“Freedman’s Bureau to Continue One Year Longer,” 5 March 1866

CAROLINA WATCHMAN, published in Salisbury, NC.  Monday, 5 March 1866, page 1.  Columns 1 & 2


“The Freedmen’s Bureau to Continue One Year Longer” [The Freedmen’s Bureau is explained at:


Major General O. O. Howard, Commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau, has addressed the following circular letter to each of his assistant commissioners:

War Department,

Bureau of R. F. and A. L. [Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands]

(The United States War Department’s Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen & Abandoned Lands is explained at:


Washington, DC, Feb. 23 (1866)

General:  Anticipating the excitement that will necessarily follow the action of the Government (the national government or as Commissioner Howard calls it the “General Government”) with regard to the new Freedmen’s bill, you may feel somewhat embarrassed in the duties devolving upon you under the laws and regulations already existing.

That you may act steadily and firmly in the emergency, you must be prepared for any increased hostility on the part of those who have so persistently hindered and troubled you and your agents, and may be an increased restlessness among the freedmen (referring to the former slaves).

The President has assured the commissioners that he regards the present law as continuing the existence of the Bureau at least a year from this time.

Please ascertain and report what steps have been taken in your district by the State and municipal authorities to provide for the absolutely indigent and suffering refugees and freedmen that have been thrown upon the General Government for support.  Continue to use every possible effort to find good homes for orphan minors who are dependent and reduced by means of employment offices in the different cities and villages – aiding the unemployed to find homes and places of labor.

You have succeeded in allaying strife, settling labor and promoting education in the midst of great difficulties.  Continue with the utmost energy and ability to pursue the same course, so as to demonstrate to the people of your district the good intentions of the Government, and the complete practicality of the system of free labor.  Give a thorough inspection of every agent for whom you are responsible.

Immoralities, corruption, neglected duty, and incapacity are sometimes complained of against officers and agents of the Bureau.  If either of these charges be sustained on investigation, the guilty agent will be replaced or not.

Thanking you heartily for the energy and fidelity you have thus far displayed, the Commissioner is pleased to express an unwavering confidence in your ability to cope with any difficulty that may arise.

Very respectively,

Your obedient servant,

O. O. Howard

Major General, Commissioner.



“Forth Coming Proclamation of the President:

Major General Howard, Chief of the Freedmen’s Bureau, has addressed a circular to his subordinates, in which he states that the President has assured him that “He regards the present law as continuing the existing of the Bureau at least a year from this time.”  The law establishing the Bureau provides that it shall continue “during the present war of the rebellion, and for one year thereafter.”  Down to the present time there has been no formal official proclamation of the end of the war and the restoration of peace.  There has, therefore, been a question whether the Freedmen’s Bureau would expire, by limition of law, in twelve months from surrender of the last organized Confederate military force, or whether the term of twelve months would only begin to run from and after the formal proclamation of peace. The latter seems to be the interpretation of the President; and we may now expect such a proclamation to be issued.  Indeed the WASHINGTON CHRONCILE, in publishing General Howard’s circular above mention, states that it is “the result of an interview which General Howard had with the President a few days ago, wherein he stated that he construed the veto of the President [President Andrew Johnson had vetoed a Freedmen’s Bill in February, 1866, however, the bill became law when Congress passed it by over riding his veto in July, 1866] to mean that the war was at an end, and that the operations of the Bureau would soon terminate. – The President, it is said, replied that he did consider the war as at an end, and that he would soon issue a proclamation to that effect.”

Upon the putting forth of such a proclamation, martial law and military rule will cease in these (Southern) States, the privilege of the writ of Habeas Corpus (the right of a citizen to sue for false imprisonment by the government) will be restored, and the people will be remitted to civil tribunals of their own creation for the ascertainment and protection of their rights.  This, for the reason that the law of Congress authorizing the suspension of the privilege of that great writ, confers the power on the President only “during the existing rebellion.”

With the supremacy of civil authority once more and the privilege of self-government in all State affairs, again enjoyed by the people of the South, the action Thad (Thaddeus) Stevens’ Obstruction Committee becomes a matter of comparatively slight importance.  From:  THE RICHMOND WHIG

[Brooks D. Simpson from Arizona State University explains Congressman Thaddeus Stevens’ views on the confiscation and redistribution of the property of Southern planters in his article “Land and the Ballot: Securing the Fruits of Emancipation?” pages 1 -2, when he states:  “Steven’s comprehensive view of what was ideally desirable to achieve the fruits of emancipation was most clearly expressed in his speech to the Pennsylvania Republican convention in Lancaster on September 6, 1865.  He called for the confiscation of the land of the top ten percent of Southern landholders – some 394 million acres.  Each adult freedperson (or former slave) would receive 40 acres; the remaining acreage-more than 350 million acres-would be sold at auction, with the proceeds going to veterans’ pensions, compensation for loyalists, and the retirement of the war debt.  Always pragmatic, Stevens saw in his proposal something for whites as well as for blacks, something for Northerners as well as for Southerners.  Land would be made available to whites as well as blacks, and the proceeds from land sales would go far to meeting the postwar financial obligations of the federal government.  But at the heart of the proposal was economic self-sufficiency for blacks through land ownership.  Over the next two years, the details of this proposal would change, but the basic idea remained the same – land for the freedmen.”  Mr. Simpson’s complete essay appears at:http://www.warhistorian.org/mershon/simpson-land-and-the-ballot.pdf.]

SOURCE: North Carolina Newspaper Digitization Project of the North Carolina State Archives at:


The edition of THE CAROLINA WATCHMAN for 5 March 1866 at: