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[208] that I wished time for reflection and consultation with my friends, he said: “Take the document and look it over and let me know as soon as you can whether or not you are willing to undertake the business.”

Naturally, as the great war drew to a close, I had been pondering the subject of my future work. Should I remain in the army or nott What as a young man of thirty-four had I better dot The opportunity afforded by this offer appeared to me at once to answer my anxious inquiries. Indeed it seemed providential; so in my consciousness my mind was virtually made up even before I left the War Office; my custom in war had never suffered me to hold decisions long in abeyance.

The morning of May 12th, I returned to Mr. Stanton and said: “I have concluded to accept the duty you offer me.” He briefly expressed his satisfaction and sent for the papers, chiefly letters from correspondents, widely separated, and reports, official and unofficial, touching upon matters which pertained to refugees and freedmen. The clerk in charge brought in a large, oblong, bushel basket heaped with letters and documents. Mr. Stanton, with both hands holding the handles at each end, took the basket and extended it to me and with a smile said: “Here, general, here's your Bureau!” He told me that I could use the officers of my Tennessee army for bureau assistants as far as I wished, or submit recommendations for any helpers. He further said that the house of a prominent senator, who had joined the Confederacy, situated at the northeast corner of Nineteenth and I Streets in Washington, was ready for my immediate use as an office.

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