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[293]

Chapter 53: the bureau work in 1866; President Johnson's first opposition

Major Fowler, who had, as his main business, to hasten the return of houses and lands to pardoned owners, was given in addition the Claim Division. Its origin was this: At the office in Washington constant complaints had been received from our agents that discharged colored soldiers were constantly defrauded by unprincipled men of amounts due them from the Government. Some were told that they had dues when there were none. The deceivers would get from the individual soldier discharge papers and require a fee for their return. Soldiers would wait days and weeks in towns and cities for promised action touching bounties and prize money, often when the same had no existence in fact.

Again, in the thousands of cases where there were actual dues exorbitant fees would be taken in settlement, totally regardless of all law or reason. The gross ignorance of the mass of colored soldiers rendered them especial objects of such extortion and fraud, and the numerous shrewd transactions against them were usually so concealed as to render it exceedingly difficult to detect and expose the guilty. To prevent these soldiers far and near from being uselessly disturbed in their work; to forestall and prevent all such frauds in future and to enable those entitled to

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Andrew Johnson (1)
William Fowler (1)
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