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Controlling The efficacy/inefficacy of labour during the transition accounting in controlling labour during the transition from slavery 751 in the United States and British West Indies Richard K. Fleischman
John Carroll University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Received 19 July 2008 Revised 22 September 2009, 11 August 2010 Accepted 18 October 2010

David Oldroyd
Newcastle University Business School, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and

Thomas N. Tyson
St John Fisher College, Rochester, New York, USA
Abstract
Purpose – The aim of this paper is to focus on the transition from slavery to wage workers in the American South and British West Indies, and the corresponding nature of the reporting and control procedures that were established in both venues, in order to create a disciplined workforce, and establish regular relations between employees and employers. It seeks to explain the differences in labour control practices between the two regions and to discuss the impact on these practices of accounting and other quantitative techniques c.1760-1870. In particular, it aims to consider the central role played by government in the process. Design/methodology/approach – The study forms part of an archival research project, in which the authors have consulted archives in four Southern States (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and North Carolina), three Caribbean island nations, formerly British colonies (Antigua, Barbados, and Jamaica), and record repositories the length and breadth of Great Britain. The records of the Freedmen’s Bureau (FB), located in the National Archives, Washington, DC, have been likewise visited. These primary sources have been supported by the extensive secondary literature on slavery and its aftermath. Findings – In the USA, accounting for labour in the transition from slavery was typically ad hoc and inconsistent, whereas in the BWI it was more organised, detailed, and displayed greater uniformity – both within and across colonies. The role of the British Colonial Office (BCO) was crucial here. A range of economic and political factors are advanced to explain the differences between the two locations. The paper highlights the limitations of accounting controls and economic incentives in disciplining labour without the presence of physical coercion in situations where there is a refusal on the part of the workers to cooperate. Originality/value – There is a relatively small volume of secondary literature comparing US and BWI slavery and its legacy. Likewise, the accounting implications of labour-control practices, during the transition from slavery to freedom, are largely understudied. The research also points to a need to assess the decision-influencing capabilities of management accounting systems in other transitional labour settings. Keywords Government accounting, Labour control, Slavery, Emancipation, United States of America, Barbados, Jamaica, Antigua, Employees, Employers, Control, Accounting Paper type Research paper

The authors gratefully acknowledge the helpful comments of Bill Wootton and the two referees. They also wish to acknowledge innumerable unnamed archivists at various national archives and university libraries, who facilitated their compilation of key primary-source materials.

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal Vol. 24 No. 6, 2011 pp. 751-780 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0951-3574 DOI 10.1108/09513571111155537

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Introduction Slavery officially ended in the British Empire in 1834 and in the USA in 1863, although in practice it is difficult to identify a clear break. The paper focuses on the transition from slavery to wage workers in both venues and the corresponding nature of the reporting and control procedures that were established in order to create a disciplined workforce and establish regular relations between employees and employers. The paper seeks to explain the differences in labour control practices between the two regions and to discuss the impact on these practices of accounting and other quantitative techniques[1]. In particular, it considers the central role played by government in the process. The issue of inculcating the working population with a sense of labour discipline in the early to mid-19th century was not peculiar to the former slave economies given the speed of industrialisation in Britain that drew a population grounded in the agricultural rhythms of life into an unfamiliar industrial environment (Thompson, 1967). In the USA too there was a mass influx of agricultural labour from Europe, supplying new industry from the mid-1800s on. Certainly the New England textile industry and American railroading were adding untrained workers in significant numbers, particularly through immigration (Foner, 2006, pp. 417-18). The textile industry, for example, was especially fertile ground for accounting developments in the early 1800s[2]. It is evident that the British government in particular regarded disciplining ex-slaves in the colonies and the working population at home as connected as it employed similar tactics in both cases, for example penal reform and anti vagrancy legislation (Holt, 1992, p. 37; Paton, 2004). In the case of the USA poor Whites could fall victim of legislation originally enacted after the Civil War to discipline ex-slaves (Waldrep, 1996). Instilling factory discipline into former agricultural workers was not the problem in the Southern States of the USA or the BWI, however. The South had little or no industry to speak of during Reconstruction and like the BWI remained predominantly agrarian. What was distinctive about the slave economies in terms of labour discipline was that notions of paying the workforce or disciplining them other than through physical means such as restraint or flogging were largely alien. Although corporal punishment remained an option for disciplining recalcitrant workers even after Abolition – the British Colonial Office (BCO) kept statistics, whereas the situation is not so clear for the American South – abolishing slavery meant that workers and employers had to adapt to a radically different working environment involving contracts, incentives and free market economics. Furthermore, the change was imposed at a distance by alien central authorities and not welcomed by plantation owners locally. In the USA, the authority was the Unionist government in Washington in the wake of its crushing defeat of the slave-holding states in the Civil War. In the case of the BWI, it was the Imperial government in London. Here, the bitter pill of Abolition was sweetened by a £20 million compensation fund. But, the local plantocracy remained hostile. The situation was further complicated by racial overtones in which White employers regarded their dark-skinned workers as racially inferior and believed they had a natural right to exploit them. In the USA great efforts were made by certain members of the South’s old “aristocratic classes” to nullify the right of freed slaves to vote through murder and intimidation (Foner, 1988, p. 432). These self same parties were in many cases the employers. Indeed, Foner (1988, p. 428) noted cases where the Ku Klux Klan was

deployed in the South to restore “labor discipline on White-owned farms and plantations” by forcing ex-slaves to turn out for work or to accept reduced crop-shares. Ex-slaves, for their part, railed at the idea of being compelled through political or economic pressures to continue working for their former racial oppressors (Foner, 1988, pp. 341-3, 425-8, 442; Franklin and Moss, 2000, pp. 275-6; Shapiro, 1988, pp. 5-29). It follows that the issue of labour control in the American South and BWI following Abolition was more complex than in the industrial regions of Britain and the USA. It went beyond making the workers more efficient or even about persuading them to work in the first place. It was concerned with creating a new social order of willing, habitual, and economically motivated waged workers. To be sustained, it required a fundamental redefinition of people’s expectations and obligations. From an accounting perspective, the issue was not just about employers establishing control procedures or surveillance systems within the workplace. It was about central government imposing layers of regulation, accounting requirements, and social accountability mechanisms – all of which were quite remarkable in an otherwise age of laissez faire, at least as far as economic elites were concerned. The property rights of citizens were sacrosanct in British and American law and not open to interference by government (Oldroyd et al., 2008). National accounting for these countries, in the sense of government “measuring and reporting the effects of the activities of the economic actors within a nation”, was mainly a product of the twentieth century (De Beelde, 2009, pp. 354-355). De Beelde (1999, p. 356) cites works by Irving Fisher, Maurice Copeland and Robert Martin as being influential in the 1930s in that regard. However, the governmental accounting described in this study formed part of a much earlier initiative by the British government in particular to manage a problem of national significance – for the British the fear was that the sugar trade would collapse following emancipation – through the collection of macro economic data[3]. In the USA too, the sub-commissioners of the Freedmen’s Bureau compiled macro economic reports on the condition of the freedmen in their districts (Record Group 105, roll 42). The manner in which accounting was used by the British government to forward its colonial interests in this instance was also distinctive. Most prior research on the subject has focussed on governmental accounting as a technology for dispossessing or manipulating indigenous communities. Hence, accounting was implicated in attempts by government in Canada to convert First Nation Americans from nomadic hunters to settled farmers (Neu, 1999). In Australia, governmentally imposed accountability systems remain to this day a means of restricting the access of Aboriginal Australians to resources (Gibson, 2000). In New Zealand, accounting calculations provided the justification for government in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to misappropriate Maori land (Hooper and Kearins, 2008). The present study is therefore unusual because it reveals that it was not just the behaviour of the dispossessed Africans and their descendents that the colonial power could seek to influence through accounts, but that of the ruling White classes also[4]. As the paper describes, this was attempted through the imposition of accountability mechanisms. Here again the study is notable given that previous research relating to the public sector has tended to focus on the means by which executive authorities were held accountable from below rather than the other way round (e.g. Coombs and Edwards, 1993; Funnell, 2007; Holden et al., 2009). Thus, for accounting historians, comparison between the plantation economies of the BWI and American South allows us to understand more about the use of

