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6 To meet the wants of both, "Labor Regulations" were issued from this office, providing a system of contracts for twelve months, with mutual securities and limitations. To dispel the illusion about Christmas, circulars and handbills were distributed, and speeches made by local agents of the Bureau. The advice thus given was gradually accepted, with a reservation that Christmas should first pass without the expected distribution; and the holiday week witnessed a general making of engagements for the year. The form of contract adopted was generally that furnished from your office, though various other forms were used. The ordinary rate of compensation was ten or twelve dollars a month for men, and from six to ten dollars a month for women, for field work, besides food, quarters and medical attendance. The cost of these for quite young children was deducted from the money compensation to their parents. Quite frequently, a share in the crop was preferred to a consideration in money. Individuals, whose exceptional condition as slaves had permitted them to acquire intelligence and character, found little difficulty in effecting leases, though in remote places this exposed them to the inroads of marauding ruffians. Meanwhile, a different evil was formidable elsewhere. The method of wholesale conscription, exempting certain individuals by a system of details, put in force here during the war, was exceedingly convenient for the wealthy, and the burden of peril and exposure upon the poorer classes. Probably forty thousand men, mostly from among these, were the victims of rebellion. The mountain counties, where they generally lived, were those also where a loyal element incited predatory warfare, and were the scene of continuous military operations. The pauperism which resulted from all these, and was otherwise aggravated by the war, compelled a measure of relief beyond the ordinary system, which indeed in this State, had been next to none at all. The State, before its occupation by our forces, afforded meal and 7 salt to one hundred and forty thousand persons. This was the more easy, as the cotton culture had been in great measure supplanted by the growth of corn. It was unfortunate for Alabama that the occupation was too late for the returning soldiers to make a crop that year, as was done quite generally elsewhere. The derangement of labor and annihilation of values incident to the downfall of slavery and rebellion, amounting to the loss of the crop of 1865, and of two-thirds of the basis of taxation, left neither food nor money to continue State relief, and aroused great dread of the time when the old crop should be exhausted. Supplies which were issued at the various posts where troops were, eked out the store in hand until the approach of winter, when the withdrawal of the troops and the increasing distress occasioned urgent appeals to the Government and to the Bureau for relief. The response which these met in your circular of November 27th, and the concurrent assurances received by the Governor, required of me a monthly estimate, which should be the measure of assistance. Meanwhile, the Legislature had assembled, and a Committee on Destitution and Supplies was appointed in each house. Their joint report, based upon information compiled on oath in nearly every county in the State, disclosed fifty-two thousand white persons who were infirm and destitute. Of Freedom they took no account. Of these, the great part of the infirm and helpless still found support at their old homes, from either their former owners, or the able-bodied of their own race who remained. Yet those driven away by avarice, or insolvency, or the sale of real estate, added a large per centage to the report of the Committee. The Legislature created the office of Commissioner for the Destitute, who was, by law, directed to assist in distributing what might be afforded by the Bureau; and besides indicated their sense of the necessity, by appropri-
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