bringing practically to the notice of the refugees as soon as they come under the care of the superintendent the obligations of the married state in civilized life. Debarred as slaves from any legal union, often from any permanent connection, unable to contract a marriage that is not liable to be broken up at the will of the master, they usually regard it as a privilege appertaining to emancipation to be married "as white folks are." The Commission think that while compulsion in regard to this matter should be avoided, a judicious superintendent will, as a general rule, find no difficulty in inducing refugees when bringing with them those whom they acknowledge to be their wives and children, to consent to a ceremony which, while it legitimizes these relations, imposes upon the husband and father the legal obligation to support his family. This obligation and the duties connected with the family relation of civilized life should be carefully explained to these people, and while they remain under our care should be strictly maintained among them. The evidence before the Commission proves that with few exceptions they show themselves prompt to acknowledge and ready to fulfill such obligations.
If, however, cases should occur in which a refugee proves refractory and refuses to acknowledge as his wife, or to marry, the woman with whom he has been living and who is the mother of his children, he should no longer be allowed to cohabit with her or to live with the children; but if the proof of his previous relationship to them be sufficient, he should be compelled to contribute to their support from his wages in the same manner as if they were his family by legal marriage. All this is especially necessary in connection with a proper system of allotment from wages, of which hereafter.
Some further remarks on this subject, touching on the social and family relations in the slave society of South Carolina, will be found in another part of this report.
Sue is before the Commission that colored refugees in general place a high value both on education for their children and religious instruction for themselves. In Alexandria and in various other places it came to the knowledge of the Commission that one of the first acts of the negroes when they found themselves free was to establish schools at their own expense; and in every instance where schools and churches have been provided for them they have shown lively gratitude and the greatest eagerness to avail themselves of such opportunities of improvement.
As a general rule, they are more zealously devotional than the white race; they have more resignation and more reliance on Divine Providence. They have also more superstitions. These, however, the Commission think, should not be hardly dealt with. It is of more importance sympathizingly to meet and encourage in these untaught people the religious sentiment which sways them than to endeavor in a spirit of proselytism to replace their simple faith in the Divine goodness and protection by dogmas of a more elaborate and polemical character. Practically, as regards the Christian graces of kindness and humility, we have as much to learn from them as they from us.
It is desirable thatible their schools and their churches be supported in whole or in part by themselves.
Medical aid they need in the outset and it should be provided for them; but here, too, the principle of self-support should be introduced as soon as circumstances permit. Vaccination ought to be strictly attended to.