A Habeas Corpus Case in Texas--The Writ Respected by Gen. Gregory
NEW-ORLEANS, Friday, Dec. 8.
The Telegraph, of the 1st inst., reports the arrest, by Gen. GREGORY, of M. ELMORE, late a Colonel in the Confederate States Army, on the charge of using dogs to catch a negro and falsely imprisoning him.
The plea of Col. ELMORE is that the dogs were used to track an unknown thief, who proved to be the negro who was caught.
A writ of habeas corpus was served on Gen. GREGORY, who respected it, but asked an extension until Jan. 15 to answer to it, so that he might receive instructions from Washington in regard to the matter.
Col. ELMORE was released upon giving heavy ball.
[source: New York Times 25 December 1865, page 2]
Brevet Brig.-Gen. E. M. GREGORY, Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau for the State of Texas, only reached his station on Sept. 21, and the organization of that State takes date from that period.
This officer served with credit in the Army of the Potomac, and was recommended by Gen. MEADE and others for detail in the bureau.
Although the bureau has been in operation so short a time in this State, Gen. GREGORY reports quite a favorable disposition on the part of the citizens to treat the freedmen with fairness, and that the freedmen are working with evident confidence in their employers. Gen. GREGORY is of the opinion that this year's crops of cotton, corn, wheat, &c. will be secured and saved to the inhabitants of the State, and that there will be no lack of subsistence in Texas, and ought not to be much suffering among the freedmen.
Gen. GREGORY has succeeded in securing the cooperation of the civil and military authorities, and expresses himself as well pleased with the prospects of the freedmen in his State.
He has called upon the freedmen and planters to make contracts, the one with the other, for the approaching season, and urges on the employer the wisdom of paying his hands each month as the surest way of inducing them to comply with their contracts, and he hopes to obtain for the freedmen the rights to purchase and work homesteads of their own.
Gen. GREGORY is organizing schools as fast as possible, but complains that he is greatly in need of funds to carry on his operation. He has no abandoned lands on his hands and has to depend on a small tax on contracts for funds to defray his current expenses.
[New York Times 8 February 1866 page 8]
Charges Against Gen. Gregory of the Freedmen's Bureau--Immigration--Gen. Howard Denounced.
GALVESTON, Saturday, Feb. 3.
Ex-President BURNET has published a list of severe charges against Gen. GREGORY, in his administration of the Freedmen's Bureau. Gen. GREGORY says they are false, and demands a retraction or full proof.
Colonies of Europeans are coming into Texas. Poles are settling on Trinity River, near Palestine. Germans and others from the Northwestern States are settling in the colonies.
Flake's Bulletin, a thorough Union paper and government organ, at Galveston, denounces Gen. HOWARD'S management of the Freedmen's Bureau, and speaks of him as a religious hypocrite.
[New York Times 26 February 1866 page 1]
Escape of Wigfall--Freedmen's Bureau Matters--The Colored Churches of Texas--The Cotton Market.
GALVESTON, Sunday, Feb. 18
WIGFALL escaped from Texas three weeks since.
Ex-President BURNETT is preparing a reply to Gen. GREGORY, who demanded proof to sustain BURNET'S charges of mal-administration and corruption of the Freedmen's Bureau.
The Methodist Church North offers to take the negro churches of Texas under its protection.
Cotton is dull. Exchange on New-York par to one cent discount. Dry goods improving.
Emigration to Texas continuing.
A wharf cotton press and warehouse company, with $1,000,000 capital, has been formed, paying $400,000 in gold for lots.
A cotton factory has been established at Houston, and another is organizing by capitalists here. It is proposed to dig a ten feet [sic] canal from Buffalo Bayou to Galveston Bay.
[New York Times 19 February 1866, page 1]
AFFAIRS IN TEXAS.
A Graphic but Not Flattering Picture of Society.
THE FREEDMEN CONTENTED AND AT WORK
The Course Pursued by General Gregory.
From Our Own Correspondent.GALVESTON, Saturday, Feb. 3, 1866.
This is the commercial capital of the Lone Star dominion, and the city where they shoot cross-eyed men and red-headed women at sight, where they used to draw and quarter a Dutchman, scheme for emigration, and eat pork until you can feel the bristles. The real old Galvestonians--that is, the F. F. Gs.--wear long hair like crazy poets, soap their greasy locks and the ends of their dismally thin moustaches, and look daggers at intellectual people. They drink whisky that will kill at twelve paces, go home blind drunk every night and get up ditto every morning. The full programme of a high-toned ranger is to get full of bad whisky, lick some small boy, fire off his revolver three or four times, kill a Mexican, and beat his wife, and d-m the Yankees--this last being set to music. The war hasn't improved this class much: and the best place for a stranger to keep is in the house. Not a night has passed for a month but what some poor fellow has been found murdered the next morning. Three murderers took a poor hack-driver out on the beach a few nights ago and cut his throat for five dollars.
Before the war Galveston had about nine thousand inhabitants--now it has full fourteen thousand, of which at least two thousand are murderers, vagabonds and thieves. The state of society is most unhealthy I can assure you, and no person who has any knowledge of these things, and a respect for his own life, ventures out after dark. There are a great many rough characters here from New York, Chicago, St. Louis, and Cincinnati, a large number of whom are discharged Government employees. A few days ago two fellows fought a prize-fight near the city, and, after ninety-two rounds, one of the party was declared the winner, when a free fight took place, in which three were killed and a number wounded. The loser of the fight is to be the recipient of a "handsome testimonial," in the shape of a sparring exhibition, in which twenty-two prize-fighters (sporting gentlement the bills say) are to assist. The people are talking strongly of getting up a Vigilance Committee, and I believe they will if the military do not interfere. Things are far worse than they were in Vicksburgh in 1834, or in San Francisco in 1865, and it seems to be the impression that there is but this way remaining of ridding the community of these vicious characters.
There never has been a time when a man's life was over safe in Texas. Everybody--rogues and gentlemen--go [sic] armed, and shoot and cut each other upon the least provocation. And, as a general thing, these fellow's [sic] weapons are not concealed--they carry Bowie-knives and pistols in their belts, and carry what is called a Mexican cane, which is nothing more or less than a sword-cane, or foil, without any case or sheath. Last week a Texan from near Victoria was killed in a bar-room by being run through with one of these Mexican canes, but, while he was being run through with the cane, he shot his pistol through his pocket, discharging its contents into the stomach of his assailant, and both dropped dead upon the floor together. Last Monday morning a murderer was brought into court and a jury impaneled. The evidence on both sides was heard, the lawyers on both sides went through with their accustomed harangues, the Judge had his say, and his smoke, too, at the same time,) the Jury went out, disagreed, came in, the prisoner was discharged--and all before dinner. How are you Texas courts? Last night Major FARR, of Gen. WRIGHT'S staff, and Capt. HALE, of the Commissary Department, were returning home from their office in an ambulance, when some fellows shouted, "Stop that hack!" Of course no attention was paid to the summons, and three bullets went whizzing through the ambulance, but fortunately without injuring the officers or driver. I could mention many such things, but these are enough to give you an idea of the state of society here.
HOW THE PEOPLE FEEL.
Financially speaking, the people of Texas have not suffered at all. But, on the contrary, they have made money by the war, and lots of it--and hard money, at that. There are a few people who have accounts against the late Confederate States; but on the whole, the State has made a good thing out of the war, and everybody has a plenty [sic] of money. Texas was always a specie State, and did not get hit much by Confederate paper. Millions of dollars were made by blockade-running at this place and at Indianola, and also up the Rio Grande, while a vast amount of cotton was raised and sent to Europe during the whole progress of the war. There is some considerable cotton in this vicinity at present, and the owners choose rather to hold it than to sell. I have been informed by several gentlemen here that there are millions of pounds of wool in hand, and agents of New York, Boston and Philadelphia houses are here trying to purchase, but the owners ask what it is selling for in those cities. Silver is used altogether as money, and with the exception of an occasional greenback, you see nothing but specie. The people do not refuse greenbacks, however, but they prefer specie. For a bootblack, or shave, or a drink, it is a quarter--specie or currency. But at the hotels, where they charge five dollars a day, (in specie,) it is six dollars in greenbacks.
