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Consolidated report of sick and wounded freedmen treated, and died in hospitals,
since the organization of the bureau in this State, October 1, 1865, to October 31, 1866. (No refugees treated.)
In conclusion, I will beg leave to make a few remarks of a general character. Good feeling toward the freedmen is on the increase in this State, most decidedly, and outrages are largely on the decrease. Since my report of the Sth of August, which was at the time substantially correct, I consider it just to the better people of Texas to state that the outrages spoken of therein are usually committed by a class of individuals who never were slave owners, but were the negroe's competitor in labor, and hence his enemy, and now particularly so, since the. negro is free and approximates towards equality with them. It is the lower class of people that have the most bitter and vulgar hatred of the negro. The more intelligent and liberal people consider the negro set free by the arbitrament of arms, and hence have no personal animosity towards him; while the other class hold him personally responsible, and treat him accordingly. I have also to report, in this connection, that there is a manifest disposition on the part of the freedmen to protect themselves, either by personal combat or immediate resort to an agent of the bureau.
Those planters who feel kindly towards the negro, and accept his freedom as one of the results of the war, over which he had no immediate control, report to me that they work as well, and better than could have been expected; that they work cheerfully; that they observe the new and anomalous relation under which they have been placed towards their former masters with a commendable propriety; that their good behavior is beyond all expectations; that they have not been carried away by exaggerated and impracticable ideas of their freedom, and that they would not re-enslave them if it were in their power. This latter I believe to be the unanimous sentiment of the State. No one wishes the negro re-enslaved, and all rejoice at his freedom, but take some exceptions at the manner in which it was brought about.
There is a sublime moral connected with this acknowledgment, and an argument so patent as to forever seal the justice of that series of providential events that brought about his freedom.
There is another class who appear to have become dyspeptic over the loss of
slaves, and insist that they do not work; that they are indolent and insolent; that they are “constitutional thieves and liars ;" that such propensities can be restrained in a state of slavery, but not in freedom; and that the whole race will become extinct in a state of freedom, and their blood will be on the hands of their liberators. It is my firm belief that free labor, among the former slaves of the southern States, will eventually be a success.
It cannot be otherwise, else the wheels of civilization have been reversed. One or two years are by no means a proper test. Although much has been accomplished this year in this State, yet it has taken much extra exertion on the part of the planters and bureau to induce the freedmen to work. They are, as a class, perfect children, intellectually. They have hitherto had an owner and overseer to do their thinking for them, and now, when allowed to think and act for themselves, are ill fit to exercise the distinguished prerogative. In their abject ignorance, they have been led to believe that their freedom means unrestraint-license to work as they please and do as they please, regardless of contracts or other legal obligations. In order that free labor may prove a success, the freedmen need to be taught the simplest lessons of practical life. They should be taught to depend upon their own personal exertions, and that the highest enjoyment of their freedom is through the means of labor, industry, diligence, frugality, and virtue. One of the greatest difficulties I have to contend with in the experiment of free labor is the want of patience on the part of the southern people. They are too ready, and almost eager, to pronounce it a failure. In their sudden liberation from slavery, the freed people are, I will admit, too often restless, shiftless, and suspicious of all restaint, but these characteristics (which I am making every endeavor to restrain) are the result of their former, rather than their present, relation, and only need kindness, patience, education, and good faith to overcome.
Free labor will succeed, and will be the social, financial, and political redemption of the south. The free negro, unlike the North American Indian, is agricultural in his propensities. He is a tiller of the soil, and hence cannot become extinct. His status as an industrial being is a decree of God, and hence irrevocable. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. B. KIDDOO, Brevet Major General and Assistant Commissioner. Major General 0. O. HOWARD,
Commissioner, Washington, D. C.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE POTOMAC,
Richmond, Va., October 27, 1866. GENERAL: In compliance with your instructions of October 2, 1866, I have the honor to submit, in the absence of the assistant commissioner, the following report for the portion of the year since November 30, 65, the date of the last annual report from the State of Virginia.
During this time i hree officers have successively acted as assistant commissioner, viz : Brevet Brigadier General 0. Brown, United States volunteers, until May 22, 1866 ; Major General A. H. Terry, United States volunteers, from that time until August 15, 1866; and Brevet Major General J. M. Schofield, United States army, from that date until the present.
