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[[page number 10]] the good done by them has been great, and the saving of life considerable. It was also the duty of the agent to encourage schools, but graver needs and the disturbed condition left little scope at first for these. Most of the Aid Societies, which did so good a work elsewhere, were over-taxed in fields where labor was begun before the occupation of this State, while neither means nor orders warranted the general employment of teachers by the Bureau. And it was only in the few places where troops were stationed that schools were safe or practicable. An excellent school of about five hundred pupils was supported at Mobile by the Northwestern Freedmen's Aid Society, and a school of about two hundred pupils was maintained at Montgomery by the Bureau; but it was not until this year that a decided progress was attained. What is here said as to schools, with other preceding remarks, based on the very late occupation of this State, does not apply in terms to the counties adjoining the Tennessee river, they having been temporarily attached to another jurisdiction. These agents, or "superintendents," as they were styled in orders, were also charged with the issue of rations in the county in which they were stationed, and with the supervision of the same in the remaining counties of a given district. They were also required to investigate, and, in proper cases, forward, complaints of malfeasance against magistrates or other county officers. And so long as martial law obtained, they were useful in the arrest and confinement of outlaws and evil-doers. They were permitted to delegate the charge of contracts in different vicinities to such magistrates as were found to have the confidence of both races, reserving the right of appeal and supervision. To effect these various end, they were allowed such details of enlisted men, and such limited supplies, as could [[page number 11]] be furnished from the army; a few physicians and clerks were obtained by private contract; and the whole was controlled and registered by a system of returns and a few general regulations. The meeting of the Legislature in November raised the question of continuing the status established for freedmen by the regulations of the Bureau, and developed a formidable party, determined to enjoy the unpaid labor which slavery had allowed, without even the obligations of maintenance which that system had imposed. These found strength in the refusal of so many freedmen to work or contract before Christmas, the result being an angry and despondent public feeling that they would never work at all unless compelled by special legislation. Preparation for planting begins with the New Year, and the holidays being the universal season of arrangement, a recess of thirty days from the fifteenth of December was resolved upon. On the eve of adjournment, the freedmen holding out and the pressure accumulating, a series of bills passed, referring exclusively to freedmen, and which restored all of slavery that was oppressive, except the sale of persons, while it removed all of its individual responsibilities. "Ten thousand copies for immediate distribution" were ordered to be printed, without doubt of executive approval, and with the apparent intention of inaugurating a general seizure. At the same time the traditional fear of a Christmas insurrection was revived in an exaggerated form, not altogether without reason why it should occur. To meet the emergency presented, the following circular was issued from this office: "The prospective interval of thirty days in the present session of the General Assembly, makes it proper to remind the judicial officers and magistrates of this State, that their duty to act as the agents of this Bureau, for the administration of justice, continues by constitutional provision, till the CLOSE of the session." "Meanwhile, their oath of office, to support the Constitution of the State, and the 'regulations heretofore prescribed,' which, for the time being, form a part of it, requires them to continue 'in every case to which a freedman is a party,' to 'take for their method of procedure, the
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