against the United States to the military tribunals. I transmit inclosed an order covering that point issued to the troops in Missouri. *
I trust that Your Excellency will pardon me for repeating with all emphasis that the feeling of stability is necessary for the success of any policy, and that no policy inaugurated by military authority, depending necessarily upon the will of military commanders and not upon law for its permanency, can possibly secure the necessary confidence on the part of the people concerned.
Upon this conviction it is, more than upon any other reason, that I base my opinion that the attempts to define the status of freedmen in the insurrectionary States and to establish system of labor (compensated or otherwise), originated and controlled by military commanders, can never succeed. The white man looks upon them as temporary and uncertain. Even the negro has a similar feeling of distrust, and both white and negro seek to make the most of what in its nature cannot be lasting. Knowing that system of compensated labor of the blacks established by military authority cannot long remain in force, the white man who employs negroes under such a system seeks to exact everything he possibly can from the negro and avoid, as far as practicable, his own obligations. There is no statute law on the subject defining accurately the relations and obligations of the contracting parties, and no tribunals established to enforce the contracts by legal remedies. The method pursued (and it is the only method practicable under military rule) is to devolve the management of all matters pertaining to this subject upon provost-marshals or other military agents. As such persons can be but little known to the commanding general (as they come from a distance and are strangers to the States in which they are employed and to the customs of the people whom they are designated to control, and stranger still to any knowledge of law), much mismanagement, even with the most honest intentions, must necessarily be expected. But when, in addition, it is considered that in many cases the obscure persons selected are not honest to begin with, and that others disposed to be true are subject to all manner of temptation with little fear of detection, the hope that any such system can be fairly conducted must indeed be faint even with the most sanguine. It is not necessary to enter into details to illustrate the foregoing remarks. I presume there are in possession of Your Excellency abundant facts to corroborate much more than is here implied.
The remedy seems to me plain. To a certain extent the emancipated negroes must be taken under the general protection of the Federal Government. Their freedom must be made a reality, and no man or State government must interfere with it. Laws of Congress can provide against such danger to the negro, and can readily prevent the re-establishment of any system of servitude, however modified, or under whatever name. The relation of these freedmen to the State governments and their political status are matters for civil and not military jurisdiction. Either their political privileges must be defined by the State legislation under which they live, or the General Government must assume to determine them in the case of all men, black or white, who live within the limits of the Federal Union. With such questions military officers have nothing to do, and should not be permitted to interfere.
It would seem that the duty and in fact the power of the General Government extends no further that to secure and perpetuate the entire
* See Special Orders, Numbers 15, March 17, Part I, p. 1202.