Controlling labour during the transition 753

to use modern behavioural terminology (e. The major points of difference between the two locations are that plantations in the BWI tended to be larger than in the USA – typically they were nearly double the size in terms of both acreage and numbers of slaves – and crucially. highlighting the significance of absentee ownership in the BWI. as the paper will discuss. It is probably not accidental that of the two regions.AAAJ 24. the US government had the West Indian experience to draw on if it wished. ” as representative of the FB’s activities in the Confederate and Border States. we looked for well-established plantations whose life-span stretched from the time before Abolition became a threat through the Apprenticeship period and beyond in order to trace how the record keeping responded to the changes. 2003. The study builds on previous work by Tyson et al. in particular central government’s attempts in the two regions to regularise labour relations and create a willing and disciplined workforce. 3) confirm that the “major activities of the Freedmen’s Bureau in Mississippi generally resembled those conducted in other states”. In the introduction to the collection.g. physical coercion being the main means[5]. Indeed. As far as the West Indian side of the comparison is concerned. Therefore. Sprinkle. For the purposes of this study. The paper continues with a comparison of the accounting records and labour control procedures on plantations prior to emancipation. economic incentives and accounting controls played a small part in disciplining the workforce. These were neighbouring regions on the American continent. (2005). the National Archives and Records Administration (2004. from an accounting perspective. As Paton (2004. For the American side of the comparison particular use was made of the records of the Freedmen’s Bureau (FB) housed in the National Archives in Washington. management accounting played a very limited role overall in plantation management in both the USA and BWI. slavery is best understood if the transition to freedom is studied as well. we selected the “Records of the Field Offices for the State of Mississippi . the most effective monitoring regime was established in the BWI where. . It extends the prior study and makes the additional judgement of how the situation panned out after the end of Apprenticeship in 1838. as well as in the District of Columbia. 5) has argued. The differences between the two localities are particularly interesting given that emancipation in the American South occurred some 30 years later than in the BWI. It then examines the post emancipation period. . p. Management accounting information and labour control pre-emancipation Under slavery. p. as well as how it compared to the American position both before and after emancipation. The holdings of the FB are immense. which examined accounting control procedures in the BWI during the interim “Apprenticeship” period that followed the abolition of slavery by the British government in 1833. p.6 754 accounting by governmental agencies in the nineteenth century in regulating and controlling parties who otherwise would be unaccountable for the consequences of their actions because they could not be observed. there existed a long tradition of absentee ownership and reporting events at a distance. Finally. The distance from events of the controlling central authorities alluded to above were significant here. there is the question of how effective the accounts were as decision-influencing information. 290). they were almost exclusively absentee-owned and therefore . and the extent to which the USA replicated British policy in the Caribbean provides a contemporary comment on the British arrangements. given that output declined in both venues and the workforce was not maintained.

an array of officials was involved in BWI in compiling the larger volume of accounting documents demanded by the owners in Britain to safeguard their investment. than the American ones where “management by walking about” remained an option and thus there was far less need for formalised accounting reports to assess how things were going. 1988. therefore. Moreover. An abstract of the accounts of the Lowther Plantation in Barbados in 1826 is unusual in basing the agent’s commission of five percent on the surplus of income over expenditure (BL: 43507/7-9). plantation managers relied primarily on threatened or actual physical coercion to drive desired behaviour. In the American South. 2005. slaves and livestock were required. commission was calculated on gross product (Higman. Fleischman et al. A delay of ten months was exceptional. 2002). 209). mules and cattle with explanations required for lives lost. which formed the basis of their remuneration (Higman. 1995. meaning that he alone would have had a full picture of the operations (Higman. Controlling labour during the transition 755 . A letter in 1803 from PJ Miles of Bristol to John Tharp of Jamaica took two months to arrive (CRO: R55/7/128 (c) 6/7/10). p. it was usual for the various agents to report solely to the absentee proprietor rather than to each other. 112. There was clearly much more of a reporting culture on the BWI plantations. 81). (3) improving the quality and quantity of the sugar and rum. In most cases. however. Fleischman and Macve. Hoskin and Macve. 128). p. A letter dated April 1796 from James Stothert to his attorney[6] David Hood indicates that he was still awaiting a reply to his letter of the previous July (NAS: GD 241/189/1). 2005. since piece rates and measured output were being documented and in use in both the US and British industrial sectors well before the end of their respective slave eras (e.. the plantation owner himself. and the obligation on attorneys and overseers to account to the owners for any deaths occurring helped safeguard the slaves’ health and safety albeit to a limited degree (Fleischman et al. 2005. 101-102. Hence. Other key reports demanded by the owners in Britain were annual inventories of the slaves. pp. the norm being five months for the round-trip (Higman. The incentive for the agents therefore was to maximise output rather than profits. such as for probate or loan collateralisation purposes. 2008).g. Even in the BWI. Oldroyd et al. Practice on plantations mirrored what was recommended in published textbooks. the accounts that were produced focused on the gross product of the plantation rather than return on investment. Slaves became particularly valuable following the abolition of the slave trade with Africa in 1807 which made finding replacements much harder.wholly reliant on agents. The potential impediment to managing the operations that this created was exacerbated by the huge delays between sending and receiving letters. 42). maintained the routine accounting records with “appraisers” called in from time to time when more formal valuations of the plant. What seems to have been absent from the BWI internal accounts was a detailed attention to cost control and labour productivity even though procedures to monitor costs must have been widely known. Most of the American plantations were owner-managed. the eight principal objectives of Thomas Roughley’s (1823) guide for Jamaican planters are listed as: (1) the increase of crops. Meanwhile.. sometimes supported by the chief overseer. p. Attorneys were held to account principally through “accounts of produce”. (2) preserving capital. Instead. 2005.. 2004a. 1986.

p. Higman. 2005. shipping the produce in a proper condition. such as acceptable ratios of yields to acreage. Starting his career in the 1760s he systematically built up his family’s plantation interests over the following 40 years through a policy of land acquisitions and capital improvements (Tenison. sugar to rum. mills to distance. 100). the provision of adequate food and care for the livestock. slaves and plant rather than improving efficiency (Higman. For example. pp. 198. David Hood (NAS: GD 241/189/1). 330-331) Book-keeping Methodized which was popular in both the USA and BWI specified the “chief” plantation account-books as the boiling house book. John Mair’s (1763. the Jamaican planter. 2005. for your life proves that economy does not always consist in expanding little (Emphasis in the original – CRO: R/55/128/B/1/7). Planters also had a number of norms at their disposal. 205. Proprietors did interrogate their agents in the West Indies about the need for new expenditure. 201.d. typified this expansionist mentality. Similarly. The only concession to costs in these books is that the plantation book was noted as containing “an account of all the provisions and other things bought. n. 99. ex post profit statements and budgets were not usually prepared. pp. apart from inventories and accounts of output and sales the only other type of report produced on a regular basis by plantation managers prior to emancipation was the “accounts current” which listed payments and receipts and outstanding debts (Higman. keeping the buildings and manufacturing utensils in good order. pp. transport costs to distance. but detailed costings of the activities. with the emphasis being on keeping track of personal accounts. slaves to working hours. developed through experience. it is not that Tharp was disinterested in cost savings. the number of mules bought and lost was a constant bone of contention between James Stothert and his agent. cattle. John Tharp (1744-1804). 111. Reducing costs or improving productivity were not explicitly identified as objectives.6 756 (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) the comfort of the slaves. 2005. . 223). learning his trade as a planter in the 1760s before the abolition movement had started to gain ground and at a time when slave workers could be physically coerced to work long and hard.AAAJ 24. A prudent and austere man who was continually exhorting his children to self-restraint. 1971. But. the still house book and the plantation book. pp. In a situation where expanding gross output was regarded as the main measure of success. and slaves to cattle (Codrington papers. all of which focused on recording gross output and sales. and I will add economically true. Indeed. what was required to increase profits was an expansion of capacity through investing in more land. 204-205. slaves to acreage. slaves to output. and disposing of it speedily.. his belief in expansion reflected the general confidence felt amongst British planters at the time in the permanence of the system. 224-225). 218. 9-10). by which they could judge efficiency. Tharp’s estate agent in Cambridgeshire accurately summed up his master’s business mentality in a letter to him in 1802: I know that with your superintending eye what you project in Jamaica will be prudently. be the cost ever so great. and from whom”. especially slaves and mules.

the total number of Europeans residing on plantations in the BWI was especially small – racial characteristics constituted an important identifying feature in exercising physical control of the inventory. appraisers. Fleischman and Tyson. but. it was not that there was a lack of management information produced. The book did contain pages for the owners to enter the daily cotton-picking totals of individuals. The impression the book created was that a meticulous attention to a variety of accounting data signalled a well-run plantation. and bookkeepers would usually gather annually for the purpose of ascribing a value to the slave assets alongside the cattle and mules. managers. In a situation where there was a lack of personal familiarity with the slaves – indeed. racial characteristics would be provided for individual slaves in parentheses next to the name. relatively little attention seems to have been paid to a slave’s racial ancestry in these valuations. The usual information conveyed was whether the slave was African or Creole (native-born). The reasons for the greater attention paid to blood ancestry in the Caribbean inventories compared with the American ones are unclear. Indeed. The book was intended as a sort of Simplex guide for owners to complete. which could be summed to arrive at the output of the workforce as a whole. This type of attitude was typified by the processes whereby slaves from Africa and their descendants were valued as livestock and the conviction in the BWI in particular that racial differences were significant and should be accounted for. like in the BWI. although it should be noted that most of the surviving examples postdate the abolition of the slave trade in 1807 by 40 years. In the BWI.) and no instances in the BWI. suggesting a limitation in their usefulness as accounting controls.d. hence. or the preferences of absentee-owners for long-standing classification schemes. In the antebellum American South. the authors noticed that few if any of the Controlling labour during the transition 757 . if they existed at all. in practice these pages were often disregarded or completed with widely varying degrees of care. but that the focus was on differentiating between individuals according to race rather than increasing productivity. Mississippi State Archives. but sometimes more detailed remarks identified the African tribe of origin or. in the case of Creoles. were kept sporadically. upon examining scores of surviving Affleck books in different business archives.. However. with many copies surviving. The dehumanisation of slave workers in both the USA and the BWI was most evident in the valuation parade where some combination of overseers. by contrast. the proportion of White blood to Black (Fleischman et al. 1988. although it could be related to the larger size of the BWI plantations. nearly all the slaves were native-born. drivers.As far as the workforce went. 2004a). n. which helped reassure slave-owners that they were engaging in a perfectly rational business activity by providing them with a uniform and apparently scientific scheme of plantation accounting (Heier. Best practice in the USA was typified by Thomas Affleck’s (1851) account and record-keeping book. the listings featured a separate column for racial background. it proved a bestseller. Productivity statistics. the authors have seen only one instance where a US plantation maintained individual cotton-picking records for the entirety of the 11-week season ( James Jackson papers. the emphasis in the Affleck book was on tracking revenues with a lack of interest in cost management and worker productivity. Although a planter’s use of an Affleck book was strictly voluntary. and is therefore an important source of evidence of actual plantation practices. 2011). Occasionally. For example. for example in reclaiming runaways.

