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There is no doubt that throughout the department the freedmen, considering the circumstances, are working well. From the changes produced by the war there is an irregular distribution of labor with reference to supply and demand, In a few districts the demand exceeds the supply, but the reverse is true of the larger portion of the State. The wages given are low, averaging, for an ablebodied man, about nine dollars per month, with rations, and without clothing. The officers of the bureau have drawn many of the labor contracts, and have advised and assisted the freedmen in others.
There have been frequent attempts to impose upon the freedmen by unjust and one-sided contracts, and when the person who hired labor no longer needs it, it is not rare to find the laborer turned away and payment evaded on trivial pretexts.
The freedmen are rapidly learning to appreciate the obligations they assume under contracts, and it is believed that they observe such as are plain and just as well as white laborers in the north.
In some districts the system of working on shares has been adopted, but has occasioned much trouble from the interference of the land-owners with the hours and independence of the party contracting with him. The supervision formerly existing under slave rule is, to a great extent, claimed by the owner, and, in default of entire compliance, penalties are exacted which, taken out of the share of crops raised, would leave the year's labor with little remunera.
Ex. Doc. 6-11
tion. As long as local magistrates are to decide disputes of this character, a they do at present, the system of work upon shares is to the disadvantage of the frecdmen.
Circular No. 6, from headquarters of the bureau, dated July 2, 1866, giving instructions on the sulject of the “ homestead actual settlement” of public lands in the States of Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Florida, under the act of Congress approved June 21, 1866, was duly promulgated with additional instructions from these headquarters of July 23. On the 5th of July applications was made to headquarters of the bureau for as complete maps and descriptions as could be obtained from the land office, or any other source, and the inquiry made whether transportation could be furnished to freedmen, together with such temporary subsistence as they might require.
On August 16, by indorsement from the headquarters of the bureau, information was given that “transportation and subsistence would be furnished the freedmen to the localities to which they desired to go.”
No information regarding the particular location of the lands has been received
The piesentation to the freedmen of the advantages offered by the homestead act was made at a season of the year when, and was limited to the time for which, many of them had made contracts, or had crops growing which they were unwilling to leave.
It is also to be considered that apart from the timidity of the race, disinclining them to emigrate to regions to them uuknown, no further offer could, as above shown, be made to them beyond their transportation and subsistence during travel.
Of the class that were disposed to emigrate none had means enough to procure the necessary teams, seeds, and farming implements, or to purchase subsistence after their arrival, when government aid would have been withdrawn.
The only mode in which these people could be expected to settle in the distant and wild localities offered to them would be by affording additi nal aid from government or organized charities, which could not be with safety promised.
The result has therefore been that no good has been accomplished in this direction.
DOMESTIC RELATIONS OF THE FREEDMEN. On the 27th of February the legislature of the State of Virginia passed an important act in relation to the future marriages of colored persons, and further declaring as follows: "When colored persons, before the passage of this act, shall have undertaken and agreed to occupy the relation to each other of husband and wife, and shall be cohabiting together at the time of its passage, whether the rites of marriage shall have been celebrated between them or not, they shall be deemed husband and wife, and be entitled to the rights and privileges and subject to the duties and obligations of that relation in like manner as if they had been duly married by law, and all their children shall be deemed legitimate, whether born before or after the passage of this act; and when the parties have ceased to cohabit before the passage of this act, in consequence of the death of the woman, or from any other cause, all the children of the woman, recognized by the man to be his, shall be deemed legitimate."
The importance of this legislation has been very great; the freed people have joyfully availed themselves of its provisions to sanction their union, and the pride and security felt by them in this privilege have tended to their moral elevation.
With the right to acquire and hold property, questions of importance arise which render the provisions with reference to the legitimization of children highly useful.
While, however, the act of the assembly is thus beneficial, it makes no provision whatever for the registration or certification of these legislative marriages or legitimatized children, which, under instructions from these headquarters, has been done through many counties of Virginia by the officers of the bureau, and is still in progress.
The freedmen have manifested a praiseworthy desire to live in the family relation, and members of families long separated have taken great pains to become reunited.
The number of acres of land held by the bureau at the time of last year's report was fifty-six thousand and one, (56,001.) The number held at the present time is ten thousand one hundred and eighty-six and one-half, (10,1864,) of which by far the larger part is wood-land, or land unfit for cultivation.
All lands for which application has been made under the provisions of Circular 15, series 1863, War Department, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, have been restored, except about two hundred (200) acres, reserved from necessity for hospital purposes in various districts.
Some of the above lands when applied for had been leased to freedmen for this present year, and were restored to the owners, subject to such leases ; the rent after restoration to be paid to the owners.
BOUNTIES AND PENSIONS.
The number of claims presented since the last annual report is two hundred and sixty-five, (265,) and the number collected one hundred and thirty-six (136.)
FINANCIAL AND QUARTERMASTER'S DEPARTMENT.
The total amount of funds expended during the year is one hundred and forty thousand three hundred and forty-seven dollars and fifty-four cents ($140,347 54.) Of this amount ninety-one thousand and thirty-two dollars and forty-three cents ($91,032 43) bas been received from the cultivation and rent of lands, and from other sources within the department; the balance has been drawn from the chief financial agent of the bureau at Washington.
