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Western Freedmen's Aid Commission, Cincinnati, Ohio, Report
6                              REPORT  OF

                    Difficulties of the Work.
   You inquire as to the difficulties we have met. Many of those that at
first embarrassed our work are now removed.  In the beginning we found
little sympathy among military officers. The promulgation of the Procla-
mation of Emancipation did not reveal to them the purposes of the Gov-
ernment with reference to the freedmen, so it was only by a kind of suffer-
ance that any thing could be done in their behalf. We had to pay a heavy
tariff for transportation of supplies, whether by railway or steamboat.
Shipments on the way to their destination were often detained at military
posts, and sometimes kept so long where they were exposed to rain that
large quantities were much damaged.  Officers not unfrequently refused,
in a peremptory manner, to furnish even a temporary store-room or any
other facility for the reception and distribution of the much-needed sup-
plies.  In far too many instances the only assistance the freedmen received
from those in authority was a partial protection from the clutches of their
rebel masters, while the representatives of an open-handed charity in the
North that would have ministered some relief were constantly embarrassed
by the indifference of officers, and sometimes by their covert and not un-
frequently by their open opposition.
   A valuable service was rendered by appointing Colonel Eaton Super-
intendent of Freedmen on the Mississippi.  Though his policy has not in
all respects been favorable to the efforts of benevolent associations, yet
his appointment gave a head to the work.  Since then transportation has
been furnished for all goods on the Mississippi; rooms have been turned
over for depots; and school-teachers have received rations; and, with a
few exceptions, officers have co-operated perhaps as far as under the
present regime there can be co-operation.
   The same embarrassments attended the work in Middle Tennessee.
Our agents and teachers at every point have found among the citizens
a sentiment hostile to all efforts in behalf of the freedmen-especially
those that aim at their elevation. We received but little co-operation from
any officers there till General Grant assumed the command of the depart-
ment. A store-room was then immediately secured at Nashville; an order
given for the transportation of all supplies, and another for rations for
our teachers. In February a committee from the "United States Commis-
sion for the Relief of the National Freedmen" secured from the Secretary
of War an order for the transportation of supplies throughout the Mis-
sissippi Valley, since which time we have not been embarrassed in regard
to transportation except by the occasional indifference or opposition of
officials.  We know that the Government appreciates and regards with
favor what our Associations are doing, and stands ready to co-operate as
far as may accord with military regulations.
                         Unity of Action.
   We are in Convention here to inquire what may be done to give the
greatest efficiency to our efforts in behalf of the freed people.  The expe-
rience of the past indicates that, first of all, there should be the fullest
co-operation possible among all of the Associations engaged in this work.
A consciousness of this has brought us together; its necessity is made the
more apparent by every report submitted, and the ways in which it may
be effected already begin to suggest themselves. It is evident that we
may have agents and depots for our supplies in common. Application to
officers for the aid contributed by the Government might at any one point
be made through one careful and judicious person, and with better re-
sults than to have these applications multiplied. It is possible that the
whole work might be brought under the supervision of a few agents-
perhaps one in charge of schools, and one in charge of the distribution


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


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