When Freedom Cried Out
The Freedmen's Bureau in Texas

 

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Assistant Commissioners

The Freedmen's Bureau operated in Texas from late September 1865 until July 1870. During that time five men served as assistant commissioner: Edgar M. Gregory, from September 1865 until May 14, 1866; Joseph Kiddoo, until January 14, 1867; Charles Griffin, until his death on September 15, 1867; Joseph J. Reynolds, until January 1869; and Edward R. S. Canby, briefly, until he was replaced by Reynolds. In the beginning, at least, Howard regarded Texas as his most difficult sphere of operations. Much later in his Autobiography he recalled that the job of assistant commissioner for Texas, to which he was appointing Gregory, "seemed at the time...to be the post of greatest peril."

The men who served as assistant commissioners in Texas were convinced that the two keys to providing long-term protection for freedmen and promoting peace and goodwill were the establishment of a free agricultural labor system and the founding of good schools for the freedmen. They reasoned that once the planters realized that fair treatment and pay would motivate blacks to work, then planters would offer those incentives, and freedmen would willingly work hard in their own best interest. Education would provide blacks with the tools they needed to function effectively in a literate society. Although the five commissioners shared to some extent the racial views prevalent among most contemporary Americans, they insisted that the courts accord blacks the same legal rights that whites enjoyed. When, for example, a subassistant commissioner aided local authorities in disarming blacks who were in town, Kiddoo ordered the agent to return the weapons unless the law also disarmed whites.

Assistant Commissioner - Edgar M Gregory

BrigGen. Edgar Mortimer Gregory     pictures July 10, 1865-Mar. 30, 1866
BrigGen. Joseph Barr Kiddoo      April 2, 1866-Jan. 24, 1867
MajGen. Charles Griffin     Jan. 24, 1867-Sept. 15, 1867
Lt. Charles Garretson* Sept. 15, 1867-Oct. 23, 1867
MajGen. Joseph Jones Reynolds    Sept. 21, 1867-Dec. 30, 1868
MajGen. Edward Sprigg Canby Jan. 18, 1869-April 8, 1869
MajGen. Joseph Jones Reynolds (2x)   April 8, 1869-April 28, 1869
*Functions of the office handled by
  Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "FREEDMEN'S BUREAU," http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/FF/ncf1.html (accessed October 18, 2005).

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