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Ansel Kinne to Col. T. W. Osborn
Tour of Inspection Report
October 15, 1866
Freedmen Bureau Records
October 15, 1866

Col T. W. Osborn
1
Asst. Com. Bureau R. F. & A. L.

Sir,

I have the honor to submit the following Report as the result of observations made during a tour
of inspection in the "4th district of East Florida Embracing the counties of Nassau, Duval, St.
Johns, Clay Putnam, Marion, Sumpter and Hernando."
2

It affords me great pleasure to be able to report that the officers and people on whom I called,
uniformly received me with kindness, and communicated any information desired with
commendable frankness. In the plan of my report I have chosen not to follow the order of notes as
found in my diary, as such a course would involve much useless repetition both of language and
facts.

The propriety of such arrangements will be manifest when it is known that there is much uniformity
of practices in the counties which compose the "4th District" and which were visited by me.

Condition of Freedmen
The condition of the freedmen is generally better than expected. Instead of finding them
wandering from place to place, or idling, they were generally employed on the plantations, in
mechanical labor or as house servants.

Very generally written contracts had been entered into between Employers and Employees - with
a disposition on the part of Each to meet the conditions of such contracts.

The division of the last year's crop, though in some cases not fairly done, has given pretty
general satisfaction and in many cases not fairly done, has given pretty general satisfaction and
in many cases enables the freedmen to supply themselves with food for the ensuing year. From
information gathered from various sources, without actual and formal investigation the conclusion
is irresistibly reached that subsequent to the suspension of hostilities and the Surrender, the
freedmen did not generally labor as faithfully as before the surrender and hence the crops
suffered, resulting in the diminution of the amount which might otherwise have been reasonably
expected. Still in many cases very good crops were realized and whenever the division was
equitably made in such cases the share to the freedmen has been such as to enable them to
subsist for the present year.

It was found that those freedmen, who had been fairly dealt with both in humane treatment and an
equitable division of the crops, were dilligently and contentedly laboring for their former masters
under contracts - while those who were otherwise treated, or supposed themselves to be, were
separated, by, sometimes their own choice and sometimes by the choice of the employer, from
the old plantation and either laboring for others men know, from general reputation, the character
of the neighboring planters - so that they are found with those whom they have chosen to labor
for. Said one influential planter, "the Negroes have a kind of telegraph by which they know all
about the treatment of the Negroes on the plantations for a great distance around." I judge they
avail themselves of this knowledge in the choice of their employers. Indeed so certain and sudden
is the retribution, that I found some large planters who were unable to employ a single
laborer-their broad fields...doomed to be uncultivated...the present season-while others more
favorably known, are able to obtain all the help, and more, than they can employ. While this state
of things is everywhere existant, there is on the whole a want of laborers. Where there is one
planter who has engaged more than his complement, there are two who can not obtain so many
as they want. the question naturally arises, where are the laborers? After much inquiry I came to
this conclusion. the want is traceable to the following.

1st - Many Small farmers, hitherto unable to own a laborer, is able now to hire one or two-and
these in the aggregate, amount to many.

2nd - A few planters are engaging rather more than their usual number.

3rd - Some are engaging in lumbering, and by the liberal wages they are offering are taking from
their accustomed places many freedmen who otherwise would be planting.`

4th - Another cause is found in the fact that so many are desirous of collecting and living about
villages and cities.

5th - Allow me to suggest one other cause which may, or may not be operating more or less
remotely in producing this result. Freedmen are not infrequently sent or enticed away and do not
return. Their friends and employers insitute a search without success. I have some grounds for
believing that many meet with violence.  I am also fearful that others meet with a still worse fate -
that they are decoyed away under various pretenses for the real purpose of sending them to a
market-perhaps to Cuba.

The wants of the District through which my tour let me, clearly indicated that not an able bodied
man or woman need be idle for want of labor.

This want of labor compels many person, hitherto unused to labor to rely upon their own personal
efforts for a maintenance of their families, and it is nearly wonderful that so many of this class are
found so cheerfully yielding to the necessities of the situation.

With reference to the clothing of the freedmen, my testimony is not flattering; yet relatively it
compares not very unfavorable with that of the poor whites.

