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Western Freedmen's Aid Commission, Cincinnati, Ohio, Report
			
            WESTERN  FREEDMEN'S  AID  COMMISSION.                        5


                         Religios Policy.
   The religious element entering so largely into the organization of our
Commission, it is not strange that a question arose as to the limit of our
operations--whether we should send missionaries to evangelize as well as
teachers to instruct the freedmen.  The Commission, agreeing that the
work of evangelization was authoritatively committed to the Church, and
that no organization of merely human origin is warranted in subverting
the Divine plan, determined to leave to the Church the whole work of
sending missionaries and organizing Churches.  Its policy is, however, to
employ only Christian persons as teachers; to encourage the organization
of Sabbath schools; to send Bibles and Testaments to the freedmen; to
influence them, so far as may be, to observe the Sabbath, and to attend the
public worship of God; and to inculcate sentiments of respect for religion.
If ministers of the Gospel engage with us as teachers, it is not for us to
prohibit their preaching--our  aim being to direct all our agencies so that
they shall exert an influence that will be favorable to the work of evan-
gelization among the freedmen, to which a signal providence of God
invites the whole Church, and upon which she must speedily enter.

                    Distribution of Supplies.
  A General Superintendent of Freedmen on the Mississippi had been
appointed, with powers to organize the work of relief.  As co-workers
with the Government we availed ourselves of the public agencies for the
distribution of our supplies.  This plan was pursued till an experience
of some months proved it to be necessary to appoint agents who should
be directly responsible to our Commission.  The policy of the Freedmen's
Department, however wise and efficient, was not adapted to promote the
efficiency of voluntary associations.  We seldom received any acknowl-
edgment of the receipt of goods forwarded, or any report of their dis-
posal--whether given to the destitute or sold to those able to purchase.
While dependent on the public for the means to carry forward our work;
we were thus left without the data to furnish our patrons a satisfactory
report-such as would assure their confidence in our operations, and
sustain and increase their interest in the cause.
   To remedy this defect, to avoid great delays in transportation of sup-
plies, to prevent embarrassing mistakes and frequent losses, and to secure
a careful and judicious distribution of the goods among the needy, it was
determined to appoint intelligent and responsible men as agents to super-
vise the whole work of distribution, both of goods and of books.  We
placed Isaac G. Thorne on the Mississippi River and Rev. D. M. Wilson
in Middle Tennessee, making it their duty to canvass as often and thor-
oughly as possible their respective fields--to visit the camps, ascertain
the most needy points, and furnish them with supplies.  The immediate
work of giving out the goods and books we referred to the persons in
charge of the camps and to the teachers, a part of whose duty it is to
ascertain the real wants of those for whose improvement they labor.  We
have a depot at Memphis for the Mississippi  River, and one at Nashville
for Middle Tennessee and the adjacent territory, to which most of our
shipments are consigned, and from which the Agents can draw supplies
whenever needed.  These Agents account to the Commission for all the
supplies they receive and distribute.  By this plan we secure the prompt
distribution of our goods to those places where there is the greatest need,
and among those persons who are really the most destitute.  It is due to
the Freedmen's Department to say that many of its agents, by a cheerful
co-operation with our agents and teachers, have greatly aided and facili-
tated this work of relief.




			
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Western Freedmen's Aid Commission, Cincinnati, Ohio, Report


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