Tasking involved motivating the workers through predetermined performance standards. political power of former slave owners) and external (state of the economy. Fleischman et al. in contrast to ganging. for example. and the next section describes the steps they took to mitigate it. In summary. It follows that the seeds of the legal framework established in the BWI by the 1833 Abolition Act. In the first place. role of political authorities). Plantations were now obliged to keep detailed records of work and pay as legal evidence and officials on the ground to submit regular reports to London involving a host of statistical data to enable the BCO to monitor the progress of . 2004b). justice. Landowners and government were well aware of the danger that ex-slaves would withdraw their labour once emancipated. access plantations. Another one in 1831 regulated the slaves’ terms and conditions of work and empowered local “slave protectors” to adjudicate civil and criminal proceedings. punishments.AAAJ 24. summon witnesses. slaves were free to pursue their own activities after they had completed their quota of work. 2004. Accounting was involved in setting targets and measuring performance. which relied on close supervision and physical coercion. there were a host of variables that affected the transition process. There were innumerable blank pages and inconsistencies in terms of the quality and content of information when a plantation’s record books are compared from one period to the next. pay rates. However. and detailed accounting records and reporting requirements before they received any money. and collect evidence. emancipation in the BWI was the result of a negotiated settlement involving compensation to slave owners. and hence a means of extending their working life in a situation where replacements were unavailable. Compensating the slave owners in the BWI gave the British government a financial lever over them as they were forced to agree to the systemisation of work rules. which gave a high priority to accounting procedures. whereas in the USA it was imposed on a war-ravaged economy following the Civil War. two major points of difference stand out between the BWI and USA. The pattern of adoption was uneven. The intervention of the imperial government in plantation affairs was not new and thus may have been more tolerated.6 758 books were filled out as Affleck described in his directions. restricted the use of whippings and obliged plantation owners to keep a record of floggings administered. Foner (1983) noted that these were both internal (scarcity of land. The one exception to the non-involvement of accounting in disciplining the workforce prior to emancipation concerns the switch by some owners in the USA and BWI from ganging to tasking after the abolition of the slave trade with Africa in 1807. Tasking was regarded as less onerous on slaves than the constant physical bullying of the ganging system. Under tasking. Engineering a new society based on waged labour Clearly.. The clear impression created by these books is that quantifying labour output was not deemed worth the effort. the lack of cost controls and the lack of attention to labour productivity and non-physical means of disciplining the workforce did not bode well for the plantation owners when faced with a more competitive labour environment. however. An Order in Council in 1824. had been sown several years prior to emancipation in 1838. and tasking was more suited to cotton picking in the USA than cane-cutting in the BWI where ganging remained the norm (Tyson et al. the focus in the management accounts on gross output..

each colony was required to document its system of fines. Although.the “great experiment”[7]. The second major point of difference between the two locations is that production on plantations continued in the BWI into the twentieth century. 5. All of these accounting and accounting-related data had to be recorded in a prescribed fashion in particular journals. 65 rolls): While a major part of the Bureau’s early activities involved the supervision of abandoned and confiscated property. the Bureau managed apprenticeship disputes and complaints. In addition. including the accounting requirements. operated hospitals and refugee camps. notwithstanding that many businesses failed and were sold off. Bureau officials issued rations and clothing. (FB). Southern rural economies were largely devastated in the aftermath and the plantation system effectively collapsed. pensions. whereas in the USA the plantation economy essentially collapsed within the space of a few years. and it is significant that it is for relief activities that the FB now tends to be remembered. The Bureau also helped Black soldiers. The FB was established within the War Department by Congress in March 1865. This carefully planned and phased approach. the FB played a key role in regularising employer-employee relations.d. During and after the transition.. attendance. criteria for floggings. 2005). 2005). extra work-hour requirements. the situation in the USA following emancipation was more pressing than in the BWI because of the legacy of war. M1907. was in sharp contrast to what occurred in the USA where the Emancipation Act was followed by nearly two years of continued civil conflict. n. Major General Oliver Howard served as the FB’s Commissioner for its entire history. unlike the BCO with its permanent staff of civil servants. but was terminated in 1838 owing to their demands for greater freedom (Tyson et al. These are summarised by National Archives (1781-1951. Controlling labour during the transition 759 Much of this was relief work. this was an Army agency that was always seen as temporary. yet more ad hoc in terms of the structures established by the federal government to deal with it. There was also a political . assisted benevolent societies in the establishment of schools. .. acts of insubordination. p. as the paper will relate. 1995). However. Thus. sailors. and their heirs collect bounty claims. and supervised labor contracts.. The best efforts of the US federal government to aid the transition of former slaves from servitude to freedom were embodied in the activities of the Bureau of Refugees. and sub-scale work performance. which forced their owners to continue production of sugar on plantations (Butler. The original plan had been to establish a transitional period of “Apprenticeship” where the slaves would learn to behave like waged workers. More specifically. and back pay. 3) in its introduction to the Records of the Field Offices for the State of Mississippi (Record Group 105. and Abandoned Lands. Freedmen. not only for reporting back to the BCO but also to be available to special magistrates during their regular visits or at special hearings. This had been scheduled to last until 1840. and provided transportation to refugees and freedmen who were attempting to reunite with their family or relocate to other parts of the country. the majority of BWI estates carried multiple mortgages. notwithstanding that its life was twice extended until the final cessation of operations in June 1872. helped freedmen in legalizing marriages entered into during slavery. its concerns were wider and more immediate. its mission was to provide relief and help freedmen become self-sufficient. to adjudicate worker complaints (Tyson et al. In particular there was an absence of anything comparable to the sustained central monitoring and reporting procedures emanating from the BCO.

pp. 2005. 2005. Unlike the North where manufacturing was well developed and expanding. For the first time. 1974). The task system which relied on accounting targets was utilised in order “to increase the productivity of labour”. In the main they comprised lists of receipts and payments and inventories prior to 1833 (NLS: Crawford 23/14/4. 6. p. Higman (2005) found an improvement in the accounting arrangements on the Montpelier plantation in Jamaica. notwithstanding the increased “measuring and recording” costs involved (Higman. The importation of thousands of indentured workers beginning in the early 1840s from India (primarily) and China also helped boost a plantation system drained of its traditional labour-force[9]. 87). wages. they were obliged to meet stringent work-level standards in order to receive full compensation (Mangru. second and third gangs (NLS: Crawford 25/11/647. pp. 1977. the produce accounts and accounts current were made up to the same calendar date to facilitate ex post analysis. 8).AAAJ 24. piece by piece” (Higman. 2005. and the surviving accounts provide some evidence in that respect in the BWI. the proprietor now required more detailed projections. 246). The key point from an accounting perspective is that numbers of workers were small and labour control at the micro level depended primarily on evidencing the performance of contracts. 1977. It follows that other than in the rice plantations of the South Carolina lowlands. 257). fewer than one percent of southern farms could be considered plantations by 1867. Similarly. and the proprietor responded to the heightened uncertainties of the post slave economy with requests for more accounting data (Higman. one would have expected employers to focus more on improving efficiency in order to maintain output. pp. rent-free house or land and provisions. The section continues by examining the effects of emancipation on the management accounting systems of individual businesses before investigating accounting’s role in evidencing the performance of contracts. In the USA. It then considers the entrenched opposition of employers and ex-slaves to the normalisation of labour relations and the part played by central government in enforcing change. p. Tinker. However. For example. Thus. pulpings and millings appear which itemised the daily pickings from the field by the number of Negroes employed in the first. 235. These workers were not unlike slaves in that their mobility was restricted and they were compelled to complete indentures typically lasting three to five years. 68. 163). the plantation system was replaced by a “patchwork” of smaller sized family farms based on share-tenancy agreements (Roark. unlike the situation in the BWI where the need for employers to control concentrations of workers over dispersed locations remained. Management accounting Given the shortage of labour that developed post-emancipation. 268-271). “taking into account the relative proportions in plants and ratoons. 1986. from then on accounts of the daily pickings. there was little alternative to agricultural production. on the other hand.6 760 incentive to preserve the size of plantations because voting privileges were legislatively restricted to large landowners[8]. on . “the disappearance of the plantation system [being] virtually complete by 1870” (Ransom and Sutch. 652-655). The plantation accounts of the Earl of Balcarres likewise increased in scope and detail as Abolition approached and in the years thereafter. These contracts compensated workers in permutations of crop-shares. Although paid piece-rate wages.

