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Freedmen's Bureau Records: Thomas P. Jackson to Orlando Brown, January 31, 1868

In his report, Jackson comments on the continuing problem of contract negotiation and disputed wages between employers and laborers. He also worries about conservative whites' efforts to "defeat the Constitution."

Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands,
Office 4th Division, 9th Sub-District, Virginia. Brigadier General O. Brown
Assistant Commissioner District of VirginiaRichmond (Through Headquarters 9th Sub-District Virginia)

January 31, 1867

Staunton, Virginia


In compliance with Circular Order Number 6 S. 1866 Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands I have the honor to submit the following report of condition of Bureau affairs in the 4th Division 9th Sub-District Virginia which includes the counties of Augusta and Highland.

Numerous calls are daily made at this office by Freedpeople, to obtain settlement of disputed accounts for labor, or to ask aid to compel payment of wages acknowledged to be due. I still find in a majority of these cases, a trivial money balance to the credit of the laborer, or a claim against him for over payment in produce or goods, which it is difficult to refute, by reason of his having no counter account of his own to show.

Few contracts for labor by the year are being made at this office, partly owing to unwillingness of employers to come to the Bureau, and partly to indisposition of laborers to make contracts for the year.

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This last is much to be regretted, and I use all exertion to induce the Freedmen to make permanent engagements, but in most cases, without success. Wages offered are about as last year, $8 c $10 per month for good hands, with rations house and fuel. Boys are little wanted. There have been no special breaches of the peace during this month, by or against Freedmen on the part of the Whites. In the case of assault with a hatchet by John [unclear: McNeish] (colored) upon Moses Lowell (colored), McNeish was fined $1 only by the magistrate and released, but next morning I brought the case to the notice of the Mayor, and he had McNeish rearrested and held to answer indictment at March court.

Political matters between white and colored are quiet, but I can report little or no change of feeling. The conservative organization is active and general, every preparation being made to defeat the Constitution, no matter what it may be, but so far no impression has been made upon the masses of colored voters, who see now quite clearly that the

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success of the conservatives will result in depriving them of all privileges of freedom. Temperance organizations cannot it seems be effected, but there is little drunkeness among Freedmen, except in the country near distilleries or low [unclear: groggers] in town. The colored churches do not take up the Temperance movement earnestly, if at all, and until this is done I do not look for much progress in organizing societies.

Both town and county authorities seem to extend impartial relief to the poor Freedpeople, and since the settlement of the question as to who should furnish temporary relief, there is little ground for complaint.

I have the honor to be, General
Your obedient servant

Thomas P. Jackson
Assistant Sub Assistant Commissioner

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