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[186] minor courts of any sort were established under them for hearing complaints of fraud or oppression, these officials reviewed the cases and their decisions were final. These were rather short steps in the path of progress! They were experiments.

From the time of the opening of New Orleans in 1862 till 1865, different systems of caring for the escaped slaves and their families were tried in the Southwest. Generals Butler and Banks, each in his turn sought to provide for the thousands of destitute freedmen in medicines, rations, and clothing. Colonies were soon formed and sent to abandoned plantations. A sort of general poor farm was established and called “the Home Colony.” Mr. Thomas W. Conway, when first put in charge of the whole region as “Superintendent of the Bureau of free labor,” tried to impress upon all freedmen who came under his charge in these home colonies that they must work as hard as if they were employed by contract on the plantation of a private citizen. His avowed object, and indeed that of every local superintendent, was to render the freedmen self-supporting. One bright freedman said: “I always kept master and me. Guess I can keep me.”

Two methods at first not much in advance of slavery were used: one was to force the laborers to toil; and the second, when wages were paid, to fix exact rates for them by orders. Each colony from the first had a superintendent, a physician, a clerk, and an instructor in farming. The primary and Sunday schools were not wanting, and churches were encouraged.

Early in 1863, General Lorenzo Thomas, the adjutant general of the army, was organizing colored troops along the Mississippi River. After consulting

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