For example. state of the weather. . six employees supplied coffee. abstract of expenditure and cultivation. and its cost. the second gang. . behaviour of the labourers during the month. enabling further comparison of output (NLS: Crawford 25/11/652/1). total payment 2s/6. a sheet for 22 April 1839 relating to Marshall’s Pen recorded that: . one acre of coffee was cleaned at 13s/4 per acre.which had now risen to 31 in strength. 20 employees were engaged in pruning coffee. . . But it does illustrate the owners recognising the ability of accounting information to aid management in ways not done so previously[10]. rate of wages. there were both fewer Controlling labour during the transition 761 . The daily pickings were sub-totalled weekly. an abstract of the accounts for 1840 displayed an interest in tracking costs. and the amount paid £1/6. amount paid 10s (NLS: Crawford 25/11/647).15 September. monthly wages. the largest of which now related to wages. The situation was far different in the USA because of the sudden collapse of the plantation system rather than an extended period of time to prepare for its demise. general remarks by the overseer on the cultivation of the property. The juxtaposition of total daily pickings with total number of pickers indicates concern over the productivity of the workforce. the rate of wages was 13s per acre. stock account. providing one day’s labour at 10d per day. Daily pay-sheets similarly tracked labour costs. Wages were recorded over 25 tasks again on pre-printed the forms (CRO: R55/7/127/1). . In analysing costs by category. produced 51 bushels. These were summary documents. providing one day’s labour at 1s/8. . resulting in 13s/4 being paid. Some 20 years later the Tharp accounts had evolved into a comprehensive and systematic scheme of monthly reporting on pre-printed forms containing the following headings: . . . six employees cleaned coffee. cultivation. supplies received this month. . . produce account. whose purpose was to keep track of the work undertaken. three employees were engaged “about the works”. On the 21st. two acres of coffee were pruned. . . Once plantations were subdivided in the war’s aftermath. 30 Negroes in the second gang picked 25 bushels of coffee from the field compared with 50 bushels on the 19th. Whether the increased utilisation of accounts was the reflection of a drive for efficiency or simply an attempt by plantation owners in the BWI to compensate for the heightened uncertainties in the post-emancipation environment by seeking more information is a moot point.

Both workers and employers could be taken to task by the FB for the non-performance of contracts. 762 Since prices and yields fluctuated widely. fuel. also became commonplace. that it was impossible for them to obtain any compensation for their entire year’s labor. the Assistant Commissioner for Mississippi reported that many employers reneged on these contracts: Complaints were very numerous in the latter part of last year [1866] from freed people.J. Share contracts specified work rules. What is clear from the records of the arbitration hearings however. and Freedmen’s Bureau (FB) officials were often called upon to resolve labour disputes. known as the “two-day” system.6 opportunities and fewer reasons to monitor the effort levels of freed workers. and especially during the early years of Reconstruction (1865-1867). primarily designed to protect the ex-slaves in their transition from servitude to freedom. many of whom were northern businessmen (e. both the conditions for the apprenticeship of young children to plantation owners and the negotiation and settlement of annual labour contracts with adult field hands. Richey. a third system.AAAJ 24. share-based contracts or monthly wages were common approaches used to entice the freedmen to remain on the fields until crops were harvested. On very many cases fraud was unquestionably resorted to[11]. as well as . who worked for W. representing her interest in the crop. Excuses of various kinds were advanced by some debtors with whom the freedmen worked for shares . US employers typically deferred crop shares or a portion of wages until the contracts were completed and the crops harvested. FB officials had the power to levy fines and otherwise remedy inequities. for their own use. and six acres of land. The FB was greatly involved in overseeing contractual arrangements. Evidencing the performance of labour contracts American South: After the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. . Thus. The need for accounting information to assist management was therefore less acute in the American South in the years following Abolition.35 for clothing and cash provided her. Unfortunately. In 1867. 101) claims that “the fine system generally fell into abeyance” from the late 1860s[12]. northerners treated the freedmen like factory workers and expected them to respond to traditional economic incentives. many freedmen were naive or severely disadvantaged by particular contract provisions. and the fines or physical punishments that could be imposed. Notwithstanding. One such settlement was with a freewoman. 585-586) noted that in 1866.84. the majority of freedmen in the USA entered into individual or collective annual contracts with employers.g. “carpetbaggers”) who had no experience in plantation management. there appears to be little archival evidence indicating how successful the FB was in enforcing its decisions. The greatest effort seemed to be in defining labour relations for those who chose not to accept the proffered reparations in certain districts of 40 acres and a mule[13]. effort levels. To ensure that workers honoured their contracts. For instance. Here. The records maintained by the FB cover a wide range of activities. pp. In general. Winnie. Probably accounting’s most significant contribution to the regularisation of labour relations here was the evidence that it provided relating to the performance of contracts. freedmen worked two of six days in each week for their employers and received a rent-free house. Shlomowitz (1991. . From this was deducted $11. p. is the importance of accounting numbers in supporting claims. Morgan (1982. she was entitled to a “half hand’s interest” of $52.

50 was 2 deducted on the basis of accounting evidence for 18 days of missed service at $. and rations for children too young to work were to be deducted from the freedmen’s share. 2004. medical attention. It almost goes without saying that these contractual labour relationships gave rise to frequent disputes that required FB intervention where accounts were produced in evidence. On November 30. The record told of what he was doing on these missed days. The degree to which this deduction served as a severe element of labour control is reflected by the fact that 701 missed days of service would have 2 eroded her entire $52. at Vicksburg delineated terms that were typical in the labour contracts between freedmen and planters engineered under FB auspices. Typical of this concern in the FB archive is the account of lost time for Ellick Gillespie who. was expected to work 26 days but who. roll 43). tools. according to his employer’s records. dates of these specifically chronicled.84 of half hand’s interest (Record Group 105.W. Conversely. Clothing. Other workers toiled for yearly wages in the $150-$285 range or for daily wages of $1 to $2. there were some unspecified supplemental health and retirement benefits as Eldridge allowed that there were no old. Sub-Assistant Commissioner of Tupelo to a Major identified only as A. sick. or “driven off” following the harvest. 1867.$6.J. p. or infirm freed persons suffering from want in his sub-district (Record Group 105.12. Each party to the dispute was to select a member for the arbitration board with those two in turn choosing a third panel member. and seed. In 1868 a modification took place wherein a stipulated rent or a specified amount of agricultural produce would be paid in exchange for the use of the land. Apparently.62. A letter dated August 31.75 per day. Others who worked for wages were sometimes cheated out of their due. M197. Fleischman and Tyson (2004) found in both the antebellum American South (slave labour) and on the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Hawaiian sugar plantations (indentured labour) that the concern of employers was less with the productive efficiency of individual field hands and more with their turning out for work and. Interestingly. Eldridge. $13. The Adjutant General wrote: “This is deemed necessary to afford encouragement to free Controlling labour during the transition 763 . in November 1867. roll 43). missed 12. the Assistant Adjutant General of the 4th Military District (Mississippi and Arkansas) established ground rules for arbitration hearings. he spent one of these at the FB (Record Group 105. From the remaining $35. It was hoped that this new arrangement would break the debt cycle (National Archives and Records Administration. 1867 from W. M197. leaving $21. roll 43). M197. The FB felt strongly that the claims of labourers were the most vital of matters that came before the arbitration boards. Wood in 1867 in an effort to curb the abuses of planters fleecing their former slaves. stock. When the crop share was one-third for the freedman. However. Such contractual arrangements reflected a plan conceived by Assistant Commissioner T. the labourer was to provide everything required for his/her upkeep if the share was one-half. The lost time issue and its relationship to labour and/or racial control have been significant in other studies of plantation economies. The plan was for the FB to standardise an arrangement for planters to pay freedmen one-third of the crop and to provide land. the reasons why[14]. if not present. the planter was to furnish everything but clothing and medical attention.371 for “Winnie’s part of hand hire”. 4). food. freedmen who toiled for a portion of the crop (“sharecroppers”) could often find themselves the victims of “creative” accounting practices[15].

