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[253] felonies, or questions relating to titles to real estate were referred to some State court, if such existed where the case occurred, or to a court of the United States, or to military commissions.

These lesser bureau courts were often necessary for the protection of negroes against small personal persecutions and the hostility of white juries.

The higher courts of a State, though not admitting the testimony of people of color, were usually fair.

As soon as the military occupation of the South had been completed, provost courts, a military substitute for civil courts in unoccupied territory, were established here and there in each State. We gladly took advantage of these for the settlement of all sorts of difficulties. The sentence could be readily and easily executed against black and white men because of the guardhouse and the ever ready military force. In the great majority of instances, the provost courts decided fairly; but there were some where the officers composing them had the infectious prejudice against the negro, and discriminated against his interest; they invariably meted out to those who abused him by extortion or violence, punishments too small and in no way commensurate with their offenses.

When the President's provisional governors had rehabilitated the States under their old laws modified somewhat to conform to the amendments of the United States Constitution, the civil local courts became available for Bureau purposes and were at once used, provided they would admit the testimony of the freedmen. This boon of negro evidence was at first quite generally refused.

General Swayne in Alabama, proving himself an able diplomat as well as a good lawyer, had the first

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