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[294] do so to obtain their prize and bounty money and other bona fide dues that might be lost to them, this Claim Division had its birth and was regularly set on foot. It began its work March 17, 1866, and by our extensive agency which penetrated every State, great numbers of both soldiers and sailors of the freedmen class were, without charge to the beneficiaries, helped and benefited. It was the efficient work done here that led to the Act of Congress which the next year placed all remaining payments of bounties, prize money, and unsettled claims of colored soldiers and sailors under the charge of this Bureau.

An incident showing the variety of our burdens was the making of the Bureau by Congress the channel of expending an appropriation of $25,000 for the immediate relief of destitute whites and blacks in the District of Columbia.

In the early spring, there suddenly appeared an extraordinary destitution in Washington and Georgetown, caused by the overplus of population which no effort on the part of the Government had been able to reduce. In this destitution there were more white people than negroes who were in a starving condition. April 17, 1866, Congress made that special appropriation and charged me, the commissioner of the Bureau, with its disbursement.

With a view to have others share with me the responsibility, a special relief commission of six members was constituted by me and placed under the immediate supervision of the assistant commissioner of the home district. Surgeon Robert Reyburn was chosen as the president of the commission. By using in this organization officials of the Bureau, and securing the help of many benevolent citizens besides as

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April 17th, 1866 AD (1)
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