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 shook and shattered the whole previously existing social system. It broke up the old industries and threatened a reign of anarchy. Even well-disposed and humane land owners were at a loss what to do, or how to begin the work of reorganizing society, and of rebuilding their ruined fortunes. Very few had any knowledge of free labor, or any hope that their former slaves would serve them faithfully for wages. On the other hand, the freed people were in a state of great excitement and uncertainty. They could hardly believe that the liberty proclaimed was real and permanent. Many were afraid to remain on the same soil that they had tilled as slaves, lest by some trick they might find themselves again in bondage. Others supposed that the Government would either take the entire supervision of their labor and support, or divide among them the lands of conquered owners, and furnish them with all that might be necessary to begin life as independent farmers. In such an unsettled state of affairs it was no ordinary task we undertook, to inspire hostile races with mutual confidence, to supply the immediate wants of the sick and starving, to restore social order, and to set in motion all the wheels of industry. .... Surely our Government exercised a large benevolence. We have had under our care no less than five hundred and eighty-four thousand one hundred and seventy-eight (584,178) sick and infirm persons, for whom no provision was made by local authorities, and who had no means themselves of procuring the attendance and comforts necessary to health and life. It has not been possible to provide for the proper treatment of the insane. For some of this unfortunate class admission has been gained by earnest correspondence to
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