EXPLANATION OF RECORDS AND ACCOUNTS.
[column on left of page]
The pages marked A, constitute the daily record of all
that transpires upon the plantation, worthy of being record-
ed--such as the kind of work being done, and the number
of hands engaged in it; when plowing, planting, sowing,
scraping, etc., began; when the first forms, blossoms, and
open bolls appeared; the state of the weather and forward-
ness of the crops; the first appearance and continued pro-
gress of the caterpillar and of other insects which injure
the crops, with every fact of importance relative to them;
the behavior, good or bad, of the negroes; and every
other item which may be of value for future reference.
Blank spaces are left for the name of the plantation, date,
etc. The margin is intended for noting the range of the
thermometer, barometer, etc.
It is important that the entries be made on the evening
of each day. If persevered in, such a duty soon becomes
B. In the first edition, these inventories occurred
monthly. In the present one this has been altered, by the
advice of experienced Planters and Overseers, so that they
occur quarterly. The one on the first page is of peculiar
importance; being, in fact, the Overseer's receipt for the
property placed in his charge. Much vexation and loss
will be spared the non-resident Planter, and very often
much of undeserved blame to the Overseer, if the correct
keeping of these inventories be strictly enforced.
C. These records come in about the last week in July,
or first of August, when cotton-picking usually begins.
Each week's picking being added up at the bottom of the
page and carried forward to the next, shows at any time
the quantity already housed--provided the weighing has
been done with a sufficient degree of correctness.
D. Here is a list of those articles given out to the ne-
groes during the year, for which they are required to be
individually accountable. It also forms the Overseer's
receipt for the expenditure of most of the supplies placed
under his charge for the use of the place. A few blank
spaces are left, for additional items in this and in some of
the following tables.
E. Forms the Overseer's record of the supplies of every
kind, which may be delivered to him when he takes charge
of a plantation, or sent to him during the year; with the
date on which he received them. It is well, also, to men-
tion in the journal, their arrival "per steamer so-and-so,"
or, "per wagon and teamster ---, from the town of
---;" also, whether they agree with the bill of lading,
or teamster's memorandum.
F. Will afford strong proof of the good or bad manage-
ment of Planter or Overseer. That management could
not have been good, where the list of deaths during the
year exceeds that of the births; and especially where the
deaths consist, in a great measure, of those children whose
names are to be found in another column.
G. Is a check upon the physician's account; and if
correctly kept, over a wide extent of country, forms an
invaluable record of important facts.
H. Here, the Overseer, as he weighs each lot of cotton
to be sent off, enters the number of each bale, with its
weight at the gin-house. The Planter, when he receives
his account-sales, will transfer the weight he finds there to
the other column. We feel confident that if this be done
for a season or two, by a majority of those Planters ship-
ping to New Orleans, a demand will be made, so peremp-
tory as to be irresistible, for a sufficient range. of sheds
along the levee at that city, to protect all the cotton received
there during any week of the season. More care will be
exacted of the shippers at the several landings, and of the
boats, to save the bales from the injury they receive, and
which is the plea for the heavy dockage frequently made
by the weighers when the cotton is sold.
I. In this table, the PLANTER HIMSELF will make a care-
ful record of all the negroes upon the plantation, in families;
stating their ages as nearly as possible, and their cash value
at the commencement of the year. At its close, he will
again enter their individual value at that time, adding the
year's increase, and omitting those that may have died.
[column on right of page]
The difference, if any, will be transferable to the balance-
sheet, as we shall presently explain.
J. The Planter's annual record, or inventory of his
K. A like inventory of tools, implements, etc.
L. A statement of the several products of the plantation.
None of these require any explanation here.
M. Is a statement of the several sales of cotton, con-
stituting the year's crop; to be made by the Planter, for
his own information. It is made up in part of page H,
and in part from the account-sales.
N. A condensed account of the expenses of the plan-
O. The balance-sheet requires some explanation. It is
a statement of account, as it were, between the Planter and
his plantation, in which he charges it with every item of
investment and outlay; and gives it credit on the opposite
side, for what of these articles may be forthcoming at the
close of the year, the produce then on hand, and the pro-
ceeds of what may have been sold. Thus:--
The plantation is justly chargeable with its own fair
cash value at the commencement of the year; and with one
year's interest on the same at six per cent. No course of
farming can be profitable, which will not pay a fair rate of
interest upon the value of the land employed. If, during
the year, the Planter has expended time and money in
ditching, hedging, and manuring, or in building and re-
pairing, and in clearing land, the amount stated as its value
at the close of the year, may reasonably be more than that
charged at its commencement. If, however, an opposite
system has been pursued--crop after crop removed without
any return being made in the shape of manure, much of
the soil washed away for want of proper tillage, the fences
become poorer and fencing timber scarcer, whilst no im-
provements of moment have been made--the property
cannot be justly valued at as much as it was at the begin-
ning of the year; and thus the difference between the two
valuations is so much out of the year's profits.
And so of negroes, stock, and implements. It will be
readily understood that each year's crop is chargeable with
the wear and tear of teams and implements. It is charge-
able, with equal justice, with any depreciation in the value
of the negroes, occasioned by overwork and improper man-
agement; in the effort, perhaps, to make an extra crop,
independent of every other consideration. On the other
hand, should the number of children have greatly increased
during the year; the strength and usefulness of the old
been sustained by kind treatment and care; the youngsters
taught to be useful, and perhaps some of the men instructed
in trades, and the women in home manufactures, the
increased value of the entire force will form a handsome
addition to the side of profits. The plantation is neither
charged nor credited with the value of any implements and
machines made at home, as they will appear in the credit of
"the number and the value at the close of the year."
The produce on hand at the commencement of the year,
at its cash value on the place, is one very considerable item
to the debit of the season's crop. Whilst the net return
of that sold and the cash value of all that remains on hand
at the close of the year are, of course, passed to the credit
side. A pretty close estimate should be made of the dif-
ferent kinds of produce, either by actual counting, measur-
ing, and weighing, or by calculating the number of loads,
etc. As an instance, we may name corn. If closely slip-
shucked, the full of a common flour-barrel will shell out a
bushel, with very little variation. But if gathered in with
all of the shuck, and perhaps all of the foot-stalk, it will
fall very far short.
It would have been an easy matter to have added many
useful records, inventories, and tables to what we have given
The difficulty was, to leave them out--the great object
being to condense and simplify. Planters will generally
keep private statements of their accounts, their liabilities,
the expense of their families, and so on; which would,
moreover, be entirely out of place here.