The fact that half the penalty for non-performance of the contract went to the government underscores the substantial relief activities of the FB. Apparently. somewhat illegible in the example. and the fact shall be proved to the satisfaction of the proper officer. care too might be assumed in the enforcement process. M197. Here the typical wage for a first-class male was $10. there is no evidence seen by the authors that the FB actually enforced decisions rendered by the arbitration boards or to suggest what was done if the members hand-picked by the litigants were unable to agree on a third member for the tribunal. retained in the hands of the said [planter’s name] as aforesaid. It appears that a system which had existed ad hoc in the annual valuation of slaves before the Civil . while time lost to idleness or absence without leave was to be penalised at three times the normal rate. but in the example we have seen. roll 43). Commissioner of Freedmen shall certify that all dues to laborers are paid or satisfactorily arranged (Record Group 105. and 3rd. one-half thereof to the said [planter’s name] and the other half to the United States. The heading in the document. M197. And no shipment of crops shall be made until the . Time lost to sickness was to be deducted from the worker’s wage or share. and the party so offending may be discharged from said employment (Record Group 105. The protective arm of the FB is most evident in a series of documents that provide monthly wage rates on plantations of now free labour. roll 42). these lines were crossed out (Record Group 105. Again these exactions had to be supported by accounting data to be effective in law. the one-half of the wages due to said party so offending. roll 42). shall be forfeited. Since the government stood as beneficiary. reads: And it is furthermore agreed that any wages or share of profits due the said laborers under this agreement. A document of this genre appears as Figure 1 for Spring Farm. There was gender discrimination since first-class females typically received $8 per month. 2nd. Another printed document entitled “Agreement with Freedmen” spelled out the obligations of both parties to a labour contract and stipulated the punishments due to freedmen for malfeasance: And in case any laborer shall voluntarily absent himself from. It will also be observed that monthly wages were linked to the operative’s rating. M197. Third-class males and second and third-class females earned $4-5 a month. Another agreement stipulated labourers to be at work by sun rise (with the word “by” deleted and replaced with “before”) and to work until sun set (with “sun set” crossed out in favour of “dark”).6 764 labour” (Record Group 105. .AAAJ 24. or shall neglect or refuse to perform the labor herein contracted for. A crucial consideration was the number of hours a labourer was expected to work per day. with second-class males receiving a dollar less. However. It will be noted that the labourers are classified as 1st. roll 42). this was an issue easily finessed by planters with support from the FB. The “Agreement with Freedmen” document specified ten hours of work per day in Summer and nine hours in Winter with none on Sunday. Such agreements necessitated planters keeping records of attendance and work undertaken by their employees’ as without such evidence neglect of duties could not be demonstrated. a rating system that occasionally appeared in slave lists in the American South. shall constitute a first lien upon all crops or parts of crops produced on said plantation or tract of land by their labor. . M197. to aid in supporting the helpless.

M197. 2. Summary documents also appeared in the FB archive.Controlling labour during the transition 765 Figure 1. 1. and wages War (Fleischman and Tyson. Freedmen. an 1865 compendium contained the plantation owners and the location of their holdings along with the total of “Male Hands” rated. ratings. 2004) became formalised with emancipation. the number of “Female Hands” likewise ranked. . roll 42). with the number of boys and girls unrated (Record Group 105. For example. and 3.

However. even though the sugar fields were increasingly occupied by immigrant Indian workers rather than larger-bodied freedmen of African descent. task-rate based wages and performance expectations were included in written contracts that were employed to convert slave and indentured workers into paid labourers in the BWI sugar colonies[16]. Rental agreements provided another contractual means of eliciting labour from the population in the BWI. a low rent was charged on houses and gardens and a high one on provision grounds in order to encourage the workers to remain on the plantation. such policies had the opposite effect. Notwithstanding. . Over time. market forces led to differing pay rates among tasks that required more or less skill and effort than others. The other method of constraining the workforce was to make the provision of a house and grounds conditional upon the occupants’ continuing work on the plantation (Hall. All workers. It had been the customary practice under slavery to supply the slaves with provision grounds where they might grow their own food or sell and exchange it in local markets. SMs visited the different districts and adjudicated allegations of contract infringements on the basis of oral argument and the detailed accounts. noted that. regardless of ethnicity or physical characteristics. especially in the years immediately following Apprenticeship before the large influx of indentured workers.6 766 British West Indies: In contrast to the wide variation in contract terms observed above. Apprenticeship-era task rates of expected work effort continued to be overseen by local SMs into the 1850s and beyond. BWI contracts of employment were characteristically uniform within a particular colony and specified expected task levels of work effort as opposed to simple measurements of output. which as mentioned earlier. as Hall (1978) relates. Opposition to waged work Opposition was encountered in the USA and BWI from freed slaves and employers alike to the new world order envisaged by central government of a free workforce voluntarily cultivating the land for wages. “Many SMs prided themselves on the promotion of written contracts – dealing with share-cropping arrangements and labor tenancies as well as labor contracts strictly defined”. 1978). whilst at the same time diverting them away from cultivating their own crops (Higman. prompting some employers to pull back from these restrictive labour practices. 2005. . p. were required to complete at least one task each day and five tasks each week. [and] feared the disintegration of a social and economic system which had . the employers were obliged to keep. p. 49). In effect and in combination with vagrancy provisions. 247). After emancipation. There was variation on the theme at the Montpelier plantation in Jamaica. Planters “resented their loss of arbitrary power. Basing his conclusions on the writings of former SMs. charging rents on houses and provision grounds was seen by employers as a way of making ex-slaves dependent on wages. Craton (1994. The BCO made justice accessible to employers and employees alike through a system of Special Magistrates (SMs) that was initiated during the Apprenticeship period. When slavery ended in the BWI sugar colonies.AAAJ 24. and the feeling of resentment engendered among former slaves promoted an exodus from estates. Initially. This was a seller’s labour market. committees of elite planters broke down field work into a set of basic tasks and task rates which were vetted by the BCO prior to the release of the £20 million fund that was distributable to former slaveholders as compensation. during both the Apprenticeship and post Apprenticeship periods.

Emancipated slaves. planters conspired to prevent their workers acquiring it. or barter for the same work they had performed as slaves[17]. and for the prevention of indolence and vagrancy. p. p.g. Local assemblies were assigned the responsibility for framing rules for the classification of apprentices. punishment schemes. Collusion amongst employers to control the labour market was attempted in both the US and BWI. Antigua and Barbados). Each colony’s local legislature drafted ordinances which specified task rates. 464-5). with certain exceptions (e. Moreover. 131). Planters in the BWI however were much more successful at fixing terms and conditions mainly because it was they who dominated the local assemblies that created the uniform sets of labour regulations and contract provisions that were mandated by the BCO. and the availability. Green (1976. the slave work ethic placed a high premium on the communitarian value of labor and on the social value of leisure. Controlling labour during the transition 767 Opposition to working for former slave-masters was also a matter of principle. Tied to the natural rhythms of agriculture and reinforced by an African sense of time. 122) described the relationship of the local ordinances to the Abolition Act: Although the Act of Parliament established the basic framework for emancipation. legislation was passed in the 1850s that prohibited land acquisition by cooperatives in order to prevent former slaves from pooling their resources (Adamson. not consumed. notwithstanding that “attempts at collusion by groups of US planters to restrain wages or specify contract terms were virtually all failures” (Wright. even where land was available. for example. pp. Similarly. 1975. of sufficient open lands in both the BWI and the USA for freedmen to cultivate the crops necessary to fulfil personal and family needs allowed many to opt out and become peasant farmers. and vagrancy rules that were to apply to every plantation in a particular colony. Where open lands were not accessible. 90). 1992. for the maintenance of discipline among apprentices. The slaves spurned the idea of routinised work. In particular. for the appraisement of those who wished to purchase their freedom. freedmen in both venues had few choices other than to perform the same tasks they had done before liberation. In British Guiana. The paper has already referred to the practice in the BWI of charging rents on houses and provision grounds as a device for making workers dependent on wages.provided them the highest rank and authority” (Green. 79) discussed why freedmen in the USA resisted wage labour in the years immediately following the Civil War: Still. it reserved to the colonial legislatures the task of preparing the terms upon which the apprenticeship system would be regulated. the great obstacle in the way of making cotton plantations into “factories in the field” was the work ethic of the slaves themselves. though they were not averse to hard work. crop shares. p. The nearest parallels in the USA to the West Indian ordinances were the now infamous “Black Codes”. appeared far more interested in personal autonomy and gaining control of their time than in receiving either cash wages. 1976. they feared the disappearance of their workforce following emancipation. for their part. and sought to preserve the status quo through legislation and restrictive labour practices. Reconstruction legislation allowed former slave states to re-enter the . p. Powell (1980. the provisions of labour contracts and local sharecropping arrangements in the USA were intended to tie freedmen to plantation lands in order that relatively few would be able to become fully independent farmers. and they considered time as something that was passed.

