The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953 Page: 5
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The Freedmen's Bureau in Texas 5
time, petitions flowed into Governor A. J. Hamilton in Austin
asking him to forestall a threatened uprising of the freedmen at
Christmas, and as a safeguard against this he authorized the or-
ganization of the county police. To assist further, the governor
issued an address to the negroes which he directed all county
judges to read to them. His address was kind but firm and con-
tained most wholesome advice. To the excited arid excitable
freedmen he said:
You are free-free to work for yourselves and to do right. No man
is free to do wrong and to live upon the labor of others. Your duty
as well as your interest will, I hope, lead you to do right.12
The machinery having been set into operation, Gregory, again
in accordance with advice of his surgeon-in-chief, turned to an
inspection of his district. On December io, 1865, he began a
tour of the Lower Brazos, Oyster Creek, Old Caney, and the
Colorado Valley, the cotton and sugar districts formerly crowded
with slaves, now swarming with freedmen. At the same time
Inspector General William E. Strong was ordered by General
Howard to inspect Texas. He spent a month in East Texas, on
the Trinity, and between the Trinity and the Neches rivers, as
well as extreme western part of Texas and points between Gal-
veston and the mouth of the Rio Grande, If one may rely on
the reports, the conditions were markedly different in the areas
Gregory reported that nine-tenths of the former slaves were
under contract, working steadily and soberly, and that the num-
ber refusing to make contracts was dwindling daily. Out of
400,000 freedmen in Texas at the time, he said that only sixty-
seven were receiving help. The farmers were paying from $8.00
to $15.00 per month to former slaves and in addition furnished
quarters, food, fuel, clothing, and medical attention. In many
instances, instead of wages a portion of the crop was pledged,
the amount ranging from one-third to one-half depending on
what the former slave furnished in seed, feed, and equipment.
He reported that theft, idleness, and vagrancy had almost become
a thing of the past, and that instances of shooting, cruel abuse,
12Harrison Flag, December 7, 1865, quoting Hamilton's address of November x7,
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953, periodical, 1953; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101145/m1/23/: accessed April 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.