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laws NOW in force in this State, except so far as those laws make a distinction on account of color.'"

The Executive signature being no longer an immediate necessity, was, amid some excitement, postponed until after the recess, when, the freedmen having meanwhile gone to work, the bills were successively voted, and the veto sustained in each instance by a majority vote. The stand taken by the Executive, with this result, prevented any further attempt at extended class legislation.

Although a principle was gained, yet the desire for unchecked control of labor was not set at rest, and the energy of private interest was still too much for the sense of public good.  The close of the session left on the statute book a "vagrant law" which provided chain-gangs and the county jail for whoever should "loiter" at work, or desert a labor contract.  At the same time, the "stay law" was so framed as to postpone the collection of wages, practically without limit.  These laws furnished to their advocates what was desired, and it would be difficult to tell the wickedness to which they have been and still are instrumental.

No reference to color was expressed in terms, but in practice the distinction is invariable.

The first of these laws was believed by the Legislature to have been superseded by the "Penal Code" passed later, and with more humane provisions; but when the Code appeared, the vagrant law was published with it, and the doubt expressed by the Reporter is always resolved against the weak.

The reduction of the volunteer force, at a time when nothing could be done without its presence, compelled the gradual abandonment of stations.  Early in the New Year, the only ones of importance which remained were those which, with the help of a few officers from the Veteran Reserve Corps, and latterly from the Fifteenth United States Infantry, we have been able to maintain as permanent centres of Bureau operations.


They are now officered as follows:

Montgomery.........................Capt. L.J. WHITING, V.R.C.
Mobile..................B'v't Maj. G.H. TRACY, 15th U.S. Inf.
Huntsville.....................B'v't Col. J.B. CALLIS, V.R.C.
Selma.......................Lt. GEO. SHORKLEY, 15th U.S. Inf.
Greenville....JAS. F. MCGOGY, late 1st Lt. B'v't Capt. U.S.A.
Tuscaloosa..........................Capt. W.H.H. PECK. V.R.C.
Talladega...........Act'g Ass't Surg. J.W. BURKHOLDER, U.S.A.
Demopolis......................B'v't Maj. C.W. PIERCE, V.R.C.

With the beginning of the new year, also, an effort was matured to extend the supply of rations to the destitute.  Aside from the cost of sending a special agent to each county was their liability, as irresponsible strangers, to imposition, misrepresentation, and even to misconduct.  The stations of the Bureau, enumerated above, were therefore made principal depots, and an officer at each was put in connection with the Subsistence Department of the Army.  The State Commissioner was then charged with providing, in each county, through the overseers of the poor, a respectable citizen, who should draw from the Depot to which his county was assigned, such monthly quota as the Commissioner should determine.  The basis of this quota was an aggregate fixed on as the estimate for the month, in conference between the Governor, the State Commissioner and myself.  Transportation from the Depot was left the counties to provide.  These were authorized by law to issue bonds for this purpose, but being generally without money or public credit, availed themselves of the gratuitous services of the railroads, or of a private contract with some citizen who could wait. 

The quota so drawn was distributed under the supervision of the State Commissioner.  The securities of this system were, the neighborhood responsibility of the agents, the interest of the overseers of the poor, and such scrutiny as the Bureau and State Commissioner could maintain.  It was necessarily liable to irregularities and some abuse.  

Its operation for eleven months is thus presented: