Congressional Report
History of the Bureau of Freedmen and Refugees
March 10, 1868
Page 5
Congressional Records
Notes:
1. The Court issue was of particular importance. With the reconstituted courts in the South freedmen
were not allowed to serve on juries or give testimony. The bureau had a variety of tools to meet this
problem with their own courts, provost courts, boards of arbitration, and military commissions. While
slavery had ended attempts were made to re-institute various forms of slavery. Especially troubling was
the binding out of children as apprentices which amounted to virtual slavery for children.

The 1866 reauthorization act in section 14 issued the Congressional rules for the Freedmen's bureau
courts: "And be it further enacted, That in every State or district where the ordinary course of judicial
proceedings has been interrupted by the rebellion, and until the same shall be fully restored, and in every
State or district whose constitutional relations to the government have been practically discontinued by
the rebellion, and until such State shall have been restored in such relations, and shall be duly represented
in the Congress of the United States, the right to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, and give
evidence, to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property, and to have full
and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings concerning personal liberty, personal security, and the
acquisition, enjoyment, and disposition of estate, real and personal, including the constitutional right to
bear arms, shall be secured to and enjoyed by all the citizens of such State or district without respect to
race or color, or previous condition of slavery. And whenever in either of said States or districts the
ordinary course of judicial proceedings has been interrupted by the rebellion, and until the same shall be
fully restored, and until such State shall have been restored in its constitutional relations to the
government, and shall be duly represented in the Congress of the United States, the President,shall
through the commissioner and the officers of the bureau, and under such rules and regulations as the
President, through the Secretary of War, shall prescribe, extend military protection and have military
jurisdiction over all cases and questions concerning the free enjoyment of such immunities and rights, and
no penalty or punishment for any violation of law shall be imposed or permitted because of race or color,
or previous condition of slavery, other or greater than the penalty or punishment to which white persons
may be liable by law for the like offence. But the jurisdiction conferred by this section upon the officers
of the bureau shall not exist in any State where the ordinary course of judicial proceedings has not been
interrupted by the rebellion, and shall cease in every State when the courts of the State and the United
States are not disturbed in the peaceable course of justice, and after such State shall be fully restored in
its constitutional relations to the government, and shall be duly represented in the Congress of the United
States."

No bureau courts in Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia or Delaware.
As each state was restored the Bureau would no longer have court jurisdiction. After the Bureau had
expired the military would still have some level of jurisdiction until 1870.

Tennessee – July 24, 1866
Arkansas – June 22, 1868
Florida – June 25, 1868
North Carolina – July 4, 1868
South Carolina – July 9, 1868
Louisiana – July 9, 1868
Alabama – July 13, 1868
Virginia – January 26, 1870
Mississippi – February 23, 1870
Texas – March 30, 1870
Georgia – July 15, 1870


2.
Eliphalet Whittlesey (1821-September 30, 1909) was born May 14, 1821, at New Britain,
Connecticut, to Deacon David and Rebecca (Smalley) Whittlesey. Graduating in 1842 from Yale, he
taught school in Alabama, studied theology at Yale and Andover Seminary, and was made pastor of the
Central Congregational Church at Bath, Maine, in 1851. He served on the staff of General O. O.
Howard, starting as a Chaplain and rising to the rank of major for gallant conduct. Back with his students
at Bowdoin College for one year, Whittlesey returned to military service in 1864, mustering out in 1868
with the rank of brevet brigadier-general. He then served as adjutant-general of the Freedman's Bureau.
A court martial was attempted against him in 1866 where he was exonerated in a court-martial trial, and
Gen. Howard brought him to bureau headquarters in Washington, DC. Whittlesey was acting director of
the bureau when Congress ended it in 1872 He helped establish Howard University, and served as a
professor of rhetoric and English literature there. He served for twenty-five years Secretary of the Board
of Indian Commissioners. He was a corporate member of the American Board of Commissioners for
Foreign Missions; a member of the National Geographic Society;  Military Order of the Loyal Legion of
the United States; and the Grand Army of the Republic He is buried in Arlington Cemetery.

3. See General Saxton's
Circular No. 4 for a Freedmen Bureau approved Indenture Certificate.

Indexing Terms:
North Carolina, General Whittlesey, Eliphalet Whittlesey, New Britain, Connecticut, Deacon David
Whittlesey, Rebecca Smalley, Rebecca Whittlesey, Yale, Alabama, Andover Seminary, Central
Congregational Church, Bath Maine, General O. O. Howard, Bowdoin, Washington D. C., Howard
University, Secretary of the Board of Indian Commissioners, American Board of Commissioners for
Foreign Missions, National Geographic Society, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States,
Grand Army of the Republic, Arlington Cemetery, Bureau of Freedmen and Refugees, Major General
Howard, bureau courts, provost courts, boards of arbitration, military commissions, apprentices.
Department of the South
Port Royal Experiment
USCT Bounties
Freedmen's Aid Societies
Bureau Educational Activities
Freedmen Bureau Education
Assorted Documents
Freedmen's Bureau Table of
Contents
Freedmen's Bureau Assorted
Documents
 
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