When the war broke out, it is estimated that there were over sixty thousand Germans in this State. As a general thing, they owned few or no slaves, and as a general thing, vehemently oppposed secession. Those men remained firm even after Texas had seceded and when the war had quite broke out, and hundreds of them were hung and gibbeted in consequence. The cruelties practiced upon the East Tennesseans were few and slight, compared with the awful ones which were inflicted upon the loyal Germans of Texas. Necessarily, there is a feeling of bitter revenge on the part of the survivors, most of whom were forced in to the Confederate Army or compelled to quit the State. Hundreds of those who assisted in the persecution of these loyal men are refugees in Mexico, and dare no return, while many of those who have returned have been summarily dealt with. In what is known as the Wheat District, sixty loyal Germans were hung in the Fall of 1861. These Germans were scattered all over the State, and, as a general thing, were poor, and owned small ranches. Now that they have got the upper hand, they are being avenged, and a great deal of bitter feeling is rife in consequence. I have talked with several Germans of this city, and they are just as full of patriotism, I find, as ever.
Outside of this feeling there is a very general and ardent desire for harmony and a return of the old peaceful condition of things. On the whole, I think there is as much good feeling here as I have seen anywhere. As in other States, there is no enthusiasm, and, I dare say, very little real substantial love for the United States flag. But the people talk and behave right, and seem determined to be reconciled to their fate. As in the other States, the soldiers, from General officers down to the privates, are perfectly well satisfied with the result, with a few exceptions, while the stay-at-homes, as they are called here, are the only discontented parties. While their neighbors were in the field, sharing together and enduring the worse, these growlers were at home engaged in the profitable enterprise of blockade-running, and hoarding up treasure thereby. Now that they are no longer able to amass fortunes by illegitimate pursuits, they settle down into a state of growl, and oftentimes carry themselves so far as to elicit the ill-will of the very men whom they are pretending to praise.
So far everything connected with the Freedmen's Bureau of this State is a success. Gen. E. M. GREGORY, of Philadelphia, is the Commissioner in Texas, and great credit is due him for his sagacity in the management of affairs in this connection. When Gen. GREGORY first came to this State he found everything in a whirl of excitement, and the existence of a general misunderstanding between the races. Necessarily he found much opposition, and experienced a great deal of trouble in organizing his corps of assistants, and in several instances was the author of little mistakes. He had not been here long, however, before he discovered that he must go among the colored people and inform them of their true status. So one day he called a meeting, and some eight thousand negroes of this county were present. At the commencement of his remarks he asked all those who had made contracts to raise their hands, and but one hand went up. This was his cue, and he delivered himself accordingly.
He first informed them that he was their friend--that the Government had sent him among them to act as their counsel and defender. He then told them that all those who were laboring under the impression that they were to inherit the lands and properties of their former masters were mistaken; and the General called upon all good citizens and officers of the army to disabuse the freedmen's [sic] minds of this error, and to circulate the order contradicting all such reports. He urged the freedmen to go to work, and told them that in all cases they should be allowed to enter into free and voluntary contracts with employers of their own choice, but assured them that their contracts, which should be approved and registered, could not be broken by either party without sufficient cause. In the course of his remarks he caused them in particular to understand that they were entirely free, and could contract to work where and for whom they pleased, but at the same time he told them that a life of idleness would not be encouraged or allowed.
There were some three or four hundred planters present at the meeting, to whom he also addressed himself plainly. He told them that the labor system should be established on the basis of mutual interest, and respectfully recommended that they should settle all past liabilities and make contracts for the ensuing season at once, and on fair and liberal compensation, and the extension of educational facilities, was the most direct way to promote and develop this mutual interest.
At the conclusion of his remarks he asked all those who would promise him to make contracts to raise their hands, and the entire eight thousand signified their willingness to do so, and did so at once. He addressed himself again particularly to the planters, and told them to bear in mind that all orders, rules, ordinances or laws, issued by any authority whatever, which conflict with the rights and liberties of freedmen, must be considered null and void, and of no effect. He also told them that, although he should calculate to deal fairly with all parties, he should consider himself the true friend of the freedmen at all times, and should arrest and punish all persons, white or black, who broke contracts or violated any of the laws which determined the rights and liberties of the freedmen. So successful was Gen. GREGORY at this meeting that he went all over Eastern and Central Texas, and delivered himself in the same manner and with the same success; and the consequence is that the freedmen are at work all over the State, and a feeling of general satisfaction exists between the employers and employee [sic] exceeding the anticipations of the most hopeful. All of the newspapers in the State, and all of the agents of the Bureau, agree that the freedmen are all at work.
I spent quite a time at Gen. GREGORY'S office, yesterday, and although quite a number of planters called, not one had a complaint to make about the freedmen; on the contrary, they spoke of the colored people in the highest terms, and were well satisfied all around. There are some four hundred thousand colored men and women in this State, not one of whom are a burden to the Government. Gen. GREGORY says that he would not be astonished if there was as much cotton raised in Texas this year, if the negroes do not leave their employers during the hot season, as there was in 1860. The negroes are getting paid very well. None of them get less than fifteen dollars (in specie) a month, and their board, while on the Brazos and Little Brazos, San Antonio, San Marco, Colorado and Trinity Rivers, the laborers are working on shares, some of whom are to get half of the crop after expenses. The Germans, who own ranches on all of these rivers, are using small sets of hands at so much a month, and the entire proceeds of all the cotton gathered after so many pounds to the acre. So scarce is help that some of the planters areoffering twenty dollars a head bonus for good colored men.
There are sixteen schools for colored children in fine running order throughout the State, at which twelve thousand children are receiving an education at no expense to the Government--all under the charge of Mr. E. M. WHEELOCK, who gave me the following circular:OFFICE OF SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS FOR FREEDMEN AND REFUGEES, STATE OF TEXAS.
The observance of the following regulations is enjoined on the teachers of the freedmen in Texas:
1. The school hours shall be from 9 A.M. to 2:30 P.M., with a half hour's recess at midday.
2. The morning exercises will commence with either the singing of an appropriate hymn, or prayer, or the reading of the Scriptures.
3. A regular order of school exercises shall be posted in each school room.
4. The three studies of primary importance for the freedmen are reading, writing and arithmetic. Teachers will therefore make these branches most prominent.
5. The holidays shall be the same as those customarily celebrated in the white schools of this State.
6. In the freedmen's school severity of discipline is not required, and will not be permitted. The modes of punishment must not differ from those employed in the best school systems of the North.
7. Night-schools for adults, and Sunday-schools for religious instruction, may be organized by any teacher. The night-schools shall be kept in session every week-day evening, except Saturday, from 7 to 9:30 P.M.
8. Until the expenses of these schools are otherwise defrayed, a tuition fee, not exceeding one dollar and a half per month, may be collected by the teacher from each pupil attending day or night school. No other contributions or collections will be taken by the teachers without the permission of the superintendent.
9. A daily register of attendance will be kept, and on the 15th of each month, the teachers will furnish this office with a monthly report, tabular forms for which will be given. On the blank page they will state the general progress made; the hindrances, if any, encountered, with the reasons and remedies therefor; and, in general, such practical suggestions as shall seem calculated to give fresh impulse and efficiency to their work.E.M. WHEELOCK.
Lieutenant, Sperintendent of Schools for Freedmen and Refugees, State of Texas.
Gen. GREGORY has seventeen officers on duty throughout the State, five of whom are citizens, all of whom report a fine order of things. The planters, it seems, took hold of the free-labor system with a good grace. They seem to understand that the day of the lash and of corporal punishment is past, and that black men as well as white must be governed by law and moral power. I find a great many gentlemen in this section who practically realize that slaver is dead, past all resurrection--that it is adverse to the spirit of the age and the dreams of a free people--and many of these gentlemen are heartily glad of it. The planters here seem to understand that it is essential to their success to accord to the negro all the rights of the freedman, and to meet him in the true spirit of justice and kindness. On the other hand, Gen. GREGORY and his assistants have rendered every just encouragement to the planter, to assist him to adapt himself to the new condition of labor. Thus, every thing is going on in apple-pie order, so to speak; and Gen. GREGORY, his assistants, the colored people, the planters, and all hands, in fact, are to be thanked for it. The Convention will meet at Austin in a few days, and it is hoped and believed that the delegates will be just toward those they have kept in bondage so long.
