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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
			

  2. All commanders of military departments, districts, and posts will, upon receipt of this order, sur-
render and turn over to the proper supervising special agent such houses, tenements, lands, and plantations
not required for military uses as may be in their possession or under their control; and all officers of the
Army of the United States will at all times render to the agents appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury
all such aid as may be necessary to enable them to obtain possession of such houses, tenements, lands, and
plantations, and to maintain their authority over the same.
    By order of the Secretary of War:
                                                                    E. D. TOWNSEND,
                                                                Assistant Adjutant General.
  By this order, as it appears, the Treasury Department has been substituted to the
War Department in jurisdiction over "houses, tenements, lands, and plantations de-
serted and abandoned by insurgents within the lines of military occupation." This is
broad, but it is positive.
  In pursuance of these acts of Congress, and of this order of the War Department,
the Secretary of the Treasury has proceeded to appoint special agents and to establish
a code of regulations.  I have in my hands now a small volume, entitled "Commercial
Intercourse with States Declared in Insurrection and the Collection of Abandoned and
Captured Property," containing the statutes and also the departmental regulations on
the subject.  It appears that there is now an organization under the Secretary of the
Treasury, and also a system, both of reasonable completeness, to carry out these pur-
poses.
  In determining where the Bureau of Freedmen should be placed it becomes import-
ant to consider the interests which it is proposed to guard; and this brings me to
another aspect of the question.
   Looking at the freedmen, whose welfare is in question, we shall find that their labor
may  be classified under two different heads: first, military; and secondly, predial, or
relating to farms.  There will be still other laborers, including especially mechanics;
but these will be chiefly in the towns.  The large mass will be included in the two
classes I have named.  It is, therefore, these two classes that are to be particularly
considered.
  1. The first class is already provided for.  It appears that one hundred thousand
freedmen are already engaged in the military service as soldiers or laborers.  Others
wil continue to be engaged in this way.  These are all naturally and logically under
the charge of the War Department; nor do they need the superintendence of the pro-
posed bureau.  The act of Congress equalizing their condition in the Army of the
United States is better for them than any bureau.
  2. But there will remain the other larger class, consisting in the main of women and
children and farm laborers, who must find employment on the abandoned lands.  To
this labor they are accustomed.  These lands are their natural home.   But this class
must naturally and logically come under the charge of the Department which has
charge of the abandoned lands.  Conceding that all in the military service fall under
the superintendence of the War Department, it follows with equal reason that all who
labor on the lands must fall under the superintendence of the Treasury Department,
so long, at least, as this Department has charge of the lands.
  This conclusion seems so reasonable that your committee were not able to resist it.
But the testimony of persons who have given particular attention to the question is
explicit also, so that experience is in harmony with reason.  I have in my hands a
letter from Colonel McKaye, an eminent citizen of New York, and also a member of the
commission to inquire and report on this subject, appointed by the Secretary of War.
After visiting South Carolina and Louisiana, expressly to study the necessities of freed-




			
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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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