War of the Rebellion: Serial 021 Page 0667 Chapter XXVII. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. - UNION.

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of Louisiana which are not to be affected by its provisions. The laws of the United States, however, forbid officers of the Army and Navy to return slaves to their owners or to decide upon the claims of any person to the service or labor of another, and the inevitable conditions of a state of war unavoidably deprive all classes of citizens of much of that absolute freedom of action and control of property which local law and the continued peace of the country guaranteed and secured to them. The forcible seizure of fugitives from service or labor by their owners is inconsistent with these laws and conditions, inasmuch as it leads to personal violence and the disturbance of the public peace and it cannot be permitted. Officers and soldiers will not encourage or assist slaves to leave their employers, but they cannot compel or authorize their return by force.

The public interest peremptorily demands that all persons without other means of support be required to maintain themselves by labor. Negroes are not exempt from this law. Those who leave their employers will be compelled to support themselves and families by labor upon the public works. Under no circumstances whatever can they be maintained in idleness, or allowed to wander through the parishes and cities of the State without employment. Vagrancy and crime will be suppressed by enforced and constant occupation and employment.

Upon every consideration labor is entitled to some equitable proportion of the corps it produces. To secure the objects both of capital and labor the sequestration commission is hereby authorized and directed, upon conference with planters and other parties, to propose and establish a yearly system of negro labor, which shall provide for the food, clothing, proper treatment, and just compensation for the negroes, at fixed rates or an equitable proportion of the yearly crop, as may be deemed advisable. It should be just, but not exorbitant or onerous. When accepted by the planter or other parties all the conditions of continuous and faithful service, respectful deportment, correct discipline, and perfect subordination shall be enforced on the part of the negroes by the officers of the Government. To secure their payment the wages of labor will constitute a lien upon its products.

This may not be the best, but it is now the only practicable system. Wise men will do what they can when they cannot do what they would. It is the law of success. In three years from the restoration of peace, under this voluntary system of labor, the State of Louisiana will produce threefold the product of its most prosperous year in the past.

The quartermaster's department is charged with the duty of harvesting corn on deserted fields and cultivating abandoned estates. Unemployed negroes will be engaged in this service under the control of suitable agents or planters, with a just compensation in food, clothing, and money, consistent with the terms agreed upon by the commission, and under such regulations as will tend to keep families together, to impart self-supporting habits to the negroes, and protect the best interest of the people and the Government.

By command of Major-General Banks:


Lieutenant-Colonel, Assistant Adjutant-General.



Whereas on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our