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 crop; to let them stay at their present homes so long as the responsible freedmen among them would contract or lease; to take proper steps to make new contracts or leases, with the proviso that freedmen who refused would surrender any right to remain on the estate after two months; the owners also engaged to interpose no objections to the schools; all the obligations to hold for only one year unless renewed. At the time, I placed in charge of the whole adjustment Captain A. P. Ketchum, One hundred and Twenty-eighth United States Colored Infantry, acting assistant adjutant general, an officer of acknowledged acumen and conscientiousness. He was in this business my representative with power to extend the arrangement above given to all estates embraced in General Sherman's original provision in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Upon our return to Charleston, I sent Mr. Stanton this dispatch: I met several hundred of the colored people of Edisto Island to-day, and did my utmost to reconcile them to the surrender of their lands to the former owners. They will submit, but with evident sorrow, to the breaking of the promise of General Sherman's order. The greatest aversion is exhibited to making contracts, and they beg and plead for the privilege of renting or buying land on the island. My task is a hard one and I am convinced that something must be done to give these people and others the prospect of homesteads. Six days later, on October 25th, Mr. Stanton replied, his message reaching me at Mobile, Ala. He telegraphed: “I do not understand that your orders require you to disturb the freedmen in possession at present, but only ascertain whether a just mutual agreement can be made between the pardoned owners and the freedmen; and if we can, then carry it into effect.”
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