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[307] have adopted precisely the same methods of regulating labor as have obtained in the Northern States, but neither the planters nor the freedmen were yet prepared for this.

Planters complained that freedmen under a free system of labor would not work till the crop was harvested, but would remain only till they obtained money to keep them a short time, and then would desert the crops at a most critical period. Nearly every Southern State had provided laws by which the freedmen are to be contracted with for one year. Planters refused to employ freedmen at all unless they would agree to remain one year. Of course, freedmen were driven into those obligations by the same force that compelled them to work for low wages. Anyone who will recall the current news of the day, as reported during the months of last January and February, will remember that all the power that capital could exercise was brought to bear upon the laborers of the South to make them contract.

We then labored earnestly and successfully to elevate wages and defended the interest of the freedmen in their contracts, being constantly resisted by the inertia of the peculiar opinions of Southern property holders. The evils in the contracts will disappear just as soon as free labor shall have a permanent foothold under its necessary protection of equal and just laws properly executed.

From the course pursued by the inspectors, I have good reason to suspect the object of the inspection, as they understood it, was to bring the Freedmen's Bureau into contempt before the country, and, to do this, they have endeavored to prove maladministration.

On the contrary, I am prepared to prove to yourself

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