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[438] social progress, the organization and administration of the Freedmen's Bureau.

The great labor to be performed, its unremitting and exhausting anxieties, the wide field of operations, the obstacles that interposed and were to be overcome, the breadth of mind and sympathy of heart necessary to the proper accomplishment of the task, are facts which must be considered in forming a just estimate of General Howard's services.

The colossal proportions of the work of the Bureau will be seen at a glance. Its operations extended over 500,000 square miles of territory devastated by the greatest war of modern times. More than 4,000,--000 of its people sunk in the lowest depths of ignorance by two centuries of slavery,and suddenly set free amid the fierce animosities of war-free but poor, helpless, and starving. Here, truly, was a most appalling condition of things. Not only the destiny of the liberated race was in the balance, but the life of the nation itself depended upon the correct solution of this intricate problem. It was a great practical question that had to be met.

The letter to Mr. Whiting, solicitor of the War Department, setting forth the details of the scheme, has been cited in another connection. His plan was substantially adopted by Congress, save in regard to the suggestion that the head of the work ought to hold a Cabinet position, to which the dignity and magnitude of his duty certainly entitled him. Then arose the practical question — who among the tried, wise, and humane men of the nation should be trusted with the execution of this work As has been before stated, Major General Oliver O. Howard was appointed commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau in 1865. The duties

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