A curious case came up in court here a few days ago. It seems that a stage-driver was found at a place about half a mile from town, one day last week, with his throat cut from ear to ear. No clue could be had regarding the murder for some time, until a negro remarked that he knew one of themen who hired the coach. The man named was arrested, and the negro brought to court as a witness. The lawyers for the defence objected to the evidence of the negro as illegal and in conflict with the laws of the State of Texas. The District-Attorney argued that, as slavery had been abolished, all such laws which heretofore governed the ex-slave were null and void, and the negro's evidence was admitted. This is in advance of anything yet, as this was not a case where the negro or his rights had a bearing. If the Convention would only take the same common sense view of these things, and not exhibit such exceeding fright for a poor nigger, as he is sometimes called, all honest men would get their just dues.
A great many colored soldiers are distributed throughout this section of the country, and, as a general thing, they behave themselves very well. They are not allowed to tamper with the freedmen at all, and many of them are being mustered out of the service, to the great delight of everybody.
AFFAIRS ON THE RIO GRANDE--THE BAGDAD AFFAIR.
I called on Gen. WRIGHT last evening, who has just returned from the Rio Grande. He says he has sent his report to Washington, the publication of which will no doubt anticipate me. He informs me that everything is quiet along the banks of that muddy stream, and he also says that the United States troops have done nothing which disgraces them as an organization, or reflects the least discredit on the Government. He says that the troops are exceedingly anxious to have a snarl with the gentlemen of fighting proclivities on the opposite bank, but he has taken particular pains to guard against all violations of strict neutrality.
In reference to the Bagdad affair, Gen. WRIGHT says that the whole thing was a plundering expedition, gotten up by a sutler named SEARS, whom he has under arrest. Some of our colored troops, he says, have been involved, and all such are under arrest. After the capture of the place--which was one of the most shocking acts of plunder, murder and vandalism ever perpetrated--Gen. WRIGHT says CRAWFORD went over and took command. ESCOBADO did the same thing, and the two adventurers got to quarreling with each other, the latter getting a little the best of CRAWFORD, who pulled down his colors and lost his grip. I sent you a protest a few days ago, signed by the Mexican merchants of Bagdad, without introduction or comment. Gen. WRIGHT tells me that this was gotten up at the point of the (French) bayonet, and is of no account.
So far as ascertained, the loyal people of Texas are strongly opposed to MAXIMILLIAN and his Government, and the disloyal and disaffected are as strongly in favor of his Government and wish him success; there is a reason for this sympathy with and support of MAXIMILLIAN which reveals an ulterior object on the part of those still exhibiting a bitterness toward, and opposition in, the United States; it is believed that the idea is entertained by them, and an effort being made, to aid in establishing an European Power (probably French or Austrian) in Mexico, with the view of eventually making an alliance therewith, and that country the basis of future operations of a hostile character against the Government of the United States to gain what the late rebellion sought but lost. The remark is not unfrequently made that "we shall have this fight over again--it is a matter of time." This attempt to subvert the Republican form of Government of Mexico and establish there an Empire, and by a POWER whose sympathies with the late rebellion are so well known, is a matter of no insignificant support to our people and country.
The already great and the increasing importance of our Western Territories, from the vast mineral wealth therein, which is now being developed, and the influx of population thereto, make it the interest of our country to have a seaport on our Southwestern border, as a commercial depot for a large and rich area of our territory. This point is the port of Guayman, with the smaller one of Loleos (or Libertad) in the State of Sonora. There are the natural bases of supplies for Arizona, a large part of New Mexico if not all, with much other rich mineral, agricultural and grazing territory to the north. These ports once in the possession of the United States, the interests and business of our Western Territories would soon construct from these points on the Gulf of California a railroad into the interior, which would be a great commercial channel, and would prove a great element of power, wealth and civilization in our country. That a portion of the State of Sonora could be secured easily, by friendly negotiation with the Mexican Government, there is not a doubt. These ports would give the United States command of the Gulf of California and the Pacific coast, essentially necesary to the peace and welfare of our country generally. Their possession by the United States would prove of vital importance to her in case of any difficulty with foreign Powers, as also protection to Mexico against their aggression upon her.
As will be seen by the map, this city is situated near the northern extremity of Galveston Island, and on the bay of the same name, and is often called the "Island City." It is well laid out, and contains at present about 14,000 inhabitants, a large number of whom are Germans. It is quote an extensive shipping point, presenting but one impediment in this connection, which is a bar of quicksand a few miles from the city. With the exception of the largest, however, most vessels can be taken over during high water. There are sixty-odd vessels and steamers in port while I write. The gulf portion of Galveston Island presents the finest stretch of uninterrupted beach in the country, which constitutes the fashionable drive for Galvestonians, and all lovers of horse flesh and young ladies' nonsense, go it here on a 2:40 gait.
The shipping interests of this port are greatly on the increase. Although the railroad from here to Houston is transporting an incredible amount of freight, there are no less than twelve steamboats now plying regularly between Galveston and Houston. There are thirteen steamships making regular trips between here and New Orleans, and more are to be put on the line. Messrs. HARRIS & MORGAN will soon have nine in their line alone. Then Messrs. FLANAGAN, of Philadelphia, are building three iron steamships, twenty feet longer than those of the Harris & Morgan line, to be put on to run with the Tonawanda, now on, making four in all. They will be superb passenger boats and every way suited to the trade. Messrs. T. H. MCMAHAN & GILBERT will be the consignees of these magnificent steamships. The contract specifies that they shall be "faster" (that is the word used) than any now running between New Orleans and Galveston.
The following are the number of troops in the Department of Texas, under the command of Gen. WRIGHT: In this city, 10th U.S. Colored Infantry; at Bronsville, 28th Illinois Infantry, 34th Indiana Infantry, 77th Ohio, 35th Wisconsin, 7th Vermont, 9th, 19th, and 114th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiments; at Columbus, 34th Illinois; at Victoria, 38th Illinois; at San Antonio, 3d and 4th Michigan Infantry, 4th U.S. Cavalry, and 3d Michigan and 18th New York Cavalry Regiments; at Houston, 48th Ohio Infantry and 12th Illinois Cavalry; at Matagorda, 7th U.S. Colored Infantry; at Brazos Santiago, 36th Colored Infantry and 1st Company Pontoniers; at White Rancha, 38th Colored Infantry; at Fort McIntosh, 62d Colored Infantry; at Roma, 116th Colored; at Ringgold Barracks, 117th Colored; at Austin, 6th U.S. Cavalry; at Hemstead, 1st Iowa Cavalry and 7th Indiana Cavalry. The following companies of artilllery are in the District of the Rio Grande: Batteries I and K 1st U.S. Artillery, and Battery B 2d U.S. Colored (Heavy) Artillery. Orders have been received for the mustering out of a large portion of this force.
Ben C. TRUMAN.
[New York Times 21 June 1866, page 5]
Arrival of Gen Sheridan at Galveston--The Freedmen's Celebration of Emancipation.
GALVESTON, TEXAS, Tuesday, June 18.
Gen. SHERIDAN and a portion of his Staff arrived yesterday, en route from Brazos for New-Orleans. He expressed satisfaction at the quiet state of affairs along the Rio Grande. Gen. GREGORY having finished his inspection of the State, left, in company with Gen. SHERIDAN, en route for New-Orleans.
Gen. KIDDER, in a new order to Assistant Commissioners, urges them to greater exertion to save, and if possible, increase, the cotton crop.
The freedmen celebration of emancipation, at Houston, passed off quietly. Gen. FULLERTON has not yet arrived.
[New York Times 29 July 1866, page 2]
GEN. STEEDMAN'S TOUR.
Gen. Kiddoo and Gen. Gregory--A Black Spot--A Perfidious Agent--Compounding a Felony--The Freedmen--Northerners and Southerners Maltreating Them--Political Affairs--The Late Campaign.
From Our Own Correspondent.
HOUSTON, Texas, Thursday, July 12, 1866.
As I have already informed you, Gens. STEEDMAN and FULLERTON, in executing their mission of inspecting the Freedmen's Bureau, left New-Orleans for Texas, intending to look into affairs here before commencing in Louisiana. Thus far they have visited Galveston, Richmond, Houston, and the richest sugar and cotton sections of the State. It is only necessary to repeat the letters that I have written from other States in order to give you the result of their observations here. Where good officers have had charge of Bureau affairs, matters have progressed satisfactorily. Gen. KIDDOO, the present Assistant Commissioner for the State, has had charge but a short time, during which he has made marked improvement--on the principle, I suppose, that a new broom sweeps clean. Of Gen. GREGORY's administration, however, I am sorry to say that investigation reveals some dark spots. He is evidently a bitter and implacable radical, and, withal, inconsistent in his radicalism, as he at times denounced every man in the State as disloyal; but notwithstanding that, appointed one Col. McCONAGHEE, fresh from the rebel army, previous to his pardon, as Sub-Assistant Commissioner for a county or district adjoining Houston. Evidence of arbitrary and oppressive decisions has been elicited, which were made by Gen. GREGORY, and which will soon be made public.
