1870 June 03
A labor contract between the Arkansas River Valley Immigration Company and a Chinese immigrant named Map Sam in 1870. Map Sam agrees to work on Arkansas plantations for a term of three years in exchange for food, board, and salary.
After 1865 and the end of slavery, the Arkansas Valley Immigration Company starting bringing Chinese immigrants to Arkansas to work on the plantations. This was a cheap way for plantation owners to replace the black labor force in the fields and fight against the increasing power of organized labor, which had become a threat to many plantation owners' businesses. Many of the Chinese laborers left their contracts before completion, but those who stayed in Arkansas started many business that served mostly the African-American communities. Chinese immigration was halted after the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which prevented members of the Chinese community from immigrating into the United States. This act not only stopped the immigration of the Chinese community; it also helped to keep wages low for minority workers. This document shows that the Asian community in Arkansas has deep roots dating back to the early 1870's.
The within Contract, and the Laborer therein mentioned, is hereby assigned to
Nelson McCarty, a member of this Company, he agreeing
to accept the same with all the liabilities and stipulations.
I, Nelson McCarty a member of the Arkansas River
Valley Immigration Company, do hereby agree the within named laborer, and bind
myself hereby to comply with all the stipulations named within. Dated New Orleans, La.,
Note.-The sum of Ten Mexican Dollars has been paid the within named laborer, for which the Company holds his receipt. It is
recommended that the same be deducted from his pay in small installments. This Agreement, made this First day of January, A.D. 1870, being the 30th day of the Eleventh Chinese Month in
the Eighth Year of the the Emperor Tungchi, between Map sam Laborer, a Native of China, and
The Arkansas River Valley Immigration Company, witnesseth[SIC]:
The said Laborer hereby promises and agrees with the said Company that he will Emigrate to the State of Arkansas in the United States of America, by such mode of conveyance or conveyances, and at such time as said Company shall provide and designate, and when there he will labor for said Company, or an individual Member thereof,
under the following conditions and for the considerations hereinafter named.
I.-Then said Labor agrees to work on plantations in said State of Arkansas, doing and
performing any and every kind of work which it is customary to require of field hands.
II.-The said Laborer agrees to work for said Company during the term of three
years, to be counted from the day his wages begin, and his wages shall begin when he shall have arrived in the State of
III.-No labor shall be required of that said Laborer on the Sabbath day, except such as
is necessary in feeling and caring for stock morning and evening; or in case of floods or threatened disasters, to life or
property be may be required to work, but in but in such an event he shall be paid for such labor at the rate of fifty cents per day
IV.-A holiday for three days at Chinese New Year shall be allowed to the said Laborer
V.-The said Laborer agrees to work during each and every working day from Sunrise
to Sunset; an hour to be allowed for dinner, excepts in the months of June, July, August, and September, when two hours
shall be allowed for dinner.
VI.-The said Laborer hereby agrees that he will at all times abey and perform the
lawful orders of said Company, or the Member thereof who may employ him, and faithfully serve during the full period of
three Years, as aforesaid.
VII.-The said Arkansas River Valley Immigration Company, promises and agrees to furnish the said Laborer
with a free passage to their plantations in Arkansas, together with food, clothing and bedding necessary
for the voyage, and at the end of his term of service will find him free transportation back to China, or in lieu thereof (and
only if he desires it) will pay him fifty dollars in American gold coin.
VIII.-The said Arkansas River Vally[SIC] Immigration Company also premises to pay to the said Laborer
the sum of ten dollars advance wages prior to his sailing from China.
IX.-The said Arkansas River Valley Immigration Company will pay or cause to be paid to the said Laborer
the sum of Eight Dollars in American gold coin ($8) for each and every month he may be employed;
Six Dollars of said sum to be paid at the end of every month, and the remaining Two Dollars at the end of the term of three
X.-At every Chinese New Year the said Laborer shall receive from said Company
as a gratuity the sum of Four Dollars($4) in gold coin.
XI.-The said Arkansas River Valley Immigrations Company shall and will provide the said Laborer
with comfortable and healthy accommodations without charge to him. But it is specially[SIC] understood that the
said Laborer shall receive no wages for time lost during sickness.
The said Arkansas River Valley Immigration Company agrees to furnish and give to the said Laborer
an abundance of good and wholesome provisions of the kind he is accustomed to. Or in case of disagreement
he shall be entitled to demand forty five pounds of rice, fifteen pounds of pork, or twenty five pounds of beef, and half a pound
of tea per month. Or should the said Laborer so elect he many supply himself with provisions
and receive in lieu thereof four dollars per month in gold coin.
XIII.-The said Arkansas River Valley Immigration Company agrees to allow said Laborer
the use of One acre of good land rent free, which he may cultivate and enjoy during the time he is employed.
XIV.- The said Laborer agrees that should he leave the service of Company before
the end of his engagement, without lawful cause, then he will forfeit the wages which he may have earned, but which may
remain unpaid, and also all right to be returned to China.
XV.-It is especially agreed and understood that this contract shall not be transferable, and that the said Laborer
shall not be bound to labor for any parties other than the said Arkansas River Valley Immigation[SIC]
Company, or a member of said the Company. Which Company is understood to be an association of planters who desire to
obtain laborers for their own plantations and not for transfer or speculation, and this contract is made with a view to secure
the rights of the said Laborer as well as themselves.
XVI.- The said Arkansas River Valley Immigration Company agrees with the said Laborer
die whilst serving under this agreement then will cause the wages due and unpaid him to be sent to China and paid over to whomsoever he may designate.
XVIII.- It is especially agreed that no other than farm or domestic labor shall be demanded of the said Laborer
In testimony of all of which the parties have hereto set their hands and the Company have affixed their Seal, on the day and date at the beginning written.
Sam B. Adams
4 pages front and back, 8" x 12.75"
Business enterprises; Chinese Community; Immigrants
New Orleans, Orleans Parish. (La.)
English and Chinese
Small manuscript collection, SMC.00001.07a
Arkansas State Archives
Arkansas State Archives
Arkansas River Valley Immigration Co. Labor Contract, Small manuscript collection, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.
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