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Rules and Regulations

 Rules and Regulations for Assistant Commissioners

[Circular No 5 ]


Washington, May 30, 1865


I The headquarters of the Assistant Commissioners will, for the present, be established as follows, viz: For Virginia, at Richmond, Va; for North Carolina, at Raleigh, N. C; for South Carolina and Georgia, at Beaufoit, S C ; for Alabama, at Montgomery, Ala; for Kentucky and Tennessee, at Nashville, Tenn.; for Missouri and Arkansas, at St Louis, Mo; for Mississippi, at Vicksburg, Miss ; for Louisiana, at New Orleans, La; for Florida, at Jacksonville, Fla

II Assistant Commissioners, not already at their posts, will make all haste to establish their headquarters, acquaint themselves with their fields, and do all in their power to quicken and direct the industry of refugees and freedmen, that they and their communities may do all that can be done for the season, already so far advanced, to prevent starvation and suffering, and promote good order and prosperity Their attention is invited to Circular No 2, from this bureau, indicative of the objects to be attained.

III. Relief establishments will be discontinued as speedily as the cessation of hostilities and the return of industrial pursuits will permit Great discrimination will be observed in administering relief, so as to include none that are not absolutely necessitous and destitute.

IV Every effort will be made to render the people self-supporting Government supplies will only be temporarily issued to enable destitute persons speedily to support themselves, and exact accounts must be kept with each individual or community, and held as a lien upon their crops The ration for the destitute will be that already provided in General Order No 30, War Department, series 1864 The commissioners are especially to remember that their duties are to enforce, with reference to these classes, the laws of the United States

V Loyal refugees, who have been driven from their homes, will, on their return, be protected from abuse, and the calamities of their situation relieved as far as possible If destitute, they will be aided with transportation, and food when deemed expedient, while in transit, returning to their former homes.

VI Simple good faith, for which we hope on all hands from those concerned in the passing away of slavery, will especially relieve the Assistant Commissioners in the discharge of their duties toward the freedmen, as well as promote the general welfare The Assistant Commissioners will everywhere declare and protect their fiefdom, as set forth in the proclamations of the President and the laws of Congress -

VII In all places where these is an interruption of civil law, or in which local courts, by reason of old codes, in violation of the freedom guaranteed by the proclamation of the President and laws of Congress, disregard the Negro's sight to justice before the laws in not allow- ing him to give testimony, the control of all subjects relating to refugees and freedmen being committed to this bureau, the Assistant Commissions will adjudicate, either themselves or though offices of their, appointment, all difficulties arising between Negroes themselves, or between Negroes and whites or Indians, except those in military service, so far as recognizable by military authority, and not taken cognizance of by the others tribunals, civil of military, of the United States

VlII Negroes must be fee to choose their own employers, and be paid for their labor Agreements should be free, bone fide acts, approved by proper officers, and their inviolability enforced on both parties The old system of overseers, tending to compulsory unpaid labor and acts of cruelty and oppression, is prohibited. The unity of families, and all the sights of the family relation, will be carefully guarded. In places where the local statutes make no provisions for the marriages of persons of cobs, the Assistant Commissioners ate authorized to designate officers who shall keep a record of marriages, which may be solemnized by any ordained minister of the gospel, who shall make a return of the same, with such items as may be required for registration at places designated by the Assistant Commissioner Registrations already made by United States officers will be carefully preserved

IX Assistant Commissioners will instruct their receiving and disbursing officers to make requisitions upon all officers, civil or military, in charge of funds, abandoned lands, and within their respective territories, to turn over the same in accordance with the orders of the President They will direct their medical officers to ascertain the facts and necessities connected with the medical treatment and sanitary condition of refugees and freedmen They will instruct their teachers to collect the facts in reference to the progress of the work of education, and aid it with as few changes as possible to the close of the present season During the school vacations of the hot months, special attention will be given to the provision for the next year

X Assistant Commissioners will aid refugees and freedmen in seeming titles to land according to law This may be done for them as individuals or by encouraging joint companies

XI This bureau being in the War Department, all rules and regulations governing officers under accountability for property apply as set forth in the revised regulations of the army All other persons in the service of the bureau are also subject to military jurisdiction

XII Assistant Commissioners will require regular and complete reports from their subordinates, and will themselves report quarterly, as directed by law, and correspond frequently with this bureau, directing to the Commissioner in person.

0 0 HOWARD, Major General, Commissioner Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen

Approved June 2, 1865

ANDREW JOHNSON President of the United States