Whether in quality or quantity the freedmen's clothing is Equal to that of the Slave I know not, but
the opportunities I have had for observation assure me that it is inadequate to the wants of any
people - certainly not for a people having been going through a process of civilization and
christianization for two or three hundred years. But there will be less actual suffering than I have
expected to witness.

Contracts3
In some counties very few contracts have been made. In others very generally the laborers are
working under contract, witnessed by the Judge of Probate.
4

On examination of these contracts it is found that though generally fair in the conditions some
were very unfair and such as to render it impossible for the laborer to comply with them and not
be greatly in debt at the close of the year.

Whatever may be the conditions of these contracts or the intentions of those making them, there
is room for trouble in their final settlement and unless great care and supervision are exercised
justice will be cheated. There is so wide a difference between employer and employee, in respect
to their ability to transact ordinary business and to comprehend the forec of a contract, and so
great a desire rapidly to repair losses and regain fortunes, and withal so little desire on the part of
employers to see the freedmen rise in any respect, that unless an enlarged benevolence is to
govern in the settlement at the close of the year, little will have been accomplished for the colored
man except to arouse him from a not too trusting confidence to an unpleasant and inconquerable
suspicion. the officers appointed to act as agents in the several counties of the state seem willing
to do as well as they know how, but in some counties but little attention is given to any of the
duties of the office of Judge of Probate - certainly little as the agents of the Bureau.

Schools
Total number of children in colored schools............................................................................990
Total number of children in white schools
5...............................................................................172
Total number of teachers in col'd schools................................................................................ 17
Total number of teachers in white schools...............................................................................   4

At Fernandina there is an asylum
5 for orphan children. this institution was opened in the winter of
sixty four in the building formerly owned by Joseph Finegan. It is under the care and support of
the National Freedmen's Relief Association of New York. The Superintendent, Miss Chloe
Merrick
6, with Miss Johnson7 as assistant are laboring with a commendable zeal. Fifty children,
gathered from various parts, are here clother instructied and fed, and made to feel neither want
or orphanage.
8

Crops
So broken and disarranged have been the system and practices of farming during the past few
years, that no very definite information as to the relative amount of crops raised...can be given.
Such was the restriction on cotton growing placed upon the planters by the Rebel Congress that
very little cotton has been raised the past year, and in the districts of Eastern Florida, the working
force has been so irregular that it was really difficult to obtain any positive and reliable information.
But from repeated inquiries and comparing results the average amount of cotton to the acre is not
seventy five pounds, while the range is from fifty to four hundred pounds.

So with corn, the average is believed to be not more than Eight bushels to the acre while the
range is from five to sixty.

In respect to sugar cane there does not appear to be so great a difference, the reason I judge to
be, that only a comparatively small amount of land is thus appropriated, and that little of the very
best quality. From two to four barrels of sugar aor from six to twelve barrels of syrup to the acre is
about a just statement.

Of all the country through which we passed I do not think more than one tenth would be regarded
such as to reward well the labor of the tiller of its soil, while not one hundredth part of the country
passed through is under any attempt at cultivation.

Lumbering
Along the banks of the St. Johns River and the gulf coast of the County of Hernando, something
is being done or proposed to be done this year, but very little or nothing during the last.

At present prices, lumbering promises the best and readiest return of any business.

Twelve dollars per thousand is given for lumber delivered in the log at the mill.

Lumber, selling at thirty dollars per thousand, enables all parties to realize large profits, and pay
high prices for labor at the same time. Of course these profits will be proportionate to the
nearness and facility of market.

Moral Condition of the People
This is the gloomiest picture to behold.

Physical decay and devastation, consequent upon the war-ruined and deserted
homes-prostration of business - hoplessness of the future-bereavement of those too poor...to
purchase the habilitments of mourning. - too proud to confess the guilt that caused their grief,
and too hateful to love what they can not possess - these and such as these, are the burdens,
self-imposed, of the people of the district through which I passed. I speak of the masses. True
there are exceptions, but none have entirely escaped.

Present pressing demands of natural wants will stimulate action and energy in a people, whose
moral condition is measurably unimpaired. But the remedies for this condition, it seems to me lie
beyond the reach of the people we commiserate. Without any school system, without a pure
gosepl - this people have lived and suffered up to the time of the Rebellion, and since that time
have experienced more than a want of these. In one county, known to be loyal, there has not
been a sermon preached in four years. From observations and information carefully gathered, I
have formed...the deliberate opinion that the next to the last thing that will be reconstructed, in
this portion of the State, will be the school system, and the last, will be the religious organizations.

