The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953 Page: 19
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
The Freedmen's Bureau in Texas
claiming criminal jurisdiction. The army claimed jurisdiction in
all cases in which soldiers or other employees of the government
were involved; the Freedmen's Bureau counted itself supreme in
matters relating to the negroes, particularly when it was doubtful
whether justice would be given in the civil courts. On the other
hand the civil courts claimed jurisdiction in all criminal cases.
This overlapping of authority resulted in many clashes which
helps to explain the bitter hostility so often manifested toward
the agents of the Freedmen's Bureau.
One of the early conflicts occurred in Bosque County. A negro
had been arrested, jailed, and indicted for the rape of a young
white woman when a bureau agent twenty miles- distant de-
manded that civil authorities surrender the negro to him. The
sheriff of Bosque was threatened with arrest and trial if he re-
fused. The negro was turned over to the agent but was released
shortly thereafter.48 A freedman of Matagorda County indicted
for murderous assault was forcibly taken from the custody of the
sheriff by the local agent of the bureau. A negro cook on a vessel
entering Galveston harbor was arrested by civil authorities on
the charge of mutinous conduct. In spite of the fact that the
arrest was made at the request of the captain of the ship, he was
released by order of General Kiddoo who had just replaced
Gregory as chief of the Texas Freedman's Bureau. Numerous
instances could be cited wherein the bureau overrode civil au-
thority. In Grayson County a government agent, arrested for
unlawful conduct before entering upon his official duties, was
forcibly released by the bureau. At Brenham the bureau agent
seized control of the jail and imprisoned the editor because he
criticized teachers of freedmen.49 In Houston the agents resisted
the rearrest of a negro who had escaped after being indicted and
confined for assault with intent to murder.
One of the great handicaps under which the bureau operated
was the inevitable petty actions of some of its low rank officials.50
48J. K. Helton to Throckmorton, August, 1866 (MS., in Executive Correspond-
ence, Adjutant General's Office, Austin). See also Read to Throckmorton.
49Flake's Bulletin, February 6, 1867. See also Charles W. Ramsdell, Reconstruc-
tion in Texas (New York, 1910), 123ff.
sOPetty actions, however, were not confined to subordinates. To illustrate this,
one need only recall the instance of General Griffin's refusal to allow the body of
Here’s what’s next.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
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/m1/37/?rotate=270: accessed May 25, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.