By the order relieving Brevet Brigadier General 0. Brown, he was retained on duty at these headquarters to aid the assistant commissioner until his services could be dispensed with, and he was by General Order No. 1, from these headquar. ters, dated June 27, 1866, appointed acting assistant adjutant general.
The territory under the charge of the assistant commissioner now embraces the States of Virginia and West Virginia, excepting the counties of Fairfax and Alexandria, in the first mentioned State.
Owing to the recent date at which the State of West Virginia was assigned to this department, and the small number of freedmen within its limits, it has required but little attention from these headquarters. As the report of bureau affairs in this State will undoubtedly be made by the assistant commissioner recently in charge, the following report will apply only to the State of Virginia.
The result of a census complete in some districts, and of a careful estimate in others, shows the colored population to number about 500,000, not varying materially from that before the late rebellion.
The division of the department into districts and sub-districts has been continued. Owing to the muster-out of officers it was not possible to keep assistant quartermasters as superintendents of districts, and the charge of nearly all bureau property has been transferred to the chief quartermaster and financial agent
In order to give additional influence in a legitimate form, application was made for " officers in the military service, acting as superintendents or assistant superintendents, to be invested with all the power and authority usually exercised by provost marshals,” which was ordered by special order, headquarters department of Virginia, dated January 24, 1866.
In May last, when the jurisdiction of bureau courts had been resigned to the State tribunals, it was found possible to reduce the number of officers on duty. The roster at that time showed on the staff and in charge of districts and sub-districts, ninety-one (91) officers in the military service, and ninc civilians. At the present time there are sixty-three (63) military officers exclusively on bureau duty, as follows, viz: one colonel, two lieutenant colonels, one major, one surgeon of volunteers, twenty-one captains, thirteen first lieutenants, and twenty-four second lieutenants. Three civilians are employed as superintendents and assistants, one as superintendent of schools, and thirteen civilians as physicians.
Subsequent to the last report a system of inspection was adopted, by which the department was divided into two inspection divisions; Lieutenant Colonel Garrick Mallery, Veteran Reserve Corps, brevet colonel United States volunteers, being assigned to the northern, and Lieutenant Colonel H. Reide, Veteran Reserve Corps, brevet brigadier general United States volunteers, to the southern division. Careful and frequent inspection tours and reports have been made by these officers. In addition to this, the several superintendents of districts have been required to inspect and report upon all the sub-districts within their juris. diction.
All assistant superintendents are required to report at the end of each month, specifically in relation to the following subjects within their sub-districts, viz: the number of freedmen able to work for whom employment cannot be found, whether there is a surplus demand for labor ; the manner in which the State laws are executed,; whether the freedmen have been treated with impartiality, and the law in respect to their testimony carried out in good faith, or otherwise ; the condition of bureau affairs, including contracts made and violated ; labor and its reward ; the support of aged and infirm, and the domestic relatious of the freedmen, with all else bearing upon their welfare.
THE ISSUE OF RATIONS.
In affording this relief there has been an earnest attempt to discourage pauperism while preventing suffering, and to have the issue confined to the helpless and destitute, but not extended to those persons able to work for whom employment could be furnished, either at the place of their residence or elsewhere.
At the beginning of the present year, cases of support of aged and infirm freedmen by former owners were too few and insignificant for calculation, nor did the civil authorities in any instance recognize the claims of this class, which, owing to the former system of sale and exportation of large numbers of the young and able-bodied, was, and is, disproportionately large.
There were also multitudes carried by the tide of war far from their old homes to localities that could not afford sufficient employment for support, yet unwilling to return; also, in the unsettled relations of labor to supply and demand there were thousands, untaught to seek a livelihood, who were for a time unable to find it.
Many attempts were made by land owners to employ foreign immigrants instead of colored labor, which, however, have proved unsuccessful, although an act was passed in March last by the legislature for its encouragement, with a preamble reciting that “the recent radical change in the labor system of the South has rendered the introduction of a new class of laborers necessary.”
