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[214] if idle. But the enemies of free labor approved all my compulsory language.

The Bureau, standing between these two extremes as to the negro, entered upon its work naturally under the fire of hostile newspapers and some congressional criticism from both sides. Long before this period of experience I had learned that I could not suit everybody.

My own reason for introducing into the circular the paragraph relating to labor was that many thought the Bureau would “feed niggers in idleness,” as they expressed it, and I wished to start right. There was found in Mr. Stanton's basket evidence that the military authorities were then feeding immense groups of refugees and freedmen in Washington and vicinity as well as in the different parts of the South and West. The daily issue then amounted to upward of 144,000 rations. For the ensuing June, July, and August, the indigent groups, though constantly shifting ground, were, in the aggregate, somewhat increased. The number of persons relieved by our Bureau commissariat daily during August was 148,120. Without doubt many freedmen and poor whites, from the seeming helplessness of their condition, like pensioners, were, through this source, expecting a permanent support.

By September, 1865, when the Bureau had been sufficiently organized and at work so as to take entire charge of all gratuitous relief, by a rigid examination of every applicant, by the rejection of all who could support themselves by labor, and by the process of finding work for the willing, the number assisted was reduced to 74,951; and from that time on, there was a constant reduction.

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