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[248]

In my first published instructions on the subject I said that no assistant commissioner or agent was authorized to tolerate compulsory, unpaid labor, except for the legal punishment of crime. Suffering may result from this course to some extent, but suffering is preferred to slavery, and is to some degree the necessary consequence of events.

I was confident that the education unhindered in books, and from experience, would, in time, work wonders, stimulating individual enterprise. The people, however, were never compelled to make contracts. When farmers, traders, or mechanics preferred, they could make their bargains without record, but the interest springing from the employer's necessity to have some security for the laborer to remain the year out, and the need of each freedman to have some guaranty for his wages rendered it easier for the Bureau agent to introduce written contracts. Certainly this was true wherever sufficient daylight had penetrated to make men see that slavery really had been abolished.

Vigilance and effort the first season gave good results in those communities in which the people most quickly recognized the negro as a free man. In Virginia and North Carolina the vast majority of freedmen were already well at work. Partnerships and joint stock companies with capital had come in and greatly helped us. They hired the men as they would have done elsewhere, treated the workmen well, and paid promptly.

In South Carolina and Georgia the first results of free labor efforts were not so encouraging. I wrote after a visit to Charleston that, as the department commander and assistant commissioner were both at Charleston trying to cooperate, more complete order

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