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[[Left Page]] 16 State Commissioner, both known to me as eminently trustworthy and well informed, must be the guardians of this people, and their requisition be met, unless a decided variance from the result of my own investigations dictated an appeal to superior headquarters. Accordingly, at the request of both these officers, and in compliance with the resolution of the House, and the indications of want above referred to, the estimate of May was raised to twenty thousand rations, and that for June to twenty-five thousand. In the latter case, official statements from the Governor and the Commissioner were addressed to me, published, and forwarded to your office. At the same time, repeated efforts to negotiate State bonds having failed, the Governor went in person to St. Louis, and there succeeded in procuring by their use, and by voluntary contributions, about fifty thousand bushels of corn, and a few hogsheads of bacon. It had been supposed that with the incoming grain crop the issue of rations might be nearly or quite discontinued. The crop, however, so far failed as to dispel this prospect, but the ripening ears, with other vegetables, and the incoming supplies purchased by the Governor, seemed to warrant a reduction, which was made, to fifteen thousand for July, and to ten thousand for August and for September. The supplies procured by the Governor were distributed throughout these months. In compliance with your circular of August 22d, the issue of rations has, since the 1st of October, been restricted to the inmates of asylums and hospitals, the State authorities being notified of the same some weeks in advance of that date. The correspondence which ensued, the urgent request of the Governor, your recommendation, and my own, resulted in the order of the Secretary of war, sent to me with your instructions in detail, for the purchase of corn and bacon for issue to the destitute of this State, to the extent of forty thousand dollars monthly, for three months. Brevet [[Right Page]] 17 Major William A. Elderkin, of the Subsistence Department of the Army, has been charged with providing the articles required, and the regulations for their further distribution have been forwarded for your approval. Another difficulty which was met at the opening of the New Year grew out of the fact that, during the jubilee occasioned by the coming of our troops, various acts, either really criminal, or, being done in their aid, only technically so, were committed by the freedmen under the impulse of the moment. Almost the first act of the restored civil courts was to treat these with great rigor, crowding the jails with freedmen, generally the victims of excitement, and in many cases of a desire to help the struggle for the Union. To permit the latter class so to suffer was intolerable, yet there was no way to distinguish between good and evil, for want of testimony, and from the prisoners' very helplessness. Finally, upon suggesting to the Governor that, as a long step towards peace, the amnesty extended by the Government be repeated by the State, it was found that his own mind was already prompted in the same direction, by the multitudinous indictments in the several counties, of Union men or the reverse, according to political complexion. With entire singleness of purpose, the freedmen were readily included in this plan of amnesty, and on the 13th of February was announced the pardon of ALL "offences committed against the laws of this State,––the crimes of rape and murder excepted––between the commencement of hostilities on the 13th of April, 1861, and the restoration of civil government by the Proclamation of his Excellency, the Provisional Governor of Alabama, on the 20th day of July, 1865." By this act, it is considered that about eight hundred freedmen, confined for penitentiary offences, were restored to industry and freedom. Severe reprehension was at first visited upon the measure, but from no quarter has complaint of its operation been received, and it is 3
Initial reader suggested "Elderxin" for the Major's name (note page tear that makes it difficult to read), but I looked up and found a Major by the name of "Eldrekin" and suggest this is the more likely name.