this provision became mere lip service given the innumerable and impenetrable barriers to full and equal rights for freedmen that were embodied in the “Black Codes” established by state assemblies. p. p. Wallenstein (1987) noted that these codes and their poll-tax requirements restricted ex-slaves’ opportunities and prevented them from becoming fully free and equal citizens. For example. the codes also restored unsavoury vestiges of slavery (Wright. in part. to instil labour discipline among newly freed slaves. preventing their right to bear arms. According to Clayton (2006. the racially specific elements of the Black Codes were voided by the FB and then superseded by the Reconstruction Acts of 1867. Regrettably. However. Nevertheless. enforcing. the conflicting interests of freedmen and employers in both the BWI and USA threatened to undermine their central governments’ plan of creating a new agrarian society based on free waged labour. in large part through uniform accounting procedures and periodic accounting reports. Although there was a blatantly racist component to the codes. Vagrancy provisions in most state codes did remain in place for decades and often culminated in years of peonage or penal servitude for unemployed former slaves and Black soldiers. This was dependant on the ability of the BCO to hold the various parties to account for their actions. 94). and that endured well into the latter half of the nineteenth century.6 768 Union once they had approved the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. for example. and effecting change appears vital.AAAJ 24. the labour shortages that arose in the USA paralleled those in certain regions of the BWI. which lasted nearly four years and then became the basis of future legislation. and new poll and business taxes that together re-established a quasi-legal form of servitude. The Black Codes were designed. Their lifespan was strictly limited. there was nothing in these codes or subsequent legislation at all comparable to the BWI’s detailed accounting-related task norms and work rules that were initiated during the slave era. They included detailed vagrancy provisions. fines and punishment schemes. and restricting their ability to own or lease lands. 46). virtually an article of faith in 1865”. 1980). a provision which effectively required the vast majority of freedmen to work as land labourers rather than to become independent farmers[18]. state assemblies were not unlike their BWI counterparts in fearing that market incentives would be an ineffective means of persuading ex-slaves to work (Powell. the sustained role of the British government in regulating. Thus. Unlike BWI Apprenticeship ordinances. This fear was affirmed by the fact that the number of man-hours per capita supplied by the rural Black population fell by about a third once slavery ended (Ransom and Sutch. In Mississippi’s Code. The Black Codes delineated the activities that ex-slaves could and could not pursue and were clearly a step back for the newly freed men. In short. especially in regard to vagrancy provisions. 665) examined the evidence on the effectiveness and persistence of the codes and concluded that “both the overt and the covert arrangements made by employers probably were nothing more than fleeting experiments on a local scale”. p. but by limiting their mobility. for the White South. . formalised during the apprenticeship and indenture periods. 1977. Shlomowitz (1992. freedmen were specifically precluded from renting or leasing lands in unincorporated towns or cities. The next section discusses the role of government regulation in the development and use of accounting in both venues. In this light. 1992). “the conviction that African-Americans would not work without some form of coercion was.

V. In the US immediately following emancipation federal policies favoured the freedmen. following the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1 1863. all-encompassing and centrally coordinated effort was both undertaken and sustained in the USA to re-socialise former slaves comparable to the BWI experience. plantain. For example. Section 4 of the British Controlling labour during the transition 769 . and to occupy abandoned lands that they could rent for three years and later buy (Bentley. detailed records would be kept. created a regulatory framework that included formal record books. This does not mean that the ´ American and BWI land owners had different intentions or that the Caribbean elites were ´ more or less successful in “controlling” former slaves. cotton cultivation. The resultant committee prepared scales of task-work for cane. plantation workers were allowed to choose their employer and place of residence. 1970. and created barriers to land ownership[19]. We found nothing comparable to the interplay between local planters and local government in the USA. these policies were never effectively enforced and were quickly abandoned at the start of the Reconstruction period. Unfortunately. and education of persons of color” as well as to verify that labour contracts were appropriately fulfilled. CAP. systematic. and maintain plantation-based economies. and data would exist to enable a comparative analysis of practices and statistics among the colonies. based on what might be expected from an “effective labourer” and “average weather and soils”. For example. However. a set of work rules. As one of many examples. a late 1865 Mississippi legislative act required that freedmen must have written evidence of “a lawful home or employment” by the second Monday of January 1866[20]. employment. limit their ability to become full citizens. Orders in Council. For example. and punishment schemes had to be vetted by the BCO and legislated by the local colony assemblies before slaveholders were compensated. A committee of three officers was appointed “to regulate the enrolment. the Bureau of Refugees was a ` temporary agency and its authority and relatively liberal policies vis-a-vis freedmen were in force only until the war ended when it was replaced by the FB. In the BWI.Government regulation Landowners in both the BWI and American South looked to government for assistance in maintaining labour and racial control when slavery ended. however. forbad vagrancy. noted that the BCO-appointed governor in British Guiana authorised a committee of local planters to develop labour standards. norms. specific accounting reports. In the BWI. 23). and normal reporting intervals. Local and federal legislation in both venues mandated gainful employment. In essence. Approving these ordinances at one central location helped ensure that uniform accounting procedures would be adopted. to sign one-year contracts. and wood-cutting. in conjunction with the 1833 Abolition Act. created detailed penal sanctions and punishment schemes. p. coffee. and was facilitated to a much greater extent by the accounting provisions and regular reporting requirements and intervals that were associated with this legislation. Burn (1937. White elites in both regions sought to tie ex-slaves to plantation lands. Regulations for freed labourers were initially developed by the War Department’s Bureau of Refugees. and its initial provisions were more broadminded and far more protective to ex-slaves than those in the BWI immediately following Abolition. recruiting. the effort was more consistent and coordinated through locally enacted legislation mandated by the colonial authorities. 194). While the “Black Codes” of individual states were clearly aimed at social control. the authors have found little evidence indicating that a uniform. Clearly. p.

In the first place. war-related federal agency. They must obtain the confidence of both White and colored citizens .6 770 Guiana Ordinance required that:[. in that BCO input and oversight was intended to protect the contractual rights of ex-slaves. Although the FB was responsible for monitoring labour practices and working conditions on plantations. accounting records and procedures were much more ad hoc and far less consistent or detailed in the USA. structure. The difficulties in the way of the performance of the duties of the officers of the Bureau are much increased by the existence of certain State Statutes which affect the Freed people alone. set up an arbitration structure to resolve disputes. the FB was a military operation that functioned in a very hostile environment with relatively little direction forthcoming from Washington. FB sub-commissioners were . resident within their districts. and seemed generally supportive of the freedmen’s equality. . 1866 letter from T. Assistant Commissioner in Mississippi to General O. It distributed rations. and taskmaster” and “were the key to the proper functioning of the system”. . ´ Because elite local planters in the BWI created the new work rules. In the US. the FB was similarly responsible for safeguarding freedmen from abusive labour practices. and tradition in the USA. shall by such employer. adjudicate complaints from both planters and apprentice workers. SMs verified that plantations were keeping proper pay and work records as required by the law. either before or after slavery was abolished in the 1860s. For example. a detailed and uniform set of district records was neither maintained nor reported to a central monitoring agency comparable to the BCO. and with state and other officials. an October 11. According to Holt (1992.] every contract between the employer and the praedial apprenticed labourer . 2005). It is true that the maximum punishment for planters was a fine. but the FB was a temporary. For example. The archive is replete with evidence that documents these noteworthy efforts. the BCO appointed SMs whose charge was to visit plantations.J. Howard. they were hamstrung. . and which are unjust and oppressive[22]. saw to the education of the young. teacher. by the Black Codes. these officials combined “the roles of judge. Wood. and were themselves held accountable to the BCO through monthly reports of their activities (Tyson et al.AAAJ 24. they were able to perpetuate key remnants of slave-era polices and sustain their dominance over labour. established rules for labour contracts and apprenticeship indentures. 1835). . whereas workers could be flogged or imprisoned under the law. be reduced into writing and entered into a book to be kept for that purpose on the plantation (British Parliamentary Papers. As a result. The process was not all one way. Second. and FB officials on the ground did not have the same level of authority as BWI SMs. Thus. p. initially for slaves and later for apprentices. There was nothing comparable to this central monitoring/local enforcement apparatus. describes the unique challenges faced by Bureau officials in the field: Officers are required to use every means to make known to all in their districts the nature of their duties. Commissioner of the FB.. however. .Labour activity had to be documented.O. and a set of procedures had to be both followed and recorded when administering punishments[21]. and to this end are directed to put themselves in communication with prominent citizens of either color. 56). For instance. . and mete out punishments. in the early years. but the point is that the system was both monitored and regulated. The FB undertook many initiatives that were clearly intended to improve the lot of freedmen.

