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Bridge from Slavery to Freedom: Speech of Hon. Charles Sumner, on the Bill to Establish a Bureau of Freedmen, in the Senate of the U.S., June 13 and 15, 1864

   Look, for one moment, at the class of duties already imposed upon the Treasury De- 
partment in connection with the very homes of these freedmen.
   Congress has, by special acts, conferred upon the Secretary of the Treasury extraor-
dinary powers with regard to trade in the rebel States.   There was, first, the act of
July 13, l861, entitled "further to provide for the collection of duties on imports and 
other purposes," which declared that commercial intercourse, with any State or part
of a State in rebellion, when licensed by the President "shall be conducted and car-
ried on only in pursuance of rules and regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the
Treasury."  And it is further provided, that
  "The Secretary of the Treasury may appoint such officers at places where officers of the customs are not
now authorized by law, as may be needed to carry into effect such licenses, rules and regulations.--Statutes
at Large, vol. 12, p. 257.
  There is another act of Congress, approved July 13, 1862, supplementary to the
act just named, which confers additional powers upon the Secretary of the Treasury
with reference to trade with "any place in the possession or under the control of
insurgents against the United States."
  There is also the act of July 7, 1862, entitled "An act for the collection of direct
taxes in the insurrectionary districts within the United States, and for other purposes."
In this act it is provided (section nine) that where the board of commissioners shall,
be satisfied that the owners of lands "have left the same to join the rebel forces, or
otherwise to engage in and abet this rebellion, and the same shall have been struck off
to the United States at said sale, and said commissioners shall, in the name of the
United States, enter upon and take possession of the same, and may lease the same,
together or in parcels, to any person or persons who are citizens of the United States;"
and (section ten) the commissioners "shall from time to time make such temporary
rules and regulations and insert such clauses in said leases as shall be just and proper
to secure employment and support, at wages or upon shares of the crop, of such per-
sons and families as may be residing upon the said parcels or lots of land, which said
rules and regulations are declared to be subject to the approval of the President."
(Statutes at Large, volume 12, page 424.)  The execution of this act is lodged in
the Treasury Department.
  Then comes the act of Congress, approved March 12, 1863, entitled "An act to pro-
vide for the collection of abandoned property and for the prevention of frauds in insur-
rectionary districts within the United States."  Under this act the Secretary was
authorized "to appoint a special agent or agents to receive and collect all abandoned 
or captured property in any State or Territory, or any portion of any State or Territory
of the United States, designated as in insurrection against the lawful Government of 
the United States."  The act proceeds with details on the subject.
  Such are the powers conferred by Congress upon the Treasury Department concern-
ing trade and abandoned property in the rebel States.  These were folloed by a gen-
eral order from the War Department, as  follows:
                                  [General Orders, No. 331.]
                                         WAR DEPARTMENT, ADJUTANT GENERAL'S OFFICE,
                                          WASHINGTON, October 9, 1863.

The President orders:
 1. All houses, tenements, lands. and plantations, except such as may be required for military purpose,
which have been or may be deserted and abandoned by insurgents within the lines of the military occupa- 
tion of the United States forces in States declared by proclamation of the President to be in insurrection,
will hereafter be under the supervision and control of the supervising special agents of the Treasury  Depart-


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Bridge from Slavery to Freedom: Speech of Hon. Charles Sumner, on the Bill to Establish a Bureau of Freedmen, in the Senate of the U.S., June 13 and 15, 1864


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