Maybe you missed this part of my post:
From a piece by Dr. Maurice Melton:
For a slave, Moses Dallas had it made. He was a coastal pilot, guiding passenger and cargo steamers through the shoals and over the bars in the waterways from Savannah south through the sounds, down the coast to Jacksonville, Fla. and up the St. Johns River all the way to Palatka. By 1860, he was in late middle age and at the top of his profession. The steamboat companies knew his reputation, and paid good money for his expertise.
Dallas was owned by a widow named Harriet Ann Elbert, of St. Marys, Ga. on the Florida-Georgia line. Her sister, the widow of a St. Mary’s doctor named Bacon, owned Dallas’ wife (also named Harriet) and their six children. 1 In 1860, the sisters agreed to let Dallas and his family move to Savannah, the center of the area’s shipping business. There, Moses and Harriet Dallas rented five acres and a house out Bryan Street east of town, across the bayou in the rice fields and woods behind Fort Jackson. Moses and Harriet Dallas lived there on their own, like a free family.
Whenever Dallas took a job with a new shipping line, Mrs. Elbert’s agent, G.W. Conn, negotiated the initial contract. But it stipulated that henceforth, Moses Dallas would act as his own negotiator on any contractual changes, including pay. And his salary would be paid directly to him. 2 It was normal for a hired-out slave’s wages to be paid to the owner (who often allowed the slave a small allotment for living expenses). But Dallas kept all his wages. 3 His hiring out earned Mrs. Elbert nothing. Dallas was good with money: His reputation for frugality matched his reputation as a pilot. 4 He knew the value of a dollar, and trusted himself to get the best value for his services......
Dr. Maurice Melton is a history professor at Columbus State University and the author of several books and articles about the Civil War navies.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the differences between the free labor system and the slave labor system: Money over Mastery, Family over Freedom: Slavery in the American Upper South, by Clavin Schermerhorn.
This is from a description of the book:
Once a sleepy plantation society, the region from the Chesapeake Bay to coastal North Carolina modernized and diversified its economy in the years before the Civil War. Central to this industrializing process was slave labor. Money over Mastery, Family over Freedom tells the story of how slaves seized opportunities in these conditions to protect their family members from the auction block.
Calvin Schermerhorn argues that the African American family provided the key to economic growth in the antebellum Chesapeake. To maximize profits in the burgeoning regional industries, slaveholders needed to employ or hire out a healthy supply of strong slaves, which tended to scatter family members. From each generation, they also selected the young, fit, and fertile for sale or removal to the cotton South. Conscious of this pattern, the enslaved were sometimes able to negotiate mutually beneficial labor terms―to save their families despite that new economy.
One useful aspect of the book is that, among other things, it looks at how slaves navigated the slave rental economy. It poignantly shows that the ability to negotiate rental terms, which again, was not uncommon in the urban South and the Upper South, did not make slaves "free" by any stretch of the imagination. However, enslaved people in the urban rental economy could make lives for themselves that was superior to that of farm hands.
The book makes heavy use of personal stories and anecdotes that bring this history to life, at least, it did for me.