Every State has its black spot in Bureau operations, and Richmond is probably entitled to that doubtful credit in Texas. A Capt. SLOAN has been located there for some time past, and in his administration has been guilty of not a few midemeanors, if not downright crimes. He is from Missouri, in the service, but is a Kentuckian by birth, and entertains political opinions of the most radical character. It seems that he is engaged in planting, or rather that he was previous to the publication of the Steedman-Fullerton report for North Carolina, as he indirectly disposed of his interest about that time, and now an Ex-Capt. PORTER, SLOAN'S clerk, figures as the preeminent personage on the plantation. Capt. MITCHELL, an ex-Confederate, I believe, is the partner of SLOAN or PORTER, and superintends affairs. Sworn testimony that SLOAN had on different occasions used the influence of his position as Bureau officer to procure labor was elicited during our stay in Richmond, and that he had also annulled contracts between planters and freedmen, in order to hire the latter to work for him. Freedmen who were dissatisfied with their employers frequently applied to him to rectify their grievances, which he would do by sending them on to his place and putting them at work there. One colored boy who had been apprenticed to a planter, was enticed away from his master by SLOAN, but subsequently returned of his own accord. He also compelled freedmen to enter into contracts with him, and like other officers engaged in planting, used force to compel them to live up to their agreements. He admitted himself that he had imprisoned them for breaches of contract, and administered other unusual punishments--such as are generally inflicted on criminals alone--for similar offences. The evidence obtained, of which I have given you but a small portion, was not confined to citizens alone, as many important features were sworn to by Maj. PIERSON, Seventeenth Infantry, and Surgeon BOYD of the same regiment, to whom SLOAN had made admissions in conversation that he expected to realize largely from his planting--how many thousands of dollars I do not recollect.
A planter named RANSOM testified that he compromised a suit before SLOAN by paying a friend of the latter $50, and giving SLOAN himself $70. RANSOM had cut a colored boy very seriously in the head with a jack-knife, and committed what was evidently an assault and battery with intent to kill. SLOAN'S friend told RANSOM that he "could get him out of the scrape," and would not charge him anything; but as he would have some "presents to make to work the thing," he would be obliged to ask him for "half a century," which RANSOM gave him. On appearing before SLOAN, RANSOM had no trial, but was fined $50 in specie, which he paid in greenbacks at 50 per cent. premium. The record of the case in Capt. SLOAN'S office reads: "Final $50 and necessary Surgeon's expenses." It will be seen at a glance that there is ground for suspicion as to the disposition of $25 of the amount paid, as the record does not specify whether it was paid in specie or currency.
Other agents of the Bureau in different parts of the State are also engaged in planting, but the case just recited is the most glaring instance of malfeasance yet discovered. The report of the Commissioners for Texas will abound in interesting disclosures, and will probably be made up and forwarded on our return to New-Orleans.
I would be doing injustice to myself if I failed to give the post garrison at Richmond a notice, which is their due. It is a detachment of the Seventeenth Infantry, and is composed of low Germans and Irish, who, while they may be good soldiers in the field, betray a lack of discipline in their present position. They are, to use their own expression, "down on the niggers," and lose no opportunity to prove that fact. While I was there I saw one of them cane a small colored boy, and take a walking-stick away from another one of larger growth. In the first instance an arrest was made by the patrol, but immediate release of the prisoner followed, because his comrades crowded around the guard with statements that he was innocent of any assault. The citizens and freedmen unite in complaining of bad treatment of the latter by the soldiers, and I was informed that a serious riot was threatened a day or so before our arrival, growing out of a drunken spree of the soldiers, during which they attacked and beat every colored individual that they met in the streets.
It is a strange fact, that many Northerners who are here temporarily are guilty of abusing freedmen, and setting examples readily followed by a certain class of the residents, of cruelty and oppression. On the cars, between Galveston and Harrison Junction, the other day, a Northerner named SCOTT, claiming to be Lieutenant-Colonel of the Eighth Infantry, but who, I understand, is a dismissed officer of that regiment, undertook to drive all the colored passengers out of the car allotted to them, using his assumed authority as an army officer for that purpose, and reinforcing it by drawing a pistol from his pocket and pointing it at the head of one of them. Quite a scene of confusion followed, which was only quieted by the appearance of the conductor, who threatened to put the intruder off the train if he did not subside. He did so, taking a seat on the platform of the car in the rain, swearing that he would not "ride in the same car with a nigger." The rain overcame his prejudice, however, and I afterward saw him snoozing in a seat side by side with an Irish cow-herd who, apparently, had not changed his shirt or washed himself for months, to say the least.
The Gubernatorial election which has just passed here possessed some strange features as a political contest. THROCKMORTON, the successful candidate, was an original Union man, and, previous to the war, was a staunch friend of the great Texan, SAM HOUSTON--even up to the time when the latter was forcibly deposed from his office as GOVERNOR. During the progress of the rebellion he became a "true Southern man," and fought gallantly for the Confederacy. E. M. PEASE, his opponent, and formerly very popular as Governor of the State, was a Union man throughout the whole struggle, and I do not know that he was in a position to necessitate a pardon. As a large property owner, he paid taxes to the Confederate Government, but it is certain he did nothing to favor the rebellion, except when forced to it. On the stump THROCKMORTON announced himself as an ANDY JOHNSON man out and out, and frequently asked PEASE as to his opinions on that subject. PEASE replied, evasively, that he could see but little difference between the President and Congress, and thought there was not sufficient reason for any rupture between them. PEASE has, I am informed, carried only one county, and altogether, probably, received ten thousand votes. Of this number not more than twenty-five per cent. are radical, as many voters cast their ballot for him on account of his personal popularity and influence, which is very great. THROCKMORTON received the votes of the majority of the ex-rebel soldiers, and all of the class called "true Southern men," which, of course, included a majority of the supporters of the President's policy. Nevertheless, many JOHNSON men voted for PEASE, and that fact demonstrates the weakness of the radical party in the State. The radicals here and in the North claim the ten thousand peace voters as supporters of their principles, and, in the next breath, with astonishing inconsistency, tell you that there "are not twenty-five loyal men in Texas." (I believe Provisional Gov. JACK HAMILTON originated the phrase which I have quoted.) The fact of the matter is that PEASE was"on the fence," preparing to fall where the grass was highest and softest, and a clique of recent comers, conspiring with a few old residents, took advantage of his indecision to make capital for themselves and their party of extremists.E.P.B.
[New York Times 29 July 1866]
A Cowardly Officer--Gen. Gregory's Administration--Gen. Kiddoo--The Freedmen--The Whites' Political Sentiment--"Keno."
GULF OF MEXICO, Thursday, July 19, 1866.
The investigation of the operations of the Freedmen's Bureau in Texas by Gens. STEEDMAN and FULLERTON is completed, and they are now on their return to New-Orleans. As I mentioned in a previous letter from Houston, Gen. KIDDOO, the new Commissioner, has made many improvements since his arrival in the manner of conducting affairs; but he has a hard task before him in clearing away quite a number of worthless and dishonest agents. Gen. GREGORY, his predecessor, undoubtedly a pure and honest man, though a Radical of the deepest dye, was exceedingly unfortunate in the choice of some of his subordinates, as recent developments have shown that a portion of them have been engaged in planting, and have also been guilty of malfeasance in office. The natural sequence of planting by Bureau Agents, as evidenced in North Carolina, followed in Texas. They have abused the freedmen and compelled them to work at low rates of wages, and have done other things equally dicreditable, influenced by their personal pecuniary interest. Where the Agents have acted honorably the freedmen are working much better than even their most sanguine friends anticipated. I have heard hundreds of planters express this opinion, and also the belief that, with the exception of vicinities where there have been some local drawbacks, the crop in the State will be excellent. Free colored labor has in many portions of this State had a fair trial this year, and, so far as I am able to judge, considering the state of the crops, I do not hesitate to say that it has proved a success.
