court decision; so that wholesale pardons in a brief time completed the restoration of the remainder of our lands; all done for the advantage of the late Confederates and for the disadvantage and displacement of the freedmen. Very many had in good faith occupied and cultivated the farms guaranteed to them by the provision and promise of the United States. My heart was sad enough when by constraint I sent out that circular letter; it was chagrined when not a month later I received the following orders issued by President Johnson:
Whereas certain tracts of land, situated on the coast of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, at the time for the most part vacant, were set apart by Major General W. T. Sherman's special field order No. 15 for the benefit of refugees and freedmen that had been congregated by the operations of the war, or had been left to take care of themselves by their former owners; and whereas an expectation was thereby created that they would be able to retain possession of said lands; and whereas a large number of the former owners are earnestly soliciting the restoration of the same, and promising to absorb the labor and care for the freedmen: It is ordered: That Major General Howard, Commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, proceed to the several above-named States and endeavor to effect an agreement mutually satisfactory to the freedmen and the land owners, and make report. And in case a mutual satisfactory arrangement can be effected, he is duly empowered and directed to issue such orders as may become necessary, after a full and careful investigation of the interests of the parties concerned.Why did I not resign?