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heir pay. These illustrations all through the South show our work in creating law-abiding communities in which fair local laws were slowly extending to the protection of negroes. Judicial proceeding was in a transition state everywhere and needed careful watching and continued experiment under friendly supervision, such as our officers uniformly gave. How much violence, fraud, and oppression, how much idleness, theft, and perhaps insurrection our agency prevented can never be measured. Other nations have not succeeded so well in relieving the shock to society when they were passing from slavery to freedom. The schools were increasing and were in much better shape than in 1865 and yet there were only 965 organized schools, 1,405 teachers, and 90,778 pupils. We knew that there ought to be ten times as many. It was but a beginning — a drop in the bucket-a nucleus — an object lesson. The demonstration, however, showed that it was practicable to educate the children of negro
President Johnson's reconstruction and further bureau legislation for 1866 President Johnson, by the inspiration and help of his Secretary of State, Mr. Seward, had succeeded before the meeting of Congress in December, 1865, in completely rehabilitating all the States that had belonged to the Southern Confederacy, so far as the form went. Apparently all the functions of Government, both State and National, were already reawakened and in operation. By taking the old State constitutions of 1861 and modifying them slightly to make them comply with the Thirteenth Amendment of the National Constitution, seemingly the problems of reconstruction were solved. Everything, for a time, to the late Confederates, was going on as they would have it. All those who had been for four years fighting against the United States were again in power at the State capitals, or so close behind those in office that they made themselves felt in every sort of legislation and act of administration. But the f
December 1st (search for this): chapter 2.18
r could not extend beyond the fiscal year ending June 30, 1866. The necessity for the protection which the Freedmen's Bureau would give became more and more apparent. Every report received from our agents bore evidences of troubles then existing and apprehended. The words of the assistant commissioner of North Carolina, Colonel Whittlesey, were significant. They found a veritable echo in the reports of other assistants and subassistants throughout the South. Writing from Raleigh, December 1st, he said: But it is evident all over the South that the colored race cannot be safely left in the hands of the late masters or the Southern people. Just as sure as that is done, such oppressive laws will be enacted that the blacks will be driven to desperation and the scenes lately witnessed in Jamaica will be reinacted in many sections of our own country. He gave instances of outrages committed against loyal people because of their loyalty. This was done in places where the military
titude of President Johnson and of the leading Southern whites, together with the apparent inability of Congress to enact a law to which he and his new friends objected, created, during those six months of trial, prior to the passage of this measure, great anxiety and apprehension. Still, all officers and agents, cooperating with the small military garrisons in their vicinity, had worked on energetically and hopefully to meet and overcome the increasing difficulties of the situation. By November it was evident that the new law had had a salutary effect. Aside from its relation to the business interests of the Bureau, which were difficult to manage under the uncertain tenure of the previous law, it served to cheer the freed people throughout the entire South, to increase their confidence in the general Government, to give new stimulus and a firmer tone to industrial and agricultural enterprises, and to impart strength to the hope of justice; a law less comprehensive and explicit w
grow worse. But I was greatly mistaken. Davis said: The laws shall be executed at whatever cost. He settled difficulties between the negroes and white men with satisfaction to both, and punished the lawless with such promptitude that even the bloody and much-feared regulators were obliged, where he could reach their haunts, to suspend their base work of terrorism which they had undertaken among the freedmen and their teachers. General J. W. Sprague, most manly and fearless of men, in October of 1866 was no longer sanguine for Arkansas in the line of justice. The legislature did not grant the negroes their rights. He feared to give cases to State officers on account of their manifest prejudice and unfairness. He could not, he confessed, carry out his Bureau instructions without the troops. Murders of freedmen and other crimes against them were on the increase. Civil authorities utterly failed to arrest and punish offenders. The clouds were growing thicker and thicker. Th
the merits of the case. So many grievances occurred that even Swayne, with whom the good governor sought to cooperate, was forced in several of the worst localities to reestablish Bureau courts. General Absalom Baird in his last message in September indicated a bad outlook for Louisiana. Brutal conduct in distant parishes remained uncorrected for want of military force. The perpetrators were lawless and irresponsible white men; they were the terror of both property holders and laborers. took liberal action in matters of vagrancy, or apprenticing and contracts which affected the freedmen; they modified the old laws to conform to the Thirteenth Amendment of the Constitution and to the Civil-Rights-Law. Before General Fisk, in September, was relieved by General J. R. Lewis, he took occasion by a circular, widely published, to transfer all cases to the civil officers elected by the people, to call their attention afresh to the United States laws involved, and to entreat them to
ed witnesses anywhere in Maryland until the effect of the United States Civil Rights Law, recently enacted, which forbade such distinction, came into play. Upon a case of great outrage, committed by a white man upon a negro, where the Bureau agent brought the white man to trial and the white man was condemned and sentenced, an appeal was taken before Judge Bowie of the Maryland Court of Appeals, and the constitutionality of the Civil-Rights-Law called in question. Judge Bowie, to our joy, July 2d, decided that colored witnesses were competent, and that the Civil-Rights-Law in this respect was constitutional. After that happy decision warrants were issued on the testimony of negroes. But the agents now found another obstacle. Constables refused to serve subpoenas for such witnesses, and even when colored men did testify, the prejudice of jurymen gave little or no weight to their testimony. In North Carolina General Robinson, now in command, delayed the transfer of cases for tri
r that happy decision warrants were issued on the testimony of negroes. But the agents now found another obstacle. Constables refused to serve subpoenas for such witnesses, and even when colored men did testify, the prejudice of jurymen gave little or no weight to their testimony. In North Carolina General Robinson, now in command, delayed the transfer of cases for trial to the civil courts, especially those where whites had committed fraud, injury, or violence upon persons of color. In July the governor wrote him: There now exists under the laws of this State no discrimination in the administration of justice to free persons of color. The general then directed the reference of all cases to the county and State authorities, with the single exception of the claims for wages due under contracts witnessed by Bureau officials. These admitted of no delay, and the agents adjudicated them as before. It was indeed better for both parties. But still in cases of neglect, where the civ
g but a spirit of revenge. ... It was to be expected that the ignorant, violent, and unprincipled portion of these people, being additionally demoralized by the war, should give vent to the evil within them by committing outrages. On the other side it can surprise no one that the freedmen should be somewhat unsettled, inclined to avoid labor to which all their lives had been devoted under stern compulsion, and that they should misapprehend their rights and duties. The deliberate murder April 30th of that year of a worthy officer, Lieutenant J. B. Blanding, Twenty-first Regiment Veteran Reserve Corps, while walking on the street at Grenada, Miss., and attempts upon the lives of other men who had been faithful and fearless in the discharge of their delicate and dangerous duties, gave rise to increased anxiety everywhere and seemed to necessitate an increase of military force. General Clinton B. Fisk had good results in Tennessee in 1866. The State legislature took liberal action
February 10th (search for this): chapter 2.18
of the offenses. Much feeling and bitterness were evolved in the discussion that followed the senator's statements. Yet all hindering amendments were voted down, and January 25th, the bill passed the Senate by 27 majority. In the House there was a like fiery discussion. The bill was amended so as to limit it to sections of the country where the habeas corpus remained suspended on February 1, 1866. The Senate removed the amendment, so that the original bill passed both Houses and February 10th went to the President. He returned it with a veto. He objected to thus legislating without the new representatives and senators from the South. He declared that the bill interfered with the local administration of justice; that it was unconstitutional for the general Government to support indigent persons; that it was unreasonable to make provision for a class or color; that it was extravagantly expensive, there being $11,745,--000, according to the commissioner's estimates for the c
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