It is impossible to ascertain the value of quartermaster's property expended, it being mostly unserviceable, and not having been appraised when turned over to the bureau.
The amount has, however, been small, as shown by the accompanying report of Brevet Major George Q. White, captain and assistant quartermaster of volunteers, chief quartermaster and financial agent of the bureau for the department, to which, as well as to his financial report, your attention is respectfully invited.
This department has continued under the able and energetic charge of Surgeon J. J. De Lamater, assisted by thirteen paid and two unpaid contract physicians.
At the date of the last annual report there were eleven hospitals, of which three have been discontinued. Two have been established at new points. Ten (10) are now in operation, containing six hundred and fifty-nine (659) patients, and with a capacity for accommodating ten hundred and ten (1,010.) One physician is in charge of each of these hospitals. In addition five (5) are on duty at other stations among freedmen in quarters.
The amount paid during the year for physicians and hospital attendants is twenty-three thousand three hundred and eighty dollars ($23,380.)
Two dispensaries have been established, at which over eighteen thousand (18,000) prescriptions have been made up.
A ward for insane colored persons has been fitted up at the Howard Grove hospital near Richmond, and now contains thirty-one (31) patients.
A home for the aged and infirm is also established at the last named hospital, where eighty-nine persons are receiving care.
The orphan asylum near Richmond has during the year received two hun. dred and five (205) orphans ; of these one hundred and thirty-eight (138) have been provided homes in and sent to the northern States.
The hospitals are in good condition, comparing favorably with government hospitals in general.
The mortality has been considerably less among freedmen, both in hospital and in quarters, than during the last year, notwithstanding the prevalence o small-pox and cholera.
The number of sick freedmen treated by regular medical officers of the bureau in hospitals and quarters throughout the department during the year has been as follows: Adult males...
4, 911 Adult females
6, 182 Children, males..
2, 725 Children, females..
The deaths among these patients have been as follows:
320 273 146 148
The mortality being about five and one-third per cent. A large number of freedmen living near the bureau hospitals and stations of medical officers have been furnished with temporary medical aid and medicines without being placed on the sick list.
Including all, it is probable that not less than thirty thousand freedmen have received aid during the present year from the bureau in this department.
Much praise is due the local physicians throughout the State for the gratuitoas service rendered freedmen when sick. In many instances, besides giving their professional services, they have furnished medicines to the freedmen at their own cost.
For a more detailed statement, I respectfully refer to the accompanying report of Surgeon J. J. De Lamater.
Reverend R. M. Manly has been continued in the office of superintendent of schools for the department.
The year opened with one hundred and thirty-six (136) teachers and eightyfive hundred (8,500) scholars. Six months later there were two hundred and twenty-five teachers and nearly eighteen thousand scholars.
The average number of teachers during the school season was one hundred and ninety-eix, (196 ;) the average "whole attendance” of pupils fourteen thousand, (14,000 ;) and the average daily attendance" ten thousand three hundred and thirty, (10,330.)
The largest number of schools open at any one time was one hundred and forty-five (145.)
The location of these schools, it is believed, has been judicious. Their success has been most satisfactory, and has established the fact beyond question that the freedmen are as capable of acquiring at least the rudiments of an education as whites.
The public sentiment against the education of the colored race is being gradually overcome.
The freedmen themselves are unanimous and enthusiastic on the subject, demanding tuition, and being ready to give out of their poverty for educational purposes. The late appropriation made by Congress for this object has enabled the schools to organize at the commencement of the present season under better conditions than heretofore.
The superintendence of Mr. Manly deserves high praise, and his report herewith submitted is recommended for special examination.
ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE.
The bureau courts, constituted as described in the last general report, were continued during the first mouth of the present year.
The legislature of Virginia, however, amended the laws in respect to criminal matters in the manner set forth in the following circular from these headquarters, issued March 12, 1864:
[Circular No. 10.)
Richmond, Virginia, March 12, 1866. 1. The following portion of an act entitled " An act relative to the testimony of colored persons,” passed February 28, 1866, by the legislature of Virginia, is published for the information of the officers and agents of this bureau :
Be it enacted by the general assembly, That colored persons and Indians shall, if otherwise competent, and subject to the rules applicable to other persons, be admitted witnesses in the following cases :
"2. In all criminal cases and proceedings at law or in equity, in which a colored person or Indian is a party, or which arise out of injury done, attempted, or threatened to the person, property, or rights of a colored person or Indian, or in which it is alleged in the presentinent, information, or indictment, or in which the court is of opinion from the other evidence, that there is probable cause to believe that the offence was committed by a white person in conjunction or cooperation with a colored person or Indian.”
Also the following portion of “ An act to amend and re-enact the ninth section of chapter 103 of the Code of Virginia of 1860,” &c. :
“Be it enacted by the general assembly, That any person having one-fourth or more of negro blood shall be deemed a colored person, and every person not a colored person having one-fourth or more of Indian blood shall be deemed an Indian.
"All laws in respect to crimes and punishment, and in respect to criminal proceedings, applicable to white persons, shall apply in like manner to colored persons and to Indians, unless when it is otherwise specially provided."
II. From and after the reception of this order, until further orders, no criminal cases will be tried by any officer or agent of the bureau in this State, except such as may at that time have been commenced.
III. It will henceforth be the duty of the assistant superintendents to attend