A plantation’s overseers were often given production incentives that resulted in an emphasis on short –term profits. Overseers were offered pay inducements of one to five dollars for each bale of cotton over an established benchmark. Not surprisingly, slaves were worked harder.
Slaves received set rations, were allotted specific acreage assignments for their own cultivation of corn and grains, and were expected to pick a certain amount of cotton. They were whipped regularly for “minor transgressions”; they frequently ran away and were punished when caught. Most fugitives returned “voluntarily” or were hunted by the dogs of professional slave catchers.