The most palpable error of Gen. GREGORY'S administration was the employment of citizen agents, and Gen. KIDDER has already applied for a large detail of officers to take their places. When Gen. GREGORY took charge of the State, probably being actuated by a desire to interest the citizens themselves in the success of the Bureau, he appointed quite a number of them as superintendents. Of this number a large majority were planters, and although they were generally upright and honest gentlemen, a few of them have been guilt of oppressing the freedmen and using the authority of their appointments for the aggrandizement of themselves and their neighbors. The theory was excellent, but a practical application has demonstrated the fact, that the practice is a failure and militates greatly to the detriment of the freedmen. The temptation to take advantage of their power, for pecuniary advancement, has been too great, in many instances, and consequently the citizen agents are responsible for much of the disquiet that now prevails in the State.
Capt. SLOAN, whose case I gave in detail in a previous letter, and a few of the citizen agents, are probably the only Superintendents in Texas who have been guilty of misdemeanors; but there are others who have not done their duty. Among the latter class is Lieut. C. C. ARENBOOK, the agent at Beaumont, who allowed himself to be frightened away from his post of duty by puerile threats of assassination. He skedaddled to Houston, leaving behind him, at Beaumont, a lady teacher of freedmen, who kept her school open and taught her scholars as usual, with the exception that she had a pistol on her table, side by side with her ruler. ARENBOOK undoubtedly received several intimations from the freedmen that the whites had threatened his life, but after he had made his fears public, the citizens called a meeting, at which they passed resolutions announcing their determination to support and protect him as an officer of the Government, and declaring it to be their duty to do so. They asked him in the meeting to give them the names of the persons who had threatened him, but he refused to do so, stating that the place and time were not proper for such a disclosure. In his statements to the Commissioners ARENBOOK committed himself to gross inconsistencies. At first he stated unqualifiedly that there was not a loyal man in his district, and subsequently said that he organized the "Union men and freedmen" for the purpose of protecting his precious life. I find that the theory so generally accepted by the Radicals regarding the disloyalty of the South is merely a theory, for there are thousands of exceptions even when we take their standard of loyalty as a criterion.
Close observation leads me to the conviction that the freedmen are, as a general rule, well treated in Texas, and that they are allowed more social privileges here than in any other portion of the South. The testimony of Bureau agents, freedmen, and citizens, wherever we have been, substantiate this conviction, and it appears that bad treatment of freedmen is the exception. Some of the planters here already begin to appreciate the fact that the manner in which they treat the freedmen now will exert a great influence on their success in making contracts next year. I have heard quite a number admit that labor in South would soon command capital to a certain extent, and one gentleman at Richmond told me that he was willing to sacrifice his crop this year in order to obtain the good will and confidence of his employers [sic]. Thus it is, that the great labor question is settling itself in the South, and the force of circumstances gives us a guarantee of future safety to the freedmen. It will not be long before white men, prompted by selfish interest, will come boldly forth here as the champions of the colored man and battle for their civil rights at last, and those who do will be the most successful at planting, herding, or any other branch of business in which they employ freedmen.
The contract system, to which I have referred in previous letters, has not obtained generally in Texas; but where it has, the result has been pernicious. A majority of the freedmen, I think, are working as day laborers. The herders, or cow-boys, who herd the immense droves of cattle on the prairies, are often employed by the day, or week, or month, and the most of them are freedmen. At the commencement of the year, the freedmen were anxious in some sections to contract at $10 and $15 per month in greenbacks; but as the planting seasons grew apace, the demand for labor increased, and they are now sought for at higher rates in specie. These facts are full of significance.
The people of Texas are a strange mixture of every nationality, shade and color. As a new State, with attractions unequaled by any other in the Union, it has drawn for its population from every section of our own and other countries. As a natural sequence of this conglomeration, the inhabitants are bright and intelligent, more so than those of any other Southern State. In early times poor men came here and located Government lands, on which they raised during the first year a bale of cotton or such a matter with their own hands. With this they bought a slave, and each succeeding year increasing the amount of cotton raised, they purchased more slaves, and finally more land. In this manner a majority of the immense cotton plantations of the State had their origin.
The extent of its boundary and the sparseness of its inhabitants make Texas, unfortunately, a safe refuge for refugees from justice, and in earlier times its people were mostly composed of that class. The war, however, has weeded many of them out, although not a few disreputable and irresponsible characters yet remain to disturb the public peace and cast disgrace on the reputation of the majority, who are undoubtedly law-abiding men. The number of this law-breaking minority is not small by any means, and they have supreme and undoubted control in many localities. Robberies and murders are of frequent occurrence in the interior, and the presence of troops is absolutely necessary to protect the crops, freedman and planters.
As the railroads, telegraphs and other improvements progress evidences of frontier vagabondism disappear, and although a few land-marks yet remain to indicate the comparative newness of the country, Houston, Galveston, and other cities are thriving and flourishing as only Western cities do, with good hotels, gas, and other concomitants of civilization.
To one who sees them for the first time, the prairies of Texas present a remarkable appearance. Stretching away for miles on each side of the railroad track, you look from the car window out on to an unbroken level of green grass, clear round the whole horizon, dotted here and there with innumerable herds of cattle, asses, jennies, horses, wild and tame, and even deer, and an occasional small clump of trees. I have seen the prairies of Illinois and the Great West, but but [sic] I failed to appreciate the full significance of the word, until jolting through Texas at the rate of seven miles an hour and five cents a mile in specie, I saw them in their fullest magnificence. They seem almost boundless in extent and fertility. The land in Texas is not, however, as many suppose, confined to prairie, but includes many large and valuable tracts of timber, which skirt the banks of the numerous rivers of the State, appearing in the landscape with an almost artistic effect. Hills there are too, of no mean altitude, up which travelers in stage-coaches are oftentime obliged to walk in scorching sun when the horses give out.
WIth all this great free prairie about them it is no wonder that the permanent residents of Texas are naturally honest and outspoken in their sentiments. In Texas, for the first time during all of my experience in the South since the surrenders, I heard apparently intelligent and influential men express hopes of a renewal of the late war. They were bitter in the extreme, and did not hesitate to conceal it, but without ostentation or boasting, bluntly told any one that asked them that they hated the United States and were true rebels still. Of course this class comprise but a few of the majority of the inhabitants, and probably only those who feel themselves personally aggrieved at the continuance of military rule in the State. Although the majority of the people did not feel the war to know its horrors, and only knew of its reality, and the devastation which followed in the track of armies from the experience of others, they are not anxious to fight again, and it would require great exertion to reenlist them as soliders. Nevertheless, in my opinion, it would be easier to raise another rebellion in Texas than in any other State in the South. Confederate men and things are held in higher reverence there than in any other place I have yet found, except with a small clique of hot-headed fools in Richmond. Unlike the cowardly and covert adoration of the Richmondites, however, the Texans almost command as much respect for their openly avowed principles now as they did when gun and sword in hand they were fighting for their "lost cause". As an indication of public sentiment I find that the public gatherings are, of course, the best criterion, and when the gatherings are of such a nature as to give opportunity for expression of sentiment, the fact becomes apparent that only a portion of the people are really and truly heart-sick or yet longing for their defeated usurpation. For instance, at a tournament held in Brenham, Texas, not long since, thirty-five knights entered the lists, all young men, bearing fanciful titles, such as "The Knight of the Empty Pocket," etc. The "Furled Banner," "Forlorn Hope," and other significant titles were almost entirely discarded, although the opportunity to express sympathy for the rebellion was excellent. Another indication of good feeling is found in the fact that the Fourth of July received unusual attention throughout the whole State.
Another result of the comparatively new condition of the country is the prevalance of gaming. In Houston, one of the most thriving and active inland cities of the South, placards stare you in the face on the street-corners, announcing that a game of "Keno" is opened at a particular place every night, with free supper accompaniments. Prompted by curiosity I looked into the room one night and found it filled with booted and spurred Texans and strangers, seated around a dozen tables, which were each about twelve feet long, playing at something very like the child's game of lotto. The presiding dignitary seated on an elevation at the end of the room, announced the number of each ball as he drew it out of the case, whereupon the players marked it on their cards with a button. It was a rare sight to see at least a hundred men bent over the tables, some breathlessly waiting the call, and others swearing at their bad luck, while occasionally one of them would jump up and cry "Keno" when he had won, at the very top of his voice. The crowd of players was apparently mixed and seemed to include men of every grade of society.
