South Carolina Freedmen to the Freedmen's Bureau Commissioner

Georgetown [S.C.]  Jen 17 1866

Hond and Respec Sir   us A fue Names of the Colard Citason of Georgetown So Ca have taken upon our Self to make inquirey of you for those roundabout us who are not Able to do it for them Self.

that is to give you information as redards to the present state of arfairs in this D.C. [District]

Dear Sir thare is A gratedel of Sufferings in this DC which makes us all morn and wonder what will be   Sir we See it published in the news papers that the freed in S.C wonte work thay wont make contrack with thare former oners.

Hon Sir it is Not so in this DC.

Gen the Boot is on the other leg   it do Appeare that the heave former oners with one acord detarman not to let the freedman work.  thare have been Severl contrack oferd in this DC to intollarable to comply worst than Slavery, tharefore the majorty of the freedman Refuse to Sine the Contrack neither wod the manority go forward,

thay then Solected the Coldes Night to order them of their places,  some where order to leive before the son rose a nother day,  men women & children, old & indigent had to take the woods,

Oh sir tell us if that is for the wonte of wisdom on the part of the freedman or if its Justis on the part of the former owner,

some have been order away without their part of crop that thay made last year,

thare former owners say they must have oversere & driveres which brings horrour to the minds of the freedman,

Gen the people wont to work   they are willing to work   they are redy to work & will work, as sure as a liveing offerd is made, to them   their are very much trubeld that the season is flying away and no provagon is being made in this D,C,

some have offerd contrack that the freedman must be subjet to eny law that thay make & thay will give forty bushels to them out of one hunderd and take sixty bushels themselves,  they must not leeve their places without permishon,  at 12 oc'lock in the d they will be alowd one hour for breckfast   they must not have poltry of eny kind or beast or anamal of eny kind,  they must not plant a seed of eny kind fore themselves   the fenceing of they Houses must be taken away,

some say the old indegent & young must leive   if a man is not able to work and his wife is he must leive   if the wife is not able she must leive

Gen we know these things to be so   therefore we have concluded to inquire of you about the matter if such thing are rite if such things are aloude if such things will be a loude, and fore the reporte to continure to sprede through the whorld that the freedman wonte woork,

Gen Your humble Servant will consider it a great favor if you will give us some light upon the subject,  With hon & much respect we remain your humble Servants
J. B. Carr D. J. Wilson
Edwd. L. Rainey S. Johns[on]
E. C. Rainey. Parris Dennison
A. J. Jackson T. D. Paulley
Samuel Johnson J. H. Sheckelfod–
[R]. C. Wilson and others

if it Should plese the to Reply dyrect to the above name J. B. Carr

J. B. Carr et al. to Maj Gen O. O. Howard, 17 Jan. 1866, filed as S-54 1866, Letters Received, series 15, Washington Headquarters, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives. The petition and Carr's signature are in the same handwriting; each of the other signatures appears to be in a different hand. Endorsements indicate that the commissioner's headquarters initially referred the petition to the bureau's assistant commissioner for the District of Columbia, having mistakenly assumed that it originated from Georgetown, D.C., rather than from the Georgetown District of South Carolina. On January 31, 1866, after the error was discovered, the petition was referred to General Robert K. Scott, assistant commissioner for South Carolina. Subsequent endorsements have become detached from the freedmen's petition, but entries in the assistant commissioner's letters-received register and endorsement book indicate that on February 7 the petition was referred to Colonel Benjamin F. Smith, the bureau's acting subassistant commissioner at Georgetown, who endorsed it as follows: “Orders from Superior Hd Qrs regulate matters complained of within; attention is respectfully invited to Contracts forwarded from these Hd qrs which do not show the state of affairs as stated within.” Finally, on February 27, General Scott returned the petition to the bureau's headquarters in Washington, calling the commissioner's attention to Smith's endorsement. (Vol. 3, p. 304, Registers of Letters Received, series 2921, SC Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives; vol. 19, pp. 52, 82, Endorsements Sent, series 2919, SC Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives.)

Published in Land and Labor, 1865, pp. 990–94.