ORDERS NO. 9.] VICKSBURG, MISS., March 11, 1864.
The following regulations respecting the leasing of plantations within the limits of the Military Division of the Mississippi, and the management of the freedmen thereon, are published for the information and government of all concerned:
The rules adopted by Maj. Gen. N. P. Banks in the Department of the Gulf have, for the sake of uniformity, been taken as a basis, with such modifications as the experience of the past year has dictated as most beneficial to the interest of this section of the country.
The occupation of the plantations and employment of the freedmen, having been directed by the President of the United States, must be regarded as a settled policy of the Government, and it is the duty of all military commanders and troops to afford protection to the fullest extent to this most important interest whenever it can properly be done.
When steam-boats are employed by proper authority, transporting freedmen or supplies for plantations, such boats will not be taken possession of unless under an imperative necessity, and then only under the immediate order of the general in command of the department, corps, or district.
I. The enlistment of soldiers from plantations under cultivation in this department, having been suspended by order of the Government, will not be resumed except upon direction of the same high authority.
II. Provost-marshals shall be distributed at convenient points in the neighborhood of leased plantations, whose duty it shall be to see that justice and equity are observed in all relations between employers of freedmen and those employed, and to exercise such other police duties as shall be assigned to them by the district commanders appointing them. The districts over which they shall exercise these duties shall be called police districts.
III. Provision will be made for the establishment of a sufficient number of schools--one at least for each of the police districts--for the instruction of colored children under twelve years of age, which will be established by and placed under the direction of the superintendent of public education.
IV. Soldiers will not be allowed to visit plantations without the written consent of the commanding officer of the regiment or post to which they are attached, and never with arms, except when on duty, accompanied by an officer.
V. Plantation hands will not be allowed to pass from one place to another, except under such regulations as may be established by the provost-marshal of the police district.
VI. Flogging and other cruel or unusual punishment are interdicted.
VII. Planters will be required as early as practicable after the publication of these regulations to make a roll of persons employed upon their estates, and to transmit the same to the provost-marshal of the district. In the employment of hands the unity of families will be secured as far as possible.
VIII. All questions between the employer and the employed, until other tribunals are established, will be decided by the provost-marshal of the police district, subject to appeal to the higher authorities.
IX. Sick and disabled persons will be provided for on the plantations to which they belong, except such as may be received in establishments provided for them by the Government at the freedmen's home farms, which establishments shall be under the exclusive control and direction of the respective superintendents thereof, and all commanders of military forces stationed thereon will see that all proper military protection is afforded, and will aid in carrying out the police regulations thereof as desired by the superintendents.
X. The unauthorized purchase of clothing or other property from laborers will be punished by fine and imprisonment. The sale of whisky or other intoxicating drinks to them or other persons, except under regulations established by the commander of the district, will be followed by the severest punishment.
XI. The possession of arms or concealed or dangerous weapons, without authority, will be punished by fine and imprisonment.
XII. Laborers shall render to their employer, between daylight and dark, ten hours in summer and nine hours in winter, of respectful, honest, faithful labor, and receive therefor, in addition to just treatment, healthy rations, comfortable clothing, quarters, fuel, medical attendance, and instruction for children, wages per month as follows, payment of one-half of which, at least, shall be reserved until the end of the year, and lessees will discourage all payment of monthly wages as far as it can be done without discontent, and reserve the same as above stated: The minimum wages for males over fourteen years of age, and competent to do a well man's work, $10 per month; for females over fourteen years of age, and competent to do a well woman's work, $7 per month; children from twelve to fourteen years of age, inclusive, and of those too feeble to earn full wages, half the above amounts will be paid, or a specified amount to be agreed upon by the employer and the employed, subject to the approval of the superintendent of the freedmen's home farm nearest thereto. Engineers and foremen, when faithful in the discharge of their duties, will be paid such additional sums as shall be agreed upon and approved by the proper home farm superintendent. This schedule of wages may be commuted by agreement between the employer and the employ�s, subject to approval as above. Wages will be deducted in ease of sickness, and rations also when sickness is feigned. Indolence, insolence, disobedience of orders, and crime will be suppressed by forfeiture of pay--such forfeitures to go to the fund for the support of the helpless freed people--and such punishments as are provided for similar offenses by Army Regulations. Sunday work will be avoided when practicable, but when necessary will be considered as extra labor, and paid at the rates specified herein.
XIII. When laborers are furnished with employment they will be held to their engagement for one year, under the protection of the Government. In eases of attempted imposition, by feigning sickness or stubborn refusal of duty, they will be turned over to the provost-marshal of the police districts for labor upon the public works without pay.
XIV. Laborers will be permitted to cultivate land on private account, as shall be agreed between them and the employers, subject to the approval of the provost-marshal of the district. The encouragement of independent industry will strengthen all the advantages which capital derives from labor, and enable the laborer to take care of himself and prepare for the time when he can render so much labor for so much money, which is the great end to be attained.
XV. To protect the laborer from possible imposition no commutation of his supplies will be allowed, except in clothing, which may be commuted at the rate of $3 per month. The crops will stand pledged, wherever found, for the wages of labor.
