Freedmen's Bureau Assistant Superintendent for Cumberland County, North Carolina, to the Freedmen's Bureau Superintendent of the Southern District of North Carolina

Fayetteville, N.C.  July 31st 1866.

Sir   I would Respectfully represent that the law up on which I have given the Freedmen advise upon, in regard to taxes–, Says that evry taxable poll, shall be taxed One Dollar, and makes it incumbent upon the owner of the land where the Freedman lives to pay the tax.–1  The Sheriff of this County informs me that the same law makes it incumbent upon the owners of land where Freedmen live to Stop back the amount of all taxes, which amounts to Some Five, Six or Eight Dollars,– and as soon as a Freedman has workd enough to come to six or Eight Dollars, either in Terpentine or on a farm it is Stoped against him for taxes, and the result is that many quit, and Some even leave their crops.  it looks to me vry burthensome.–  The highway tax is anouther source of annoyance.

My opinion is, as the matter stands, that the Freedman pays more than his Share of taxes.

He has been out of bondage a little over Fifteen Months, and now he is subject to a tax of from Five to Eight Dollars, when he may not have one meal of victuals in his house or a coat on his back, and yet if he works for any one to the amount of Five or Eight Dollars it is stoped back from his pay, and he goes begging or stealing–

I would Respectfully ask if the Burea[u] takes any cognizance of the matter of taxes, or in other words, if a man has taken from the Freedman more than One Dollar, as the law Expressly says–will he be compelld to refund.

I know of no law which authorises the stoping of more than One Dollar.  Vry Respectfully Your Obt. servt,

Justin Hodge,

[Endorsement]  Bu– R.F. and A.L.– Hd. Qrs. So. Dist of N.C. Wilmington. N.C. 2nd August 1866   Respectfully refered to Major General Robinson, Asst Commissioner, for instructions

I would state that the so called Poll Tax is very oppressive on the Freedmen as they are obliged to pay in different Counties, from Two Dollars ($2.00) to Eight Dols. ($8.00)   Allan Rutherford Lt. Col. V.R.C. (Bvt. Brig. Gen'l. US.V.) Supt. So. Dist N.C.

[Endorsement]  Bureau Refugees F & A Lands  Hd Qrs Asst. Commr No Ca  Raleigh [N.C.]  August 4 1866   Respectfully returned.  By the Laws of the State the Capitation Tax is fixed at One Dollar–& the Employer is authorized to pay it for his laborer, and deduct it from any monies due the laborer–  This law will be allowed to be enforced.  No knowledge is had at these Hd Qrs of more than $1.00 Capitation tax being allowed–& if more than that has been paid it should be refunded–  By comd of Bt Maj Gen Robinson Clinton A Cilley AAGenl

Capt. Justin Hodge to Bvt. Brig. Genl. Allan Rutherford, 31 July 1866, Letters Received, series 2892, Wilmington NC Superintendent, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives.

1. The law in question had been enacted on March 12, 1866. It levied a state tax of $1 on “[e]very taxable poll” and provided that anyone who, as of April 1, “shall have any person subject to poll tax as a member of his family, or in his employment, or living on his land or in his house, by consent of the owner of said lands, shall list such person and pay the tax, and may retain the same out of any moneys due him.” (An Act Entitled Revenue, 12 Mar. 1866, Public Laws of the State of North Carolina, Passed by the General Assembly at the Session of 1866 [Raleigh, N.C., 1866], pp. 30–44.) Taxable polls consisted of all free men “between the ages of twenty-one and forty-five years,” except “poor and infirm persons” exempted by county courts. (Revised Code of North Carolina, Enacted by the General Assembly at the Session of 1854 [Boston, 1855], p. 506.)

Published in Land and Labor, 1866–1867, pp. 147–49.