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.