|Circular No. 2 - Col. Thomas Osborn
Rations and Labor Contracts
September 21, 1865
Freedmen Bureau Records
Office Of Assistant Commissioner, Bureau Of Refugees, Freedmen, And Abandoned Lands,
Tallahassee, Fla., September 21, 1865.
I. All officers acting under instructions of the assistant commissioner of Bureau Refugees, Freedmen, and
Abandoned Lands, in compliance with General Orders No. 30, headquarters department of Florida, will
immediately send to this office a statement of the number of rations which have been or will be issued to
destitute loyal refugees and freedmen for the month of September. Also a requisition for the number of
rations that will be required for issue to indigent freedmen only for the quarter commencing October 1,
II. A letter of advice will be forwarded to this office immediately for the month of September, and on the
15th of each subsequent month, giving, as near as possible, answers to the following questions, viz:
1. "What is the number of freedmen within his command?
2. How large a proportion of them are laboring under written and approved contracts?
3. What is the average of monthly wages; or where a portiou of the crop is stipulated as compensation,
what proportion do they receive'!
4. Are the freedmen contented?
5. Do they work well?
6. Are the freedmen disposed to collect in communities and about towns?
7. Are they disposed to steal?
8. What is the spirit of the employers displayed towards the laborers? And other information which you
may be able to give will ass'st in the future management of the bureau.
III. Officers will take every precaution in their power to prevent freedmen from collecting about towns,
military posts, railroad depots, or in isolated communities, with an apparent intention of escaping labor on
the plantations. It should be constantly borne in mind that the labor of the freedmen is most profitable to
himself as well as to the producer where the labor can be made to yield the largest return, which, as a
general rule, is on the plantation, or in the lumbering business.
IV. Officers acting under instructions from this bureau will not give to freedmen requisitions on the United
States quartermaster for government transportation, except in those cases where the officer is willing to
certify that he considers it an absolute necessity that such transportation should be given, and that the
person receiving it has no other means of procuring it.
V. Officers will report what abandoned lands (within the meaning of par. IV of the act of Congress,
March 3, 1865, organizing this bureau) or real estate they may have knowledge of in the limits of their
commands, or real estate which has been occupied by military authority for any purpose a sufficient
length of time to give prima facie evidence of actual possession by the government of the United States
VI. When officers learn that no contracts have been made between freedmen and their employers for the
labor of this year, they will see that such contracts are made immediately as will provide for the
compensation of the labor of this year. Also, where contracts nave been made by which evident injustice
is done either party, the contracts will be cancelled, and such contracts made as will do justice to all
parties. Every such action will be reported at once to this bureau for confirmation.
T. W. OSBORN. Col. and Ass't Comm'r Bureau Refugees, Freedmen. JJr.
Like us on Facebook