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[417] had been to issue rations and clothing; another, after careful examination of their condition, to feed the most needy, through work temporarily provided near by, and through tickets to established soup houses; but the main expedient was in sending small parties under chosen agents, who were men or women of fitness, to places where there were work and wages, i. e., places already ascertained where there were reliable promises of employment. But in one locality, where there was a large, troublesome crowd, all my efforts in providing for the men, women, and children appeared to fail. I was almost in despair.

One day, one of the largest owners of the land, or rather city lots, situated between Fourteenth and Seventeenth streets and north of K Street, came to me in great distress. He had gladly suffered the Government in the war time to put up on his own property, barracks, hospital structures, and quartermaster's storehouses. The owners of the lands thereabouts, including himself, had bought in these buildings at Government sales after the war; but not before they had been seized and occupied by the floating colored population which had gathered there from Maryland, Virginia, and farther South. A few industrious negroes were cultivating small gardens on the vacant lots, but the majority were of that crowd of helpless refugees that were living from hand to mouth, nobody could tell just how. The owners had tried in vain to get the city to remove them, for their land was now worth $1,500 an acre. They could get no rentals and could not sell while thus encumbered. My visitor said that he came to the commissioner of freedmen as a last resort. He was a kind man and declared that he had not the heart to force these wretched people into the streets or into

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