XVI. It is advised, as far as practicable, that employers provide for the current wants of their hands by perquisites for extra labor or by appropriation of land for share cultivation.
XVII. A free labor bank will be established for the safe deposit of all accumulations of wages and other savings; and in order to avoid a possible wrong to depositors, by official defalcation, authority will be asked to connect the bank with a treasury of the United States in the Military Division of the Mississippi.
XVIII. The rules and regulations of the supervising special agent of the Treasury Department dated January 7, 1864, and the terms and conditions of all contracts made in pursuance thereof for leasing abandoned plantations and employing freedmen, are hereby approved, except as to the classification and compensation of hands, and as to police matters, which shall be as herein provided.
XIX. The last year's experience shows that the planter and the negro comprehend the revolution. The overseer, having little interest in capital and less sympathy with labor, dislikes the trouble of thinking, and discredits the notion that anything new has occurred. He is a relic of the past and adheres to its customs. His stubborn refusal to comprehend the condition of things occasioned most of the troubles of the past year. Where such incomprehension is chronic, reduced wages, diminished rations, and the mild punishments imposed by the Army and Navy will do good.
XX. These regulations are based upon the assumption that labor is a public duty and idleness and vagrancy a crime. No civil or military officer of the Government is exempt from the operation of this universal rule. Every enlightened community has enforced it upon all classes of people by the severest penalties. It is especially necessary in agricultural pursuits. That portion of the people identified with the cultivation of the soil, however changed in condition by the revolution through which we are passing, is not relieved from the necessity of toil, which is the condition of existence with all the children of God. The revolution has altered its tenure, but not its law. This universal law of labor will be enforced upon just terms by the Government, under whose protection the laborer rests secure in his rights. Indolence, disorder, and crime will be suppressed. Having exercised the highest right in the choice and place of employment, he must be held to the fulfillment of his engagements until released therefrom by the Government. The several provost-marshals are hereby invested with plenary powers upon all matters connected with labor, subject to the approval of the commanding officer of the district. The most faithful and discreet officers will be selected for this duty, and the largest force consistent with the public service detailed for their assistance.
XXI. Employers, and especially overseers, are notified that undue influence used to move the marshal from his just balance between the parties representing labor and capital will result in immediate change of officers, and thus defeat that regular and stable system upon which the interests of all parties depend.
XXII. Successful industry is especially necessary at the present time, when large public debts and onerous taxes are imposed to maintain and protect the liberties of the people and the integrity of the Union. All officers, civil or military, and all classes of citizens who assist in extending the profits of labor and increasing the products of the soil, upon which in the end all national prosperity and power depend, will render to the Government a service as great as that derived from the terrible sacrifices of battle. It is upon such consideration only that the planter is entitled to favor. The Government has accorded to him, in a period of anarchy, a release from the disorders resulting mainly from insensate and mad resistance to sensible reforms, which can never be rejected without revolution, and the criminal surrender of his interests and power to crazy politicians, who thought by metaphysical abstractions to circumvent the laws of God, It has restored to him in improved, rather than impaired, condition his due privileges, at a moment when, by his own acts, the very soil was washed from beneath his feet.
XXIII. A more majestic and wise clemency history does not exhibit. The liberal and just conditions that attend it cannot be disregarded. It protects labor by enforcing the performance of its duty, and it will assist capital by compelling just contributions to the demands of the Government. Those who profess allegiance to other governments will be required, as the condition of residence in the Military Division of the Mississippi, to acquiesce, without reservation, in the demands presented by Government as a basis of permanent peace. The non-cultivation of the soil, without just reason, will be followed by temporary forfeiture to those who will secure its improvement. Those who have exercised or are entitled to the rights of citizens of the United States will be required to participate in the measures necessary for the re-establishment of civil government. War can never cease except as civil governments crush out contest and secure the supremacy of moral over physical power. The yellow harvest must wave over the crimson field of blood and the representatives of the people displace the agents of purely military power.
XXIV. It is therefore a solemn duty resting upon all persons to assist in the earliest possible restoration of civil government. Let them participate in the measures suggested for this purpose. Opinion is tree and candidates are numerous. Open hostility cannot be permitted. Indifference will be treated as crime and faction as treason. Men who refuse to defend their country with the ballot-box or cartridge-box have no just claim to the benefits of liberty regulated by law. All people not exempt by the law of nations, who seek the protection of the Government, are called upon to take the oath of allegiance in such form as may be prescribed, sacrificing to the public good and the restoration of public peace whatever scruples may be suggested by incidental considerations. The oath of allegiance, administered and received in good faith, is the best of unconditional fealty to the Government and all its measures, and cannot be materially strengthened or impaired by the language in which it is clothed.
XXV. The amnesty offered for the past is conditioned upon an unreserved loyalty for the future, and this condition will be enforced with an iron hand. Whoever is indifferent or hostile must choose between the liberty which foreign lands afford, the poverty of the rebel States, and the innumerable and inappreciable blessings which our Government confers upon its people.
May God preserve the Union of the States!
By order of the Secretary of War:
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