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[252] Virginia, and not far from Charlotteville met a small assembly of planters. Some of them said they could not work negroes when free. Others asked what was to hinder men from running off and leaving a crop half gathered? The most of them appeared quite in despair how to make or execute contracts with exslaves.

After having drawn out quite generally an expression of opinion and feeling on their part, I addressed them: “Gentlemen, no one of us alone is responsible for emancipation. The negro is free. This is a fact. Now cannot we blue-eyed Anglo-Saxons devise some method by which we can live with him as a free man” I then made a suggestion. “Suppose for all minor cases, say within one or two hundred dollars of value, we organize a court. My agent being one member may represent the Government; the planters of a district can elect another, and the freedmen a third. In nine cases out of ten the freedmen will choose an intelligent white man who has always seemed to be their friend. Thus in our court so constituted, every interest will be fairly represented.” The hearers were pleased. They were astonished to find me a friend and not an enemy, and they said with feeling: “General, why didn't you come down here before?”

After this talk a court was started there, and similar courts extended in orders to all my jurisdiction. For the whole field for some months minor justice was administered by these Bureau courts constituted wholly or partially from officers or agents of the Bureau; but everywhere when practicable we associated civilians with our officials. By orders, the power as to punishment was limited to not exceed $100 fine, or thirty days imprisonment. All cases of capital crimes,

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Charlotteville (New York, United States) (1)

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