Specie is the prevailing medium of trade in Texas, although in Galveston greenbacks are as good as anywhere else, while gold is several per cent cheaper than in New-York. In Houston and Richmond greenbacks are almost worthless, and would be entirely so if the tax commissioners did not take them for taxes. Prices, however, are not as cheap as they are in greenback-taking sections.
A heavy storm has prevailed on the lower coast of the Gulf, particularly in the vicinity of Indianola and Brazos Santiago, during the past week, involving the loss of many lives and quite a number of vessels. Particulars are not obtainable at present. E.P.B.
[New York Times 10 August 1866]
[NB: I have not transcribed the entire report]
THE SOUTHERN INVESTIGATION
Generals Steedman and Fullerton's Final Report.
Explorations Through the Gulf States.
Heavy Cost and Useless Work of the Freedmen's Bureau.
Malfeasance and Misconduct of its Officers
Establishment by the Bureau of a New System of Slavery.
The Freedmen Swindled by Their "Friends."
Black Men Sold by the Bureau for Ten Dollars a Month.
Anti-Bureau Negroes Get Forty Dollars a Month.
The Whole Bureau Establishment Denounced.
Summary of Conclusions on the Whole Investigation.
NEW-ORLEANS, La., July 20, 1866.
Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War:
SIR: We have the honor to submit the following report of our inspection of the operations of the Freedmen's Bureau in the Departments of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Taking up seriatim the points to which special attention is called in our order of instructions, we found, first, that the number of officers and civilians employed by or attached to the Bureau in the Departments above-named, were as follows:
. . .
One Brigadier-General, Assistant Commissioner for the State.
One Lieutenant-Colonel, two Majors, one Captain, one Lieutenant--staff duty.
Two Colonels, one Major, ten Captains, four First Lieutenants, three Second Lieutenants, sub-Assistant Commissioners.
One contract Surgeon, at pay per month . . . $100 00
One Superintendent of Schools, at pay per month . 208 83
Two clerks, each at pay per month . . . . . 125 00
Three clerks, each at pay per month . . . 75 00
One printer, at pay per month .. . 125 00
The number of persons to whom rations have been issued in each of the above-mentioned States since the 1st of December, 1865, and up to the 1st of April last, were as follows:
|. . .|
The necessity for the relief furnished will not extend beyond the present season, except in Northern Georgia and Alabama, where probably a limited amount of assistance may be requisite for some time longer, unless these States are able to make provision for their own poor. Much, however, depends in all of the States herein mentioned upon the success of this year's provision crop.DISPOSITION OF THE CITIZENS.
But little or no encouragement has been given to the operations of the Bureau by the citizens of any of these States, except Alabama and Georgia, in which the Assistant Commissioners, Gens. TILLSON and SWAYNE, have removed much of the prejudice against the Bureau by wisely securing the coöperation of the civil authorities.RETRENCHMENT AND REFORM.
A great reduction in the expenses of the Bureau, and a reform which would render it far less objectionable than it is now, would be effected by the discontinuance of all paid employes [sic] not in the military service of the Government. This would reduce the expenses for clerks, contract surgeons, hospital stewards, &c., the following amounts:
|Georgia||$34,584 per annum|
|Alabama||33,312 per annum|
|Mississippi||30,276 per annum|
|Louisiana||55,984 per annum|
|Texas||10,896 per annum|
|Total||$165,052 per annum|
All the labor performed by these employes [sic], except perhaps the occasional services of a contract surgeon, might be discharged by details from the troops. In previous reports we have recommended the merging of the duties of the Bureau and the military. We would again respectfully urge this amalgamation, and that one set of officers should be required to perform the joint duties, thus avoiding the expense of maintaining two establishments.EFFECTS OF THE BUREAU UPON THE HABITS OF THE FREEDMEN
We have previously stated our opinion as to the effect of the operation of the Bureau upon the habits of the freedmen, and their disposition to labor and support themselves, and we have seen nothing in our subsequent investigations to induce us to change the views expressed on the subject in past reports. It is so apparent that a people compelled to labor for a livelihood must be industrious by the hope or implied promise of support in idleness, that we deem it unnecessary to present further argument on this point [sic].
We proceed now to speak more in detail of the administration of the Bureau in the several States we have visited.
. . . . .
The facilities for traveling in Texas being so limited, and the State so large, we found it impossible to make such an investigation as would enable us to report fully upon the condition of affairs in that department. The headquarters of the Bureau are located at Galveston, and a few agents are stationed in the most accessible and populous parts of the State. As to the condition of affairs in the interior, we were unable to obtain accurate information, either from the agents of the Bureau or from any other sources. We visited Richmond and Houston, where we met several of the agents from other districts, who were there in attendance on a court-martial.
At Richmond, Capt. SLOAN, the Agent of the Bureau, is engaged in planting, in connection with his former clerk, Capt. PORTER, and an ex-officer of the rebel army, Capt. MITCHELL. Capt. SLOAN denied, under oath, that he was or ever had been interested in the plantation of Messrs. PORTER & MITCHELL, but Major PEARSON, commandant of the troops at that post, and Dr. BOYD, Post Surgeon, both subsequently swore before us that Capt. SLOAN had told them repeatedly he was interested in the farm, and had mentioned to them the amount he expected to realize by it. Complaints were made to us by other persons that Capt. SLOAN had employed the power of the Bureau to take negroes from their plantations and place them on his own. We append the testimony taken in this case, marked "C."
Among the agents we met at Houston was Lieut. C. F. HARDENBROOK,First V.R.C., agent at Beaumont, Jefferson County, who stated to us that the freedmen were doing well in his district, and that the disposition of the people was very fair. Most of the freedmen were engaged in herding stock, and were paid from $10 to $15 a month in coin. He subsequently mentioned that he had recently arrested Dr. HOUSTON, a citizen in his district, on the report of a freedman that the Doctor had said he did not regard his parole; but finding it was impossible to obtain evidence against his prisoner, he had been obliged to release him. This officer reported to us other actions of his own equally absurd as this, satisfying us he was utterly incompetent for his position.
Having heard unfavorable reports from the Brenham District, we examined the agent, Capt. S. A. CRAIG, Seventeenth Veteran Reserve Corps, whom we also met at Houston. He stated that his predecessor, Lieut. ARNOLD, of the Twelfth Illinois Cavalry, had kept no records, and had left nothing in the office but a list of contracts and a file of orders, and he could give us no information of his official acts. We are satisfied that most of the complaints made against Capt. CRAIG are groundless.
All the Bureau agents in Texas exercise judicial powers in both civil and criminal cases, and in the discharge of these arbitrary and dangerous functions frequently arrest and imprison respectable citizens upon mere rumor. Capt. SLOAN, the Bureau officer at Richmond, before alluded to, while at Galveston, out of his district, arrested a respectable citizen and put him in prison, on the plea that he wanted him as a witness in a case which he only knew from rumor would be brought before him.
Ten of the thirty-five agents in this State are citizen planters. One of them, Col. McCONNAGHEE, agent in Thornton County, was formerly a Colonel in the rebel army, and was appointed an agent of the Bureau by Gen. GREGORY, then Assistant Commissioner of the State, while still unpardoned.
We heard many rumors with respect to Gen. GREGORY himself being engaged in planting, but on investigation we concluded that these statements were unfounded. While we believe Gen. GREGORY to have been honest in his administration, we think his extreme views and policy produced ill-feeling and bitterness between the whites and blacks.
So far as we saw or were able to get information in Texas, the freedmen were working well and the crops were very promising. The wages paid--all the payments being made in specie--were better than in any other department.
Brevet Major-Gen. J. B. KIDDOO is the present Assistant Commissioner for Texas.
In pursuing this investigation, which has now extended over four months, we have found extreme difficulty in complying with that portion of our instructions which requires us to report upon the operations of the Bureau and its mode of administration. The Bureau has no settled mode of administration. There is an entire absence of system or uniformity in its constitution. In one State its officers exercise judicial powers; in an adjoining State all cases are referred to the civil authorities; while in a third State the Bureau officers collect the cases and turn them over to the military provost courts to dispose of. In some departments the officers of the Bureau have attempted to regulate the rate of wages; one form of contract between employer and employed is prescribed in one State, while in another a different form is adopted. In Louisiana the expenses of the freedmen's schools have been wholly paid by the Government; in the other States the schools are partially self-supporting, and in Texas they are entirely so. In some localities the Bureau officers interfere arbitrarily between the planter and the freedmen in favor of the freedmen; in other localities the Bureau is used as a means of coercing the freedmen in favor of the planter. The expenditure of the Bureau varies as much as its mode of administration. In one State the expenses are over three hundred thousand dollars a year; in another State, with an equal population, the expenses are not more than fifty thousand. In some States the expenses have been met by taxes levied on and collected from people; in other States the cost is entirely borne by the United States Treasury.
