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Chapter 56: famine reliefs; paying soldiers' bounties, and summary of work accomplished

In parts of our Southern States a famine existed early in March, 1867; the published reports of the extensive destitution of all classes of people, including the freedmen, became so heartrending, that for once I anticipated the action of Congress. It was one offense of which none of those who were hostile to my administration ever complained. I had abundant authority so far as the loyal refugees and freedmen were involved to feed them to the extent of our food appropriation; but we had reduced this number to narrow limits when this famine fell upon the Southern coast. In some counties actual starvation had set in. I hurried off my quartermaster, as soon as I was convinced, to Alexandria, and succeeded in getting Mr. McKenzie, a wealthy and prominent citizen of that city, to load a vessel with the necessaries of life and send them off in the quickest time. I also shipped other supplies to points where the suffering appeared greatest; then going before a Senate committee reported what I had done. One of the most conservative of our Northern members said at first: “We will not give help to rebels.” I insisted stoutly: “The rebellion is over; people are starving, and humanity demands that we succor them. It is not a question now of whether we shall help those who are likely to perish, for I have already made a beginning and have come to Congress to ask to be sustained. I have sent a shipload of provisions ”

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Alexander Mckenzie (1)
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March, 1867 AD (1)
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