War of the Rebellion: Serial 124 Page 0073 UNION AUTHORITIES.

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Washington, March 16, 1863.





GENTLEMAN: The order, of which the following is a copy, sets forth in general terms the functions and duties with which you are charged by this Department:

Ordered, That Robert Dale Owen, of Indiana; Colonel James McKaye, of New York, and Samuel G. Howe, of Boston, Mass., be, and they are hereby appointed commissioners to investigate the condition of the colored population emancipated by acts of Congress and the President's proclamation of January 1, 1863, and to report what measures will best contribute to their protection and improvement, so that they may defend and support themselves; and also, how they can be most usefully employed in the service of the Government for the suppression of the rebellion.

The great and constantly increasing colored population thrown upon the care of this Department in the progress of the war, in the absence of any legislative provision for their protection and disposal, renders it highly proper that it should have not [only] the most authentic and accurate information as to their present condition and as to the experiences of other communities in like crises, but that such practical measures for placing them in s state of self-support and self-defense, with the least possible disturbance to the great industrial interest of the country and of rendering their services efficient in the present war, should be carefully and maturely considered and reported.

With these purposes in view, you will repair to such places as you may deem necessary, in order to obtain on the spot such authentic information as will enable you thoroughly to understand the matters hereby submitted to your investigation. Every aid and facility from Government officials in such places will be secured to you, at your request, by letters addressed to them from the proper Department.

You will be allowed a secretary, and, if you should find it necessary, a corresponding secretary and messenger, and such after aid, stenographic or other, as you may deem essential to carry out the objects of the commission.

You are authorized to procure for the use of the commission such official documents, publications, and other writings (ultimately to be placed in the library of the War Department) as may be necessary in the course of your investigations and in making out your report.

Your compensation will be a per diem of $8, together with quarters, fuel, and subsistence at the rates allowed to a colonel of cavalry; and you will be allowed actual traveling and office expenses on vouchers specifying such expenses, duly certified by the commission.

While from the nature of the duties assigned to you a precise limit cannot be affixed for their termination, and while it is very desirable that they should be prosecuted with all proper assiduity and completed at as early a day as is consistent with their due performance, you are expected to continue your labors until you shall be able fully to complete the investigations and researches herewith committed to your charge, and report the same to the Department.

You may make to me from time to time, as you see fit, preliminary reports during your progress, and your final report will be accompanied