In nearly all the counties taxes have been imposed upon the former slave population, to the collection of which no obstacle has been interposed. As this taxation implies the correlative right of support for the aged and infirm poor of that class, as well as general protection, all possible exertions have been made to secure proper action by the several counties and towns.
In December last the overseers of the poor of the various counties and corporations were notified of the paupers belonging to each, who were supported by the bureau, and were requested to relieve the government of their care and maintenance. This elicited no favorable action. By circular of March 21 the following questions were addressed to each board of overseers of the poor, viz: “ Will you undertake to provide for the maintenance or assistance of destitute colored persons having a settlement in your town, or county, in the same manner as is provided for destitute white persons ?” “What will be the character of such maintenance or assistance; and if it cannot be provided for all destitute colored persons, for what proportion will you undertake to provide? What rule do you propose for your own action on the whole subject of colored paupers ?" Also to ascertain the exact facts upou the kindred subject of taxation. All the clerks of the counties and corporations were by circular of April 6 called upon to answer as to the following particulars :
1. The amount of county levy required to be paid by each tithable
poor rates ? 4. What amount is laid on real estate, per $100 valuation, to defray county levy and poor tax?
5. What is the comparative number of the colored with white tithables ?
The answers to these interrogatories have shown that in nearly the whole State the freedmen are taxed for county and poor purposes precisely as the whites, all males above sixteen years being taxed, except such as may be relieved by special order of the county court on account of age or infirmity. It was by law optional with the county authorities to levy this tax upon property or per capita, or to adopt both methods; but, as a rule throughout the State, nearly the whole tax has been levied
per capita for these
purposes, in certain counties, where colored persons preponderate, the tax is largely assessed upon them.
In the majority of cases the county authorities recognize the right of the colored paupers to a support, but a great proportion of these assert their present inability to perform that admitted duty.
There is also a question raised between various counties and corporations which diminishes the prospect of relief. The code of Virginia fixes twelve months' residence in the county or corporation as the period necessary to gain a settlement. The greater number of destitute freedmen in the State have been for a longer period than one year residents of localities other than their old homes. The counties where they now reside refuse to acknowledge them because they were not residents there before the war, and demand their return to their original counties, while the latter insist that their absence for the last one two, or three years has forfeited their legal settlement and claim for support. Thus, between the two, but little relief for this large class is obtained.
The largest body of destitutes has been upon the peninsula of Virginia, and chiefly in the neighborhoods of Hampton and Yorktown, to which points, being within the lines of the army, great multitudes flocked during the war, and, though somewhat reduced, remain in numbers much exceeding the normal population.
The land at first occupied by these people has been generally restored to its former owners, and there is not demand for labor proportionate to the population; indeed, from the failure of crops, there has not been enough raised on the peninsula to feed the colored inhabitants.
A considerable number of those drawing rations in this region were the wives and families of colored soldiers, to whom the government had pledged its support.
The persistency with which the surplus population of the peninsula has adhered to this locality, without hope of a permanent or sufficient livelihood, and against the advice and exertions of the bureau officers, has been and still remains a serious evil.
The present issue of rations is under Circular No. 10 from headquarters of the bureau, dated 22d of August last, discontinuing the issue to all except to the sick in regularly organized hospitals, and orphan asylums already existing."
The above circular was modified in respect to this department by instructions from the Commissioner of September 27, as follows: "If, after due notification of the requirements of Circular No. 10, current series, the State officials refuse to take charge of the poor, then, in extreme cases only, and to prevent actual starvation, you may make special requieition for the rations needed, stating the particulars of each case, and the requisition will be approved."
By indorsement of the Commissioner, of October 4, these instructions were also extended to destitute refugees as well as freedmen.
The proper authorities of all the counties and corporations were promptly notified of the above circular by a copy being furnished, the receipt of which was acknowledged. From the manifest resolve of the civil authorities in many parts of Virginia not to take care of their aged and infirm poor, and the fact that many even of the able-bodied will, during the winter, be out of work, without having been able to save sufficient for their support, it is believed that under the above modified instructions it will be necessary to continue relief to a considerable extent.
The following tables will show the amount and value of rations issued during each month since the last annual report.
The increase since September 1 is due to the addition of the State of West Virginia to this department.