James Bethune convinces Blind Tom Wiggins' parents to sign an indenture agreement for his services
James Bethune protected himself against the possiblity of a Union victory in the Civil War by convincing Mingo and Charity Wiggins to sign an indenture agreement for Tom's services, on May 30, 1864, for a period of five years.
Bethune promised to provide Tom's parents with "a good home and subsistence and $500 a year". The 16-year-old performer himself was assured "$20 per month and two percent of the net proceeds of his services".
Foreseeing that the South would soon fall to Union domination, General Bethune arranged for Domingo and Charity to sign a contract giving him management of Tom until he reached the age of twenty-one. Tom would receive food, shelter, musical instruction and an allowance of $20 a month. The surviving parents were to receive $500 a year plus food and shelter. Bethune would retain over ninety percent of the remaining profits from Tom's performances-- conservative estimates place that amount at $18,000 a year.