The following contracts for Promyshlenniki, Creoles, and Aleuts, provide a very clear picture of the advantages and disadvantages of working for the Russian-American Company. Currencies have been converted from rubles and piasters to circa 1820 United States dollars and cents. Have the students compare this to their own contract!
Promyshlennik (Fur Trapper And Trader) Contract –
Russian-American Company, 1820
The Company Will Provide –
- A seven year passport allowing you to reside in the American Settlements.
- Legal payment of your taxes to your home province.
- Transportation to your assigned post and return to point of departure.
- You will be paid .50¢ per day for food and must perform shipboard duties during your passage.
- Free medical care. The sick in the infirmary will receive fresh food, tea and sugar and medication without cost.
- Housing is provided to bachelors at company expense.
Your Responsibility to the Company –
- The term of this contract is seven years.
- You pledge to obey the colonial administration and your superiors at all times.
- You promise not to trade for your own gain with foreigners or American natives during the terms of this contract.
- You must not use furs that are valuable to the company as articles of personal clothing.
- You pledge to avoid the following vices: drunkenness, extravagance, quarreling and accumulation of large debt.
- As agreed between the Promyshlenniki and the company, each hunter will receive $175.00 per year to be paid monthly in Russian-American Company scrip.
- At the beginning of each year, you will be paid $25.00 for necessary tools and equipment for your trade and $10.00 per month to keep your gear in good condition.
- Each Promyshlennik will receive thirty-six pounds of flour per month at company expense.
- Taxes to your home district will be automatically deducted from your salary up to $25.00 per year.
- Up to one-third of your salary may be deducted each month to pay debts owed to the company.
- Employees are required to pay for their own clothing and footwear.
Goods Available at the Company Store –
- Each month you are allowed to buy one pound of tea, three pounds of granulated sugar, one bottle of molasses, one pound of tobacco.
- Unmarried men are allowed to buy fifteen pounds of flour, six pounds of groats, six pounds of peas each month.
- Married men without children are allowed to buy thirty pounds of flour, eight pounds of groats, and ten pounds of peas each month.
- Married men with children are allowed to buy the same quantities as above with an additional four pounds of groats and six pounds of peas per child.
- Flour, groats and peas will be sold to Promyshlenniki at the usual 10-15% mark up form company cost.
- Tea, sugar, molasses and tobacco will be sold at the usual 40-45% mark up form company cost.
- Married men with families may purchase bread according to the size of their families. Bread is priced at company cost with no markup.
- Promyshlenniki are allowed to buy all other goods in the company store at the prevailing mark up, except those items that are reserved for superior classes.
- One cup of rum and 1/2 pound of meat will be given to each man on the following holidays:
- Archangel Michael’s Day
- The Czar’s birthday
- The Czar’s Saint’s day
- The anniversary of the Czar’s ascension to the throne
- The anniversary of the czar’s coronation
- On the above holidays each man is allowed to buy one bottle of rum at the usual mark up
- On each man’s own birthday, he is allowed to buy one bottle of rum at the usual mark up
- The chief Manager has the right to give bonuses, beginning at $2.50 per man. Bonuses will be paid at the end of the year and can reach as high as $50.00.
- Those who accrue debts to the company must pay them through service, and must neither ask nor petition to be released from this portion of the contract.
Creole (Mixed Russian and Native Blood) Contract –
Russian-American Company February 28, 1822
- Creoles will be encouraged not to follow savage ways.
- Creoles who are not legitimized are citizens of the colonies and are therefore Russian subjects. They have all the rights of laws and must obey them.
- Creoles must apply, in writing, to the Company Office in order to change residence. Transferring residences without permission will lead to a charge of vagrancy.
- Creoles are obliged to the company for their education and must serve the company for twenty-nine years.
- Creoles educated to a craft at Company expense will fit into the following categories:
- From birth to age 16 they will be treated as apprentices
- From ages 16 to 20 they will be assigned to occupations and will be provided with the necessities appropriate to the positions they occupy
- From ages 20 to 29 they are to receive salaries from $50.00 to $175.00 per year including clothing and food. Each Creole will receive 1/2 to 1 pound flour per month free.
- Creoles educated to an art or science will be treated as students:
- Each pupil will receive: one set warm gray woolen clothing lined with crash, one set summer clothing made of ticking, 3 fur hats, 3 lined shirts, one cap, one set leggings.
- Each student will receive 10 pounds flour per month, five pounds of groats per month, and five pounds peas per month.
- Each student will receive necessary ink, pencils, etc.
- Creoles in the Company Service can become clerks or office managers.
- Creoles in the Company Service can, in special cases, be given privileges and titles.
Those Creoles Who Do Not Enter Company Service –
- Those Creoles not in Company Service may go in hunting expeditions with their relatives, but they must participate according to the rules.
- Those Creoles not in Company Service must not ask the company for assistance in food, clothing or other privileges.
- A charge of laziness or vagrancy on the part of Creoles not in the Company Service will result in one year’s service.
- Those Creoles not in Company Service will be granted free medical care in an emergency.
Aleut Contract –
- The Company will maintain the inhabitant of the Aleutian Islands in their present way of life.
- The inhabitants will be governed by their own native leaders and elders–supervised by Russian personnel appointed by the Company. Ultimate authority rests with the head administrative office.
- The Company will record all births, deaths, and baptisms.
- The Company will provide the inhabitants with agricultural tools and advice on agricultural matters.
- All male inhabitants of the Aleutian Islands from the ages of 18 to 50 are obligated to hunt sea animals for the Company.
- When hunting on their own (not with a company organized expedition) and using their own equipment and resources, all hunters must have permission of the authorities and may only sell their catch to the Company.
- All inhabitants of the Aleutian Islands are subject to Russian Law and will be punished for violations.
- All hunters participating in a company sponsored expedition do not own the pelts of their catch, but instead receive a salary.
- The Company will provide: one baidarka, three lantaks, one what gut kamlei, three and one half pounds of whale whiskers for tying, whale oil, firearms and ammunition to kill seals for food, fish hooks and lines, two pounds tobacco, three cups rum, some bread and some flour for each expedition.
- When hunting on their own, all hunters will receive the following price for sea otter hides: Large hide: $5.00 Medium Hide: $2.00 Small Hide: $.50
- For work in the harbor or in the forest, Aleuts will receive .50¢ per day.
- Aleuts are permitted to buy any commodities available in the Company Store.
- Aleuts are permitted the usual holiday rum ration.