According to modern accounts, some slaveholders after the Emancipation Proclamation or after the Civil War refused to give up their slaves, stating “good help is hard to find.” This story has appeared since at least 2004, with the slaveholder being Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885). There is no documentary evidence that this is true. “Good help is hard to find” has not been found cited in the 19th century. “He says his corn needs plowing and that kind of good man is hard to find at this time” was cited in print in 1919.
The saying ‘hard to find” has been popularized since the 1920s. The song “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” was written by Eddie Green and popularized by the singer Bessie Smith in 1927; the book A Good Man Is Hard to Find (1955) by Flannery O’Connor borrowed the song’s title. “Good help is hard to find” began appearing with frequency in print starting in the 1950s.
7 June 1919, Tipton (IN) Daily Tribune, pg. 1, col. 5:
John A. Hoyer of near Sharpsville was here today looking for a man to work on his farm. He says his corn needs plowing and that kind of good man is hard to find at this time.
14 June 1943, Abilene (TX) Reporter-News, pg. 8, col. 7 ad:
Good help is hard to find and we think we have the best and most dependable help in Abilene.
(Grace Coffee Shop—ed.)
28 June 1952, The Billboard, pg. 93, col. 2 ad:
Good help is hard to find.
(W. R. Green’s Mighty Hoosier State Shows—ed.)
28 April 1958, Greensboro (NC) Record, pg. B9, col. 8 ad:
Good “help” is hard to find...but here’s a way to keep your MAID Happy!
(An advertisement for the film Houseboat, with Carey Grant and Sophia Loren—ed.)
OCLC WorldCat record
Good help is hard to find : a play in one act
Author: Arthur L Kopit
Publisher: New York : S. French, ©1982.
Edition/Format: Book : English
..Now, Grant’s “good help is hard to find” - now that sounds like what I have read about attitudes back then....
38 posted on 1/8/2004 9:35:46 AM by gobucks
This photo was taken on August 6, 2006 in Galena, Illinois, US, using a Kodak DX6490 Zoom.
Ulysses S. Grant Statue
“Good help is hard to find.”
— Ulysses S. Grant - when asked why he did not release his slaves after the Emancipation Proclamation.
One Foggy Morning in Barbourville, Kentucky
By Ray Adkins
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
General Ulysses S. Grant, who was the main General of the North and afterwards became President, even after the war was over, kept his slaves. And he did so with this excuse: good help is hard to find.
OCLC WorldCat record
Good Help Is Hard to Find: A Study in Retention and Motivation
Author: S W Norman
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership, v13 n3 (20101007): 7-12
Other Databases: ERIC; ECO