HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF WEST TENNESSEE,
Memphis, Tenn., August 12, 1865.
His Excellency ANDREW JOHNSON,
President of the United States:
SIR: Honorable William Wallace, attorney-general of this judicial district, leaves here for Washington this p.m., who will, as he informs me, call upon you, and at his suggestion I have the honor to address you in relation to some of the subjects of his proposed interview with you. Considering the present condition of the people of the South, brought about by the late rebellion, we have reason to be gratified at the results in the District of West Tennessee. Although these are not altogether such as could be desired, yet a large majority of the people manifest a disposition to return to their allegiance to the Government of the United States. Civil law is gradually resuming its authority in most of the communities, and the recent elections were quietly conducted, no disturbance having been reported to these headquarters. The vote was necessarily light, owing to the restrictions of the franchise law enacted at the last session of the State legislature, and in a few counties no election was held, the people not having had an opportunity of being registered in pursuance of that law. The freedmen's department, under the energetic management of the assistant commissioner, Brigadier General D. Tillson, is being rapidly systemized, and I have no doubt if General Tillson is continued in charge here, which I would recommend, he will have it so perfected in the course of a few months that it will work harmoniously and to the mutual advantage of the planters and freedmen. Most of the planters apparently submit to the new relations resulting form the war, but it will take time to eradicate the prejudices of education and association. In the absence of special instructions, I infer that it is not the intention of the Government to deal harshly with the masses of the people of the South. The people cannot be held responsible for the rebellion. At its inception a large minority of them vainly opposed the increasing tide of public opinion until, overwhelming all their interests and social relations, it resist lessly swept them into the political vortex that engulfed these great communities. General Orders, No. 110, current series, Adjutant-General's Office, War Department, operates with undue severity in some cases. No discretion is left to military commanders to return property that has been taken or ordered to be vacated, in obedience to military necessity, and not abandoned or confiscated. In making a general order this was perhaps unavoidable.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO. E. SMITH,
Washington, August 13, 1865-9.30 a.m.
Major General GEORGE H. THOMAS,
I have been advised that innumerable frauds are being practiced by persons assuming to be Treasury agents in various portions of Alabama in the collection of cotton, pretended to belong to the Confederate Government. I also understand that they are connected with the commandant of post at Montgomery. I hope you will appoint some efficient officer under your command to proceed and examine and ascertain the facts, and if any parties shall be found, whether connected with the