Return to Assorted Documents of the Freedmen's Bureau
General O. O. Howard
Circular No. 2
May 19, 1865
Freedmen's Bureau Records
South Carolina, Georgia, And Florida,

Beaufort, S. C, June 26, 1865.

The following circular from headquarters of Freedmen's Bureau is republished for the information
of all general and assistant superintendents, and others interested, in ihe States of South
Carolina, Georgia, and Florida:

[Circular No. 2.]

              War Department, Bureau Refugees, Freedmen, And Abandoned Lands, Washington, D.
C, May 19, 1865. By appointment of the President, I assume charge of the "Bureau of Refugees,
Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands."

I. Commissioners will be at once appointed for the insurrectionary States. To them will be intrusted
the supervision of abandoned lands, and the control of all subjects relating to refugees and
freedmen in their respective districts. All agents in the field, however appointed, are requested to
report to them the condition of their work. Refugees and freedmen, not already provided for, will
inform them of their wants. All applications for relief will be referred to them or their agents by post
and district commanders.

II. But it is not the intention of government that this bureau shall supersede the various benevolent
organizations in the work of administering relief. This must still be afforded by the benevolence of
the people through their voluntary societies, no governmental appropriations having been made
for this purpose. The various commissioners will look to the associations laboring in their
respective districts to provide, as heretofore, for the wants of these destitute people. I invite,
therefore, the continuance and co-operation of such societies. I trust they will still be generously
supported by the people, and I request them to send me their names, lists of their principal
officers, and a brief statement of their present work.

III. The demands for labor are sufficient to afford employment to nearly if not quite all the
able-bodied refugees and freedmen. It will be the object of all commissioners to introduce
practicable systems of compensated labor; and to this end they will endeavor to remove the
prejudices of their late masters unwilling to employ their former servants; to correct the false
impressions sometimes entertained by the freedmen that they can live without labor, and to
overcome that false pride which renders some of the refugees niore willing to be supported in
idleness than to support themselves. While a generous provision should be made for the aged,
infirm, and sick, the able-bodied should be encouraged, and, if necessary, compelled to labor for
their support.

IV. The educational and moral condition of these people will not be forgotten. The utmost facility
will be afforded to benevolent and religious organizations and State authorities in the maintenance
of good schools, (for refugees and freedmen,) until a system of free schools can be supported by
the reorganized local governments. Meanwhile, whenever schools are broken up by any
authorized agent of the government, it is requested that the fact and attendant circumstance? be
reported to this bureau.

Let me repeat, that in all this work it is not my purpose to supersede the benevolent agencies
already engaged in it, but to systematize and facilitate them.

0. 0. HOWARD, Major General, Comm'r Bureau Refugees, Freedmen,

Captain and Assistant Adjutant General.

The provisions of the above circular will be carried out by all assistant commissioners and
superintendents in these States, and the co-operation of all benevolent and religious societies,
and also of individuals, is invited to aid the operations of the Freedmen's Bureau.

By order of
R. Saxton, brevet major general, assistant commissioner.

General O. O. Howard
General Rufus Saxton