and children. Data categories included the number of freedmen in each county and whether they were registered with the Bureau or not. The archives also contain weekly reports regarding the number of sick and wounded refugees and freedmen.g. from the FB records (unlike those of the BCO) is clear evidence of follow through and sustained effort. M197. etc. women. and the number of freedmen receiving rations broken down into men. There was more attention in the labour records to differences of race than productivity. Mulatto). An immense document of some 153 pages appears in roll 65 (Record Group 105) which is a register of former slaves. and they were still required to document activities and report them regularly to the BCO. roll 42). and recognised the importance of accounting systems to gather Controlling labour during the transition 771 . the number of freedmen who had died and the number held in confinement. and residence. The amount and value of commodities provided to individual freedmen were also recorded. Labour discipline was characterised by the lash or other physical punishments. In terms of points of difference. In order to achieve this. BWI plantations in contrast continued to be monitored by BCO-appointed officials long after slavery had ended. These reports were quite detailed and formed a synthesis of most FB activities. however. Central government in both venues committed itself to the task of creating a new agrarian society based on free waged labour once the prospect of emancipation could no longer be avoided. the number gainfully employed. Black. Conclusion The paper has discussed the impact of accounting and other quantitative techniques on labour control practices during the transition from slavery to waged labour in the USA and BWI at the macro and micro levels. suggesting that little was done by the FB during its seven years of operation that had lasting impact on Reconstruction. Did the FB take action against planters who violated the terms of contracts? Was the education provided to Black children really equal to that of White? Were actions taken to forestall planters from cheating their labourers after the harvest? Were White apprentices worked as hard as Black? The extant record is mute on these pivotal questions. the number of apprenticeship indentures since the last report and the overall total of apprentices. the authorities in London and Washington accepted that the behaviour of workers and employers would need to change radically. the fact that most plantation owners in the BWI were absentees meant that there was more of a tradition of reporting events to the principal than in the USA where “management by walking about” remained feasible. What is missing. including demands for information. the number of contracts approved since the last report and the total number of contracts in force. an identifying trait that should no longer have been germane was colour (e. The entry for each freedman covers two pages of information.. There was a lack of attention to labour productivity and little in the way of cost controls. Prior to emancipation. In addition to the data that would be expected.required to submit quarterly reports on the freedmen living in their districts. These statistics are wide-ranging and not dissimilar to information demanded by the BCO (Tyson et al. sex. such as name. plantation accounts in both the USA and BWI focused heavily on gross output rather than return on investment. age. Brown. the number of marriages registered since the last report and total number registered. Yellow. (Record Group 105. 2005). There was also a longer history of government intervention in plantation affairs in the BWI.

This was an entirely different scenario from the BCO with its well-established network of agents. We acknowledge that the Black Codes in nearly every southern state contained innumerable provisions which impacted the freedmen’s daily life. but these codes were fleeting and did not include anything comparable to the micro-level measurement.AAAJ 24. whereas in the BWI it was much more organised. The military was given this responsibility by default. 274-8). there was no permanent agency of government to deal with conquered domestic territory. The USA still needed several generations to mitigate the effects of states’ rights irrespective of the decision of the Civil War. especially planters’ responses to free labour. and with a clearer connection between the accounting information created and the outcomes that resulted. formalised and detailed.6 772 information about their activities in order to both establish accountability and evaluate performance against work norms. and displayed greater uniformity both within and across colonies. issued Orders in Council and mandated local ordinances. the basic political structure goes a long way towards explaining why the British government appeared strong and the USA weak. The first is the call for individual states’ rights and local authority. the BCO was charged with maintaining the national interest in the colonies and it did so bureaucratically through systematic and comparative analysis of documented reports that were locally inspected and regularly transmitted to London. permanent staff and indefinite life expectancy. 1979. the existence of a strong central agency that accumulated reports. that help explain the difference in attitudes. the other economic. Even Lincoln was cool about the topic until he decided on emancipation to advance the war effort (Fleischman. 1961. and employed and trained local adjudicators best explains the greater uniformity and systematic use of accounting to sustain plantation systems in the BWI. but two groups of factors stand out. Hence. . In fact. Litwack. In both the BWI and the American South extensive data were compiled. pp. and the FB. and staunch resistance to a central control that has always been a part of the American consciousness. which administered the process. In the US case. In the USA. In the BWI the process was more enduring. more systematic. but at the same time relatively few congressmen were rabid on the issue except to advance their political ambitions. Although there were many similarities between the USA and BWI post-slavery transitional periods. was always temporary in design. The explanation for the relative lack of government imposed control procedures in the American South is a matter of debate. the depth and breadth of accounting differed significantly in these two venues. However. the USA was much more decentralised governmentally than Britain. British colonies were governed internally rather than by the imperial centre as far as day-to-day matters were concerned (Banton. the military drew the short straw to enforce policies laid down by a deeply divided Congress and an ineffective chief executive. nor a tradition of monitoring from afar. Before the war. and reporting requirements for work rules. task rates. accounting for labour was typically ad hoc and inconsistent. and punishments that occur in the BWI. 2008). There was comparatively little slavery to be sure in the North because it was not feasible economically. American weakness was linked to states’ rights and the reality that slavery continued to exist in the North except where it was specifically prohibited. and its absence in the USA. Although British colonies were widely dispersed geographically. one political. In the authors’ view. monitoring.

The second point is that plantation owners in the BWI were dependent on the largess of the British government to maintain the viability of plantations following Abolition and therefore had a powerful incentive to comply. It is probably true that the level of central government interference by the BCO in the West Indies would have been anathema in Britain. but the colonies. Neither regulation nor incentives were enough to persuade sufficient numbers of the former slave population to continue doing the same work as before. p. but the payment of compensation was contingent on colonial assemblies detailing accounting and work rules designed to regulate workers’ expected output and remuneration. p. Paton. 461-64. the authorities in the USA had plenty of time to observe and learn from the British experience. where the paper has argued that labour control was more effective and largely based on accounting and other quantitative data. Hoskin and Macve. Most British plantation owners were absentees and might have fought harder to protect their independence from government had they resided on their plantations. as well as to mitigate remnants of harsh slave-era punishments that would surely have been sustained after slavery ended. 2004. this was not the mother country. compensation may well be the main explanation for the government’s ability to demand and implement more documented and detailed accounting and control procedures in the BWI than in the USA. These procedures – which were binding on both workers and employers – helped insulate the latter from market pressures to a degree. Armstrong (1994. even in the BWI.Indeed. 41) Controlling labour during the transition 773 . 1988. many plantations were sold off. emancipation being a consequence of the Civil War.g. However. the absence of comparable procedures leads us to question the perceived usefulness of managerial accounting systems as decision-influencing information at this particular time and setting. Profits declined. Indeed. Furthermore. the situation provides an interesting corollary to previous work on managerial control systems in the nineteenth century. neither method was likely to succeed. It was after all a “great national experiment” with a perceived high risk of failure. from an economic perspective. The relative deficiency of government sponsored control procedures in the USA is interesting considering that emancipation there occurred some 30 years later than in BWI. and it was not until the 20th century that the Caribbean sugar trade recovered (Adamson. Hall. which has debated the relative effectiveness of surveillance versus economic incentives as means of improving productivity (e. in that such systems were intentionally absent in the US case despite the BCO model that was already in place for all to observe and replicate. Therefore. many of whom were saddled with debt. where there was no similar quid pro quo. Not only did the £20 million compensation fund help keep owners afloat. As far as the newly freed slaves were concerned. However. 1990). Thus. none of the measures taken were sufficient to stem the labour shortages that developed following emancipation. the long experience of the British Colonial authorities in tackling a range of issues and colonies would have made the BCO a difficult organisation for the West Indian planters to challenge. Tyson. 1978. 1975. government papers indicate that emancipation was regarded as presenting exceptional circumstances. notwithstanding that the absence of a written constitution in the UK allowed the British government to legislate more extensively than would have been possible under US law. pp. Therefore. 9).

In terms of future research. militated against economic incentives being effective. the paper highlights the limitations of accounting controls and economic incentives in disciplining labour without the presence of physical coercion in circumstances where there is a refusal on the part of the workers to cooperate. the effort that both the FB and BCO put into establishing schools and monitoring attendance for workers’ children shows that these agencies were aware that a lot more would be needed to change underlying attitudes. Fleischman and Macve. However. Did these incentives produce significant behavioural change? . It would be worthwhile to test this out in relation to the emancipation of slaves by other governments in the nineteenth century. Although historians have found control over labour to have been informal in the British industrial revolution compared to what Hoskin and Macve (1988) identified in the USA in the mid-nineteenth century. physical as well as psychological. let alone make them more efficient through monitoring them. it is worth noting that school attendance was another area where government statistics were compiled[23]. There is also the question of the lack of attention to productivity and cost control under slavery. The psychological barrier of succumbing to any perceived form of continued slavery. One means of extending this research and taking the debate forward concerning the efficiency of the plantation system. Monitoring coupled to accountability were the governmental tools used to effect change. future study might also explore whether the American “carpetbaggers” referred to earlier in the paper employed task-rate accounting incentives in their northern factories. Government can play a part in mitigating such situations. it was precisely the lack of enclosure. which seems remarkable when one considers that it was not uncommon for Caribbean plantations to be owned by British industrialists as part of their investment portfolios. the conversion of large slave populations into waged workers deserves further study. 2002). It would also be interesting to compare the workplace discipline of ex-slaves forced through economic necessity to continue working on plantations with that of “free” agricultural workers similarly compelled to work in factories as this would shed further light on the authors’ view that emancipation posed a unique problem in labour control. it seems equally true that British industrialists compensated by tightly controlling other inputs (Fleischman et al. The paper has argued that the decision-influencing aspect of management accounting systems was limited in the transition period in both the USA and BWI and suggests that such a state of affairs was inevitable given the opposition of the freed slaves to continuing to work for their former masters. therefore.6 774 stresses the importance of closing off the workplace to “countervailing influences” for psychological control through surveillance to be feasible. Were the incentives maintained once the workforce became permanent? . Although education is beyond the scope of this paper. The higher impact of accounting experienced in the more regulated environment of the BWI during the transition period compared with the USA suggests a key role for government in situations where significant institutional changes are taking place. would be to compare the accounting arrangements in plantations and industry where there was common ownership. Thus. Hoskin and Macve. 2000. 1995. even in the “modern” form of waged labour.AAAJ 24.. In the case of the plantations. then two follow-up questions arise: . Aside from the British situation. following the end of slavery which made it difficult to find workers in the first place. If they actually did so.

