A BRIDGE FROM SLAVERY TO FREEDOM.
HON. CHARLES SUMNER,
Bill to Establish a Bureau of Freedmen,
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, JUNE 13TH AND 15TH, 1864.
Mr. SUMNER. Mr. President, the Senate only a short time ago was engaged for a
week in considering how to open an iron way from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It is
now to consider how to open a way from slavery to freedom.
I regret much that only thus tardily we have been able to take up the bill for a
Bureau of Freedmen. But I trust that nothing will interfere with its consideration
now. In what I have to say, I shall confine myself to a simple statement. If I differ
from others I beg to be understood that it is in no spirit of controversy, and with no
pride of opinion. Nothing of this kind can enter justly into any such discussion.
I shall not detain the Senate to expose the importance of this measure. All must
confess it at a glance. It is at once a charity and a duty.
By virtue of existing acts of Congress, and aslo under the proclamation of the Presi-
dent, large numbers of slaves have suddenly become free. These may now be counted
by the hundred thousand. In the progress of victory they will be counted by the
As they derive their freedom from the United States, under legislative or executive
acts, the national Government cannot be excused from making such provisions as may
be required for their immediate protection and welfare during the present transition
period. The freedom that has been conferred must be rendered useful, or at least saved
from being a burden. Reports, official and unofficial show the necessity of action.
In some places it is a question of life and death.
It would be superfluous to quote at length from these reports, while all testify alike.