Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 5, Number 2, May, 1995 Page: 82
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
from the one-third to one-half that would later become standard in contractual
Leander Calvin Cunningham, an Alleyton resident who had been born in
Tennessee, was upset by the terms of the directive, which he thought unjust. He believed
that the directive had come from the Freedmen's Bureau. However, he did not complain
to Assistant Commissioner Gregory, but to General Wright. He pointed out that the
directive forced parties who had properly paid their freedmen to suffer equally with those
who had swindled them. Cunningham informed Wright that he and his associates had
four hundred bales of cotton, which belonged mostly to people who had bought it from
planters, ready for shipment to Houston and Galveston, and, as it was subject to
"decline," they wanted it shipped immediately. They could not present the proper
paperwork because, supposing they were meeting the only requirements, many of the
people who now owned the cotton had sent the planters' oaths to their consignees.
Cunningham also perceived in the directive an injustice to men of small means, because,
in some instances, parties had gotten permits to ship large quantities of cotton without
molestation, while the small merchant or planter had had his cotton detained on a mere
pretext. In short, Cunningham contended, the directive had created havoc in moving the
current crop to market. Many employers in the surrounding region used the terminus,
and Cunningham expected that there would soon be an additional five hundred bales of
cotton in Alleyton ready for transportation to Houston. He believed that a large number
of those would have to be stopped under the recent promulgation and be "subject to the
destroying action of the weather, the dangers of fire and other casualties." These
"annoyances," he stated, ought to be avoided.39
Cunningham's protests had some validity, but the complaints of freedmen
who did not receive pay or any share of the crop for their labor in the last half of 1865
were too numerous to ignore. Assistant Commissioner Gregory quickly realized that the
Texas economic situation was becoming worse rather than better. The freedmen
demanded some kind of protection to ensure that their interest in the crop would be
realized. Gregory eventually adopted a form of De Gress's directive in seizing the harvest
either before or during shipment, but cautioned his sub-assistant commissioners to be
flexible in implementing the order.40 The new Columbus agent would have to deal with
complaints from both whites and blacks about their economic stake in the crop.
John T. Raper
The second official Freedmen's Bureau agent for Columbus, John T. Raper,
had seen extensive service during the war. Born in 1841 in Chillicothe, Ross County,
Ohio, Raper was a printer when the conflict began. He enlisted in the Twenty-Sixth
Regiment, Ohio Infantry, on May 1, 1861. Described as having "temperate" habits, he
fought at Stone River, Chickamauga, and Mission Ridge, and was in Sherman's Atlanta
38 Richter, Overreached On All Sides, pp. 28-29.
39 Leander C. Cunningham (Alleyton) to Horatio G. Wright (major general, commanding), November
20, 1865, Assistant Commissioner, Unregistered Letters, 1865-1866, M821, Reel 17; Endorsement, Wright,
November 25, 1865; Endorsement, Byron Porter (assistant adjutant general), December 4, 1865 (who re-
ferred it to a field officer), on Cunningham to Wright, November 20, 1865.
40 Richter, Overreached On All Sides, p. 29.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 5, Number 2, May, 1995, periodical, May 1995; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151394/m1/14/: accessed November 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.