molasses. 2009). p. foreign workers never became a workforce of major significance. Annual Reports of the Assistant Commissioners . 2001. Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. Prior to that it was part of the War and Colonial Department (Banton. and reports listing the numbers of men and women emigrating to the colony by place of origin (NA: British Guiana Original Correspondence CO 111/182). which Afro-Creole Jamaicans believed had the power to trap the spirit (Paton. 133. 9. the ownership of twenty-five or more slaves. Playing on the superstitions of the slaves was also used to control the workforce. . See Blackmon (2008) and Daniel (1972) for details. When slavery was abolished this was changed to the possession of eighty acres of land. etc. The BCO existed as a separate entity from 1854.Last. Records of the Bureau of Refugees. . Record Group 105. 2. 5. the finding that management accounting systems were clearly limited in providing decision-influencing information. the number of marriages. 2008). The attorney was the agent holding overall responsibility for the management of the plantations in the owner’s absence. Hoskin and Macve. 6. 3. 12. Although there were similar labour shortages in the USA. 2005). for example. In 1850. To take British Guiana as an example. For example. afternoon. 1998. Document entitled “Report by Assistant Commissioner Alvan C. Adamson (1972. Gillen. therefore. In the case of the American South the authority was the US Army. See Foner (1988. Washington Headquarters: Records of the Commissioner. 941). data included returns of transfers of land to former slaves.g. 11.695”. p. & Bvt.. accounting in the BWI was designed to play an important role in monitoring the efforts of indentured labourers that later came to dominate the workforce of certain of the plantation economies in place of the slaves. entity size. if only by their absence in the USA after emancipation. Box 3. 7. product diversity. All of the practices considered in the paper relate to the measurement and control of economic resources. coffee and cotton exported from the colony with prior period comparatives. there were 916 qualified voters in a total population of 127. pp. Tyson and Davie. as was the case in Jamaica where hangings and mutilations were commonly carried out beneath the cotton tree. or Sunday schools (Tyson et al. Notes 1. rum. 1867”. . p. of which forty had to be in cultivation . notwithstanding that it never achieved its anticipated benefits in incentivising workers to become more productive (Laurence. Distinguishing accounting from other quantitative techniques is problematical given its lack of independent existence in nature (Miller and Napier. 8. It should be noted that freedmen were subject to fines and debt imprisonment (peonage) and forced to labour as convicts well into the twentieth century in many locales in the South. 2000). Col. The decision-usefulness of the accounting has been hotly debated (Tyson. . 10. 1994. quarterly and annual returns of the quantities of sugar. Controlling labour during the transition 775 .) necessary for such systems to be implemented voluntarily and thus be perceived as exceeding cost/benefit thresholds. Other statistics were produced on the number of communicants receiving the Holy Sacrament in church. 213-214) for a discussion of the reasons. . 1993). Major General for year ending October 14. 4. Unsurprisingly. 23) noted that: “During the period of slavery the qualification for elective office [was] . 1866-68. suggests that further research is needed to identify the conditions (e. . and the numbers attending daily.

Box 3. Records of the Bureau of Refugees. Foner (1988. The bequest was later rescinded and became a symbol for the federal government’s forcing of freedmen into tenancy and sharecropping. 104) provided several reasons for the unwillingness of freedmen in the USA to work for wages: “The desire to escape from White supervision and establish a modicum of economic independence profoundly shaped Blacks’ economic choices during Reconstruction. Affleck. See Tyson et al. p. Laurence (1994. E. (2005) for more details about social and educational control measurements that were imposed during Apprenticeship. File named “Mississippi 1866-68”. “It seems however. New Orleans. Record Group 105. and Genovese. New Haven. p. 110) noted that “in both the British West Indies and the American South similar loose definitions of vagrancy were applied to freed people”. CT. Annual Reports of the Assistant Commissioners . This pattern of focusing on labour turnout rather than efficiency in situations where the labour supply was constrained was also evident in the Nova Scotia coal mines in the 19th century (Fleischman and Oldroyd. A.M. Sugar without Slaves: The Political Economy of British Guiana. P1-174. 559) concluded from his review of monthly FB sub-commissioner reports that. (1972). 1866-68. “The reconstruction of plantation labor after emancipation: the case of British Guiana”. Miscellaneous Records. (Eds). 1865-71. Miscellaneous Records. Adamson. 1838-1904. and leasing land for a fixed rent to sharecropping”. 457-73. P1-174.L. The Cotton Plantation Record and Account Book. (1975). Turley (1993. 19. 1865-71. Box 21. in Engerman. and Florida under the command of General William Sherman. 168) noted that while British Guiana’s regulations required six days’ of work per week.H. 23.AAAJ 24. Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. Princeton University Press. T. Georgia. Princeton. “The most frequent complaints related to inaccurate planter accounts. Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. p. 17. 21. 2005) and Tyson and Davie (2009) for more details and many examples of the specific accounting data used by Special Magistrates in their adjudications. 776 References Adamson. 22. p. 18. 15. See Tyson et al. that in practice no one who had done five days’ work in a week was ever prosecuted for being absent on the sixth”. One must be careful not to assume that every legislative requirement translated fully into practice. . B. . Yale University Press. Washington Headquarters: Records of the Commissioner. Records of the Bureau of Refugees. Race and Slavery in the Western Hemisphere: Quantitative Studies. Washington Headquarters: Records of the Commissioner. 14. For example. (1851). Washington Headquarters: Records of the Commissioner. Schlomowitz (1979. 16. Records of the Bureau of Refugees. NJ. Record Group 105. leading them to prefer share tenancy to wage labor. (2004.6 13. They [freedmen] alleged being charged for goods which they had not bought from the planter and having had deducted from earnings forfeitures for lost time during the year which they had not incurred”.D. pp. Record Group 105. 20. 2001). Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. A. LA. S. . Norman.H. This 1865 reparation applied only to coastal areas of South Carolina. Box 21.

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Accounting Historians Journal. Tharp Family. Vol. in McGlynn. T.6 780 Tyson. Accounting Historians Journal. 14 Nos 1/2.emeraldinsight. Tyson. and Drescher.N. Pittsburgh. and Oldroyd. Chapel Hill. P. Corresponding author Thomas N. Irish University Press. National Library of Scotland (n.). Cambridgeshire Record Office. Tyson. G. Accounting. Edinburgh. 98-121.K. 82 No. 47-59.. (1983). British Parliamentary Papers (1969).d. Further reading British Library (n.N. 1. 758-78. Accounting History. management accounting or managerialism? Cost accounting and in early 19th Century US textile mills”. 5.. From Slave South to New South: Public Policy in Nineteenth-Century Georgia. British Library. Vol. National Library of Scotland. 2.N. D. Slave Trade. 221-9. Politics.A. (1998).). Vol. (1992). Auditing & Accountability Journal. R55.edu To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight. 22 No. (2004). C. pp. Edinburgh. and Davie.d. Fleischman. 17 No. T. R. “Papers relating to the Abolition of Slavery and other papers relating to the Slave Trade”. pp. F. 8 No. University of Pittsburgh Press. 2. coercion and social control during apprenticeship: converting slave workers to wage workers in the British West Indies”. “The Livret system: the interface of accounting and indentured labor in British Guiana”. Vol. “Accounting for labor in the early nineteenth century: the US arms-making experience”. pp. “Substituting law for the lash: emancipation and legal formalism in a Mississippi county court”. National Archives of Scotland. (2009). 201-31. S. The Meaning of Freedom: Economics. Vol. Waldrep. “Emancipation to indenture: a question of imperial morality”. R. Vol. pp. 145-65. “Theoretical perspectives on accounting for labor on slave plantations of the US and British West Indies”. W. NC. Irish University Press Series of British Parliamentary Papers (1969).K. National Archives of Scotland (n. pp. (Eds). Vol. Accounting. Stothert of Cargen. (2005). and Culture after Slavery. T. Wallenstein. 17 No.). Chippenham. 425-51. Oldroyd. 4. pp. (1987).K. Shannon. “The economics and politics of slavery and freedom in the US South”.). “Accounting. and Fleischman. Green. 86-111. 2. 81. Vol. (1990). Business & Financial History. 43507.AAAJ 24. Journal of American History. 1835. T. Cambridgeshire Record Office (n.com/reprints . (1996). PA. GD 241.N. Tyson can be contacted at: ttyson@sjfc.d. pp. T. pp. Lowther papers. Crawford Papers. S. Tyson.com Or visit our web site for further details: www. D.d. University of North Carolina Press. Tyson. “Mercantilism. Journal of British Studies. Wright. 17 No.

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