Dissatisfied, as many may be, with the present status of these vital interests, they desire to be let
alone. Public opinion, as measured by numerious private and individual opinions, is set against
any and all efforts on the part of Northern individuals and associations, to ameliorate or
reconstruct.

They would doubtless accept of pecuniary aid, if so proffered as not to place them in the seeming
attitude of beneficiaries. Such is the spirit of the people, generally that the promise, to "the poor in
spirit" must be with conditions. They are not poor in Spirit!

Occasionally some persons offer to open a school for the children of the white people, but too
often this is done by persons whose qualifications for such work are either unknown or
insufficient. and this is the best that can be hopef for, for a long time. The few ministers, resident,
are an insufficient supply for the great demand herein indicated. The condition of the poorer class
of whites is as deplorable as that of the blacks.

Remove from off the freedman the bitter hate and prejudice which seems to be intensified now
that he is free, and his condition will be rapidly improved. He is poor. He has always been poor,
hence does not feel his poverty. He is hopeful because free. Hopeful of the future, for the means
of education which he has heard is open to him - for the right to life and property which he
supposes in involved in his lately acquired freedom. These stimulants to him, operate inverserly
to the white laborer and excite their jealousy if not hatred.

My observations impel me to state before closing this report, that the ends of justice to the
freedment can be met only by a wise and careful watchfulness of his interests by those who are
his firends, who believe in his humanity, and who will steadily, wisely and persistently push aside
that prejudice which now jeopardizes the rights which his humanity involves.

Respectfully submitted
A. E. Kinne
Agt. B.R.F. & A.L.


Notes
Ansel E. Kinne
- (from Syracuse, New York where he had been a school principal)  was
supposedly appointed by Secretary of War Stanton as Superintendent of Schools for Florida in
the pre-Freedmen's Bureau era which would have placed him under
General Saxton in the
Department of the South. But from it appears from the June 1866 document to have been limited
to
National Freedmen's Relief Association Schools since he did not recognize the American
Missionary schools in this report.   He was the brother-in-law of  Chloe Merrick the teacher at
Fernandina who established the Asylum. (She would later marry Harrison Reed, Florda's
Reconstruction Governor.) He resigned his post of Superintendent before the end of 1866. In this
report he is listed  as an agent of the Freedmen's Bureau..

1.
Col. Thomas W. Osborn was the Assistant Commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau in
Florida from September 13, 1865 to June 11, 1866. He had been General Saxton's original sub
assistant commissioner for Florida but he had been injured in a railroad accident and had taken
some time to report. He was from Scotch Plains, New Jersery and had earned a degree from
Madison University (Colgate)  in New York. He became a member of the New York bar in 1861.

In the War of the Rebellion he was an artillery officer in Battery  D, 1st New York Light Artillery.  
He served with General O. O. Howard in the XI Corps.

In reconstruction politics he would represent the right wing of the Republican party and made
several unsuccessful attempts to recall Governor Harrison Reed. He became a U. S. Senator from
Florida for one term 1868-1873.

He died in New York in 1898.

2. The fifth district was the southern pensula of Florida and he had assigned Lieut Col George F.
Thompson and William H. Gleason to this area.

3. In Contracts  General Saxton worked on this same problem with a model contract that he
promoted in December, 1865 (See
General Saxton's labor contract)

4. By promoting the potential for non-standard contracts the ability to manipulate contracts was
simply in favor of the planter and others who had the background necessary to understand the
contracts.

5. One can see that the Freedmen Bureau schools were going to be a great encouragement to
the building of a public school system as poor whites would look at the educational advantage
being given the former slaves. In St. Augustine the Freedmen school building would be the best
building in the state (with Stanton Normal School). The white public school started as a small
building built in 1859.

6. This orphan asylum was run by Chloe Merrick...his sister-in-law.

7. Abbie W. Johnson from Massachusetts. She was the matron of the asylum.

8. General Joseph Finegan who received a pardon from Andrew Johnson recovered his house
which had not been made final in the Tax sale.
Col. T. W. Osborn
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