The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953 Page: 2
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
involve the future of four million souls could have been put in
more charitable or more benevolent hands."
Howard assumed his office as commissioner of the Freedmen's
Bureau on May 15, 1865. The territory under the jurisdiction of
the bureau was divided into ten districts with an assistant com-
missioner in charge of each.3 These ten districts (increased to
twelve in 1866) were in turn divided into sub-districts and divi-
sions for administrative purposes. Some of these assistant com-
missioners served in as many as three states. General E. M. Greg-
ory was appointed as assistant commissioner for Texas, and he
reached his station at Galveston on September 21, 1865. On this
day the bureau began to function in Texas.4
Ominous stories of freedmen's being deprived of their liberty
guaranteed under the proclamation of emancipation as well as
rumors of personal violence inflicted on freedmen were circulat-
ing everywhere as General Gregory set up his headquarters at
the Customs House in Galveston and prepared to launch his
program. In his first proclamation dated October 12, 1865, he
ordered all officers under his jurisdiction to give publicity to the
Emancipation Proclamation and to see that it was read and dis-
tributed wherever freedmen were employed, copies to be fur-
nished to all employers as well as to all state officers. These
officers were further charged with the responsibility of adjudi-
cating all matters between freedmen or between freedmen and
whites where civil officials failed to give impartial justice. Greg-
ory also enjoined them to point out to the freedmen that their
freedom was accompanied by certain obligations-the obligation
to work, the obligation to enter into written contracts with
employers-and to see that the freedmen's contracts were regis-
tered with the proper bureau official. The bureau officials were
urged to disabuse the freedmen's minds of the false impression
that the lands of their former masters would be divided among
8At its greatest extent the bureau's territory included the District of Columbia,
Indian Territory, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina,
South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Missouri,
Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
4Howard to E. M. Stanton, December, 1865, in House Executive Documents, g9th
Congress, Ist Session (Serial No. 1255), Document No. 11, p. 29g. General Gregory
served with credit in the Army of the Potomac and was recommended by General
G. G. Meade for a berth in the newly organized bureau.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953, periodical, 1953; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101145/m1/20/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.