We found it impossible to investigate the accounts of the Bureau Quartermasters, for the reason that when the funds were received from taxes, rents, fines, and sale of abandoned property, there were no means of ascertaining the amounts received, except from the personal statement of the officers themselves. A Quartermaster in the army, drawing his funds from the government, has the amount charged up to him, and is obliged to account for it in return; but the looseness of the administration of the Quartermaster's Department of the Bureau, and the absence of all check upon the officers, give no security except the personal honesty of the men themselves. We examined the accounts of Brevet Brig.-Gen. WHITTLESEY, Bureau Quartermaster of the Department of the Mississippi, who satisfied us that he had honestly administered the affairs of his department, and had accounted for all money received by him, but whether his predecessor, who collected a large amount from taxes, rents and sales, paid over to Gen. WHITTLESEY all the money in his hands belonging to the Bureau, we were unable to determine. We do not make this statement to reflect upon that officer, against whom there were no charges, but to illustrate the looseness of the system.
The official report of Col. RENO, United States Army, Provost-Marshal-General of the Bureau for Louisiana--a copy of which is herewith forwarded, marked "D"--shows a deficit of upward of $7,000 in the accounts of the officers who were engaged in the collecting of taxes in New-Orleans, which deficit Col. RENO says he is unable to explain in consequence of the loose manner in which the books were kept. One of the defaulting officers, Lieut. FOSTER, who, Col. RENO believes, appropriated to his own use the largest amount of the deficiency, carried off his cash book with him. This officer, on his own responsibility, levied an "incidental tax," which Col. RENO calls "an invention of his own," and which, "with the exception of one or two hundred dollars went into his own pocket."
We are of the opinion that at the close of the war, and for some time after the cessation of hostilities, the Freedmen's Bureau did good. The people of the South, having at first no faith in the negroes working under a free labor system, were desirous of getting rid of them, and during the summer of 1865 judicious Bureau and military officers did much toward restoring order and harmony, and inducing the people of the South to resume the cultivation of their plantations by employing the freedmen. Before the close of 1865 there was an entire revolution in the sentiments of the people of the South with regard to negro labor. A feeling of kindness sprang up towards the freedman, resulting, perhaps, mainly from the conviction that his labor was desirable and profitable, and the only labor to be had. The necessity of the Bureau then ceased. Since then, while it has been beneficial in some localities, it has been productive, in the aggregate, of more harm than good. It has occasioned and will perpetuate discord as long as it exists, though administered by the purest and wisest men of the nation. The freedmen regard its presence as evidence that they would be unsafe without it, and the white people consider it an imputation upon their integrity and fairness; an espionage upon the official action of all their Courts and magistrates, as well as upon the private conduct of their citizens. Both races are thus made suspicious and bitter by an agency which, in the present reorganized condition of civil government and society in the Southern States, is powerless to advance the interests of either.
The best protection the freedman has in the South is the value of his labor in the market, and if he is left free to dispose of this, at all times, to the highest bidder, unshackled by contracts made for him by Bureau officers, no apprehensions need be felt for his safety or his success. If the freedmen could at this moment demand the wages which the high price of the products of the South would justify, one dollar per day and board would be the ruling wages, instead of ten or twelve dollars per month, the prices now paid. But they cannot take advantage of the demand for their labor; they are bound by contracts, enslaved for twelve months, through the agency and influence of the Freedmen's Bureau. The hands on the Mississippi River steamboats were not required to make contracts, and they are getting forty dollars per month and their board for labor less exacting than that of a plantation negro. The freedmen on the Ogceche and Savannah rivers are getting, on the rice plantations, from ten to fifteen dollars per month, under contract for the year, while the laborers employed on the Georgia Central Railroad, which runs between these streams, are getting $1 50 a day. Some complaints were made to us by the planters on the Savannah River that their laborers were discontented, and did not work as required by their contracts. One of the planters, a practical, liberal-minded man, explained the cause of discontent to be the low wages at which the negroes were hired. He said, "I can get hands enough, and good work done, too, by paying $1 a day and rations, and I am paying that, and expect to pay even more. I can give $3 a day and make money. The negro is going to make all he can out of his freedom, and he has a right to do so." The enlightened policy advocated by this gentleman--a policy strongly in accordance with justice and sound political economy--is defeated by the contract system inaugurated and forced into practical operation by the officers of the Freedmen's Bureau. We met with instances of freedmen working for $10 a month and rations, under yearly contracts sanctioned by the Bureau, while in the same field doing the same work, other freemen [sic] not under contracts were getting $1 a day and rations. In all the large towns of the Mississippi Valley, during the months of May and June, planters were offering $1 a day and rations for freedmen, while under the sanction of the Government, given by the officers and agents of the Bureau, thousands of freedmen were working under contract for $10 per month. If the freedmen are left free to contract, the demand for their labor and competition among employers will secure them good wages and kind treatment. They will not contract with men who treat them harshly or fail to pay them, as is abundantly proven by the fact that many planters who treated their former slaves cruelly are now unable to hire freedmen to work for them, and have been obliged to sell or lease their plantations.
We are unable to discover why the simple rules which regulate and control the relations of labor and capital in the Northern States should not obtain as well in the South; why the National Government should permit the laboring man to sell his labor to the highest bidder in one section of the country and appoint an agent to sell it for him in another section. It is undoubtedly true that if the freed people of the South were not bound by contracts their wages would be at least fifty per cent. higher at this time than they are, and there would be less discontent among the freedmen than now exists, and far less duty for the agents to perform. Almost the only dissatisfaction existing at this time among the freedmen results from the low rate of wages at which they have been hired under the influence and with the approval of the agents of the Bureau. This discontent makes the freedmen unwilling to work, and their indolence provokes the planter, who not unfrequently resorts to violence to inforce his contract, and this makes business for the officer who sactioned [sic] the contract. Investigation follows, resulting generally in finding the freedmen at fault for refusing to labor according to their contracts, and they are required to return to the plantation, while the planter is admonished to curb his temper. In some cases of this nature the contract is declared forfeited by the conduct of the planter, who goes away from the Bureau feeling that a decision has been made that the freedmen are not bound to fulfil their agreements. The fault--the cause of the difficulty--is in the contract, which has been unjustly forced upon the poor freedmen. It must not be inferred from what we have written that we are opposed to the freedmen contracting with the planters. By no means. We believe the very best thing they can do is to make contracts, either for a share of the crops or liberal wages, but we are opposed to agents of the National Government assuming to hire them out, prescribing the terms of service, and speculating for the wages to be paid them. They are not free so long as any such control is exercised over them, nor can they ever receive just reward for their labor while they are compelled to hire within a given time for a specified term. In Mississippi and other States, freedmen were compelled, by orders from the officers of the Bureau, to enter into contracts within limited periods, which enabled all who wanted hands to get them at low wages, while, if the freedmen had not been interfered with, the demand for labor would have enabled them to secure just remuneration. It is a great error to suppose that the freedmen are not compelled [sic; perhaps 'competent'?] to enter into contracts for themselves. They are sharp at a bargain, know well what a good contract is, and are much better collectors than white people.
As an evidence of the rigid manner in which contracts are enforced by agents of the Bureau against the freedmen, we may mention a case which came under our own observation. A colored blacksmith, who fled from his master during the war, and enlisted in the United States army, being absent to be mustered out of service, wrote to his wife requesting her not to contract for more than a month or two at a time, as he intended to return home as soon as he was mustered out and set up shop and go to housekeeping. His wife accordingly declined at first to make a long contract, but was finally compelled to engage herself for a year. The soldier on his return went to the plantation where his wife was working and applied for her release, but failed to get her. He then sent a written statement of the case to an agent of the Bureau, who forwarded it to the Assistant Commissioner for the State. It was returned from headquarters with the following indorsement:
"Inasmuch as the wife of WILLIAM CARTER has made a contract for the year 1866, she must observe its requirements. The sub-commissioner will inform WILLIAM CARTER that the interests of the freed-people religiously observing their agreements are paramount to the wishes of individuals, and that the power of the Bureau will only be used to protect them from manifest injustice. There being no positive evidence of such injustice in this case, the Bureau has no interference to make."
