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[236] fair and right enough; but with masterly adroitness the President's draft had effectually defeated the intention of all that legislation which used the abandoned estates and the so-called confiscated property; that intention was to give to loyal refugees and freedmen allotments of and titles to land. In Virginia, a considerable amount had been libeled and was about to be sold, when Mr. Stanton considerately suspended the sales, that these lands might be turned over more directly to the Bureau for the benefit of the freedmen. I insisted that these lands, condemned for sale, though not actually sold, were already the property of the Government; therefore, I made objection to the President against the insertion of the word “sold” into the definition of confiscated property; but after reference to the attorney general, the President decided adversely to me and so the word “sold” was inserted in the definition that was published in the order. This was what caused the return to former owners of all property where sales had been suspended and never consummated. It was further strongly recommended by me to the President that all men of property to whom he was offering pardon should be conditioned to provide a small homestead or something equivalent to each head of family of his former slaves; but President Johnson was amused and gave no heed to this recommendation. My heart ached for our beneficiaries, but I became comparatively helpless to offer them any permanent possession.

When the former owner had not as yet been pardoned the burden was after this time put upon my officers to prove that property had ever been voluntarily abandoned by a disloyal owner. I soon saw that very little, if any, had been confiscated by formal

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Edwin M. Stanton (1)
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