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[287] friend had so far affected the actions of white citizens that acts of injustice and oppression were less numerous. Planters looked to Bureau officers to make their laborers reliable; and freedmen sought their aid also to obtain their wages.

General Swayne, contrary to his first expectations, a little later found the Alabama legislators anything but fair and just. He said: “The vagrant law of Alabama operates most iniquitously upon the freedmen. In terms, the law makes no distinction on account of color, but in practice the distinction is invariable. I am satisfied that the law would be annulled if fairly tested. I have taken up three classes under it by habeas corpus, but in every case the persons were discharged for informality in the commitment without reaching the merits of the case.” So many grievances occurred that even Swayne, with whom the good governor sought to cooperate, was forced in several of the worst localities to reestablish Bureau courts.

General Absalom Baird in his last message in September indicated a bad outlook for Louisiana. Brutal conduct in distant parishes remained uncorrected for want of military force. The perpetrators were lawless and irresponsible white men; they were the terror of both property holders and laborers. They were countenanced by the community either through sympathy or fear. Baird added that the. Civil-Rights-Law was to some extent having a good effect, restraining those who had hitherto been disposed to treat United States laws with contempt. Several magistrates were under arrest for violating its provisions.

General Sheridan, following Baird in Louisiana, rather heightens the adverse picture: “Homicides are frequent in some localities; sometimes they are investigated ”

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