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 With reference to the land in General Saxton's States, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, I will endeavor to explain the effect of the President's pardons upon my own actions, and the special tasks he assigned to me in connection with the abandoned and other real property. In fact, my own special efforts covered the land question for the southern coast. In order to establish a definite and uniform policy relative to confiscated and abandoned lands, as commissioner, I issued a circular (July 28th) quoting the law and limiting and regulating the return of the lands to former owners; I authorized assistant commissioners to restore any real property in their possession not abandoned; the cultivators were protected in the ownership of growing crops. on land to be restored, and careful descriptions were required of such land, and monthly records of amounts which remained in the possession of the Government. I further directed the assistant commissioners to select and set apart in orders, with as little delay as possible, as some had been already doing, such confiscated and abandoned property as they deemed necessary for the immediate use for the life and comfort of refugees and freedmen; and we also provided for rental or sale when that was possible. Surely the pardon of the President would not be interpreted to extend to the surrender of abandoned or confiscated property which in strict accordance with the law had been “set apart for refugees and freedmen” or was then in use for the employment and general welfare of all such persons within the lines of national military occupation in insurrectionary States. Did not the law apply to all formerly held as slaves, who had become or would become free? This
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