It is evident that this officer considers a labor contract more sacred than a marriage contract.
The system of contracts now existing in the South and enforced by the Bureau is simply slavery in a new form. What is the difference to the negro whether he is sold for $5 or $5,000 for thirty years to thirty masters, or for thirty years to one master? It is involuntary servitude in either case, and a practical defeat of the Emancipation Proclamation of the lamented President LINCOLN. If the freedman leaves work to seek employment at better wages, he is arrested as a vagrant by order of the Freedmen's Bureau, and put to labor on the roads with ball and chain, as is provided by an order recently issued by Gen. SCOTT, Assistant Commissioner for South Carolina. If, fatigued from overwork, he desires to rest for a day, if he leaves the plantation to visit a relative or friend, it is made a penal offence, and a fine of $50 is imposed, as will be seen by circular No. 14, of Gen. KIDDOO, Assistant Commissioner for Texas, a copy of which is hereto annexed, marked "E." If he refuses to contract at all, he is arrested by the Bureau Provost Marshal and sold for a few dollars to the nearest planter, as in the case of Capt. MORSE, of New-Orleans, already referred to. The coercive policy adopted by the Bureau in this and other respects has been made a justification for the discriminating legislation of some of the Southern States. The only remedy against a white man for a breach of contract is a suit for damages, and we can see no reason why the same remedy should not be applied and conceded in the case of the black man. The freedman has nothing to sell but his labor, and we are strongly of opinion that he ought to be permitted to obtain for it the highest price it will bring. If he is a freeman it is neither just nor lawful for any person to assume control of him, and certainly not more just or lawful for an officer of the Freedman's Bureau to do so than for a Southern planter.
Very respectfully, your obedient servants,JAMES B. STEEDMAN, Major-General Vols.
J. S. FULLERTON, Brigadier-General Vols.
[New York Times 2 June 1870, page 1]
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PHILADELPHIA, June 1.--Gen. E. M. GREGORY offered a report of the Committee on Freedmen showing the total funds during the year to have been $52,907 22, the balance May 1, 1870, being $3,878 12. The statistics were listened to with interest. ....
[New York Times 12 October 1870, page 1]
[The text does not include a closing quotation mark, but the two paragraphs I have indented are in a smaller font in the original.]
THE OCTOBER ELECTIONS
Republican Successes and Gains in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Voting of the Colored Men and the Result.
Elections were held yesterday for members of the House of Representatives, Forty-third Congress, in Pennsylvania, and for State officers and Congressmen in Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, and Nebraska. The returns received up to 3 o'clock this morning from the two first States, though meagre--the telegraph working badly, owing to the storm of last night--indicate Republican successes. The voting was evidently light and attended by but little excitement. In Philadelphia there was much repeating, and some trouble in certain wards where the colored people, who voted for the first time, came into contact with the whites of the lower classes, but no serious disturbances occurred. Below are the details.PENNSYLVANIA.
Election Day in Philadelphia--Democratic Repeaters--Voting by the Colored People--Some Trouble, and Almost a Riot.
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 11.--The election has passed off without any serious difficulty, and with spirit, though not in all districts with such excitement as heretofore. In the centre of the city there has been nothing to remind one of the election, except the incessant tolling of the State House bell. The Telegraph of this evening say that, during the past two weeks, while the Democracy were paying no attention to mass-meetings, they were active in other ways, and the principal feature in which they have been engaged has been the manufacturing of votes. Hundreds of men have been brought from other cities and given a habituation which they have only known since the first days of the registry, and which they will never know after to-night. That hundreds of illegal votes have been polled no one will doubt. For many reasons the present political contest is of the most exciting character. Parties are mixed and confounded; tickets have been scored and split; men have been voting by judgment and conscience, not by partisanship. When the day declines and the fight is over, strange developments, unexpected returns, will startle many of the candidates and the citizens.VOTING BY THE COLORED PEOPLE.
The colored voters are exercising their privilege of voting for the first time. In some of the lower wards, where the colored vote is large, the colored voters were in line at the polls at 4 o'clock this morning. In several precincts the white and the colored voters formed in separate lines, but votes were taken alternately from each line. In the Fourth Ward a difficulty occurred between Alderman McMULLIN and a colored man in the line of voters. The latter struck McMULLIN for an alleged attempt to oust him from the line. He then ran, but was pursued, and finally gave himself up to the Police. In the Fifth Ward there was a great crowd, and the polls were obstructed. Finally the United States Marshal's officers interfered; but the delay already occasioned will prevent a full vote, as the voters in one precinct alone number 900. In anticipation of a serious riot, the United States marines have been brought up to the United States Marshal's office and posted so as to be available at short notice. The Evening Bulletin has the following regarding these new voters:
"The negroes vote at this election for the first time, and this completely changes the scenes at the polls. The colored men are pretty generally availing themselves of their rights, and in some divisions, at times during the morning, the line of voters was composed almost entirely of that class of citizens. At Fifth and Lombard streets the scene was quite animated. There the colored voters have great strength, and they turned out in force. About a dozen policemen were upon the ground. All were around with clubs, and they bullied everybody. One big, burly fellow, in full uniform, stood so close to the windows that voters had great difficulty in getting there. When a negro presented himself he had to fight his way to the window, and this Irish policeman seemed particularly anxious to see his ticket. When citizens attempted to remonstrate with these officers of the law, they were told, in a very rough manner, to move on, and during the morning several nicely-dressed and apparently intelligent colored men were dragged from the line and marched to the Central Station for daring to express an opnion of the actions of the policeman. Numerous complaints were made to Gen. E. M. GREGORY, United States Marshal, and he at once adopted measures to remedy the evils complained of. Chief MULHOLLAND sent for the Lieutenant of the District in order to have matters fixed up a little better. Between 11 and 12 o'clock Marshal GREGORY, Mayor FOX and Recorder GIVIN arrived on the ground. The situation at this time was rather bad. Scarcely any person had a chance to vote, and the Police made more noise and contributed more toward creating a disturbance than anyone else. Mayor Fox ordered his men away from the polls, and they retired in a very bad grace. Things began to look better, and the Mayor started for his office. As soon as his back was turned, however, the Police resumed their former positions, and if anything, made the situation worse than it had been before. The office of the Unitd States Marshal was run down with citizens, white and colored, who came to make complaint of how things were being done in this division, the third of the Fifth Ward. Gen. Gregory swore in some additional deputies, and sent them to the scene. In anticipation of trouble, he sent to the Navy-yard a request that the marines stationed there be held in readiness for service. He then went to Fifth and Lombard streets, to superintend affairs in that section.
ALMOST A RIOT
A detachment of marines, under command of Brevet Lieut.-Col. JAMES FORNEY, was marched to the office of the United States Marshal, to await his orders. In the meantime a large crowd had gathered at Fifth and Lombard streets, and the squabbles which occurred between the Policemen and the people were such as to almost entirely put an end to the voting. The Police, who now had their new clubs out for the first day this season, seemed particularly anxious to try them, and they struck at almost everybody who uttered a word. In three minutes we observed no less than six individuals whose heads had been cut by the policemen's clubs. One man got a stroke from four different clubs at the same time. The indications were that a serious riot would soon occur, and the marines were sent for. They marched down Fifth street, and were halted just below Pine street. This was about 1 o'clock. By this time there was a large crowd gathered along Fifth and Lombard streets. Things about the election window were getting worse every minute, and the big, burly policeman, mentioned above, was still edging the colored men out of line close to the window. The marines were then ordered to clear the street. Drums were beaten, the marines formed in line, and were marched down Fifth to Lombard, and up the latter street far enough to get the crowd away from the poll. The appearance of the marines called forth hearty cheers from the negroes, who had been brow-beaten by the policemen during the entire morning. After the sidewalk had been cleared, a line of marines was formed along the curbstone, and the outsiders were thus kept from interfering with the voters. This was the situation at 2 1/2 o'clock this afternoon. In the meantime, all the reserve policemen in the city had been ordered to report at the Central Station, and a little after 2 o'clock a squad of about thirty men, under Sergt. JONES, of the Eighth District, started for Fifth and Lombard Streets. What these men are to do we are unable to say and the Chief of Police did not seem to know what they had been sent there for. Some lively demonstrations may have taken place this afternoon. In the other portions of the Fourth and Fifth Wards the election has progressed quietly, and no difficulties have been thrown in the way of the colored men who desired to vote. The same may be said of all the wards in the upper part of the city.
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