edmund “a most excellent fellow” and had “contemplated the proposing to purchase him.”4
- Thomas Jefferson to Daingerfield, Dec.13, 1808 and Mar. 11, 1809; Jefferson's Memorandum Books, vol. II: 1185, 1251.
- Thomas Jefferson to Wilson Cary Nicholas, Jun. 5, 1805.
- “Bread List, Feb. 1810,” Jefferson's Farm Book, 134.
- Thomas Jefferson to Nathaniel Hooe, Oct. 20, 1810.
Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello: Paradox of Liberty
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