2 1"5UREA1T OF FREEDMEX's; AFFAIRS.
desired ? M.-iv not results directly opposite from those anticipated by its friends
How from it. and a new system of vassalage, only differing in its appellation
with the one hitherto existing between the freedmen and their masters, be in¬
1th. Should not the bureau, if established, be under the control and direction
of the Department of the Interior, instead of the War Department?
Your committee are of opinion that. Congress has no legal power to cany into
i ffect till the provisions of the contemplated bill. A ph-a of humanity, policy.
or war necessity, may be urged in favor of assuming the power, and a forced
construction placed upon the plain letter of the Constitution to sanction the act.
Rut a great stretch of power, and an unwarranted p 'rversion of the language
of the fundamental law, will have to be resorted to in this instance to attain thisend.
A proposition to establish a bureau of Irishmen's affairs, a bureau of Dutch¬
men's affairs, or one for the affairs of those of Caucasian descent generally, who
are incapable of properly managing or taking care of their own interests by
reason of a neglected or deficient education, would, in the opinion of your com¬
mittee, be looked upon as the vagary of a diseased brain. No one would, for a
moment, suppose that it would receive the serious consideration of any Con¬
gress ; yet, equally strong claims, upon the score of humanity and philanthropy,
might be urged with great force in their behalf. Why the freedmen of African
descent should become these marked object-; of special legislation, to the detri¬
ment of the unfortunate whites, your committee fail to comprehend. The
freedmen when under the control of their former masters were taught to till the
soil, to act as teamsters, boatmen, cooks ; and many of them learned the me¬
chanical branches of trade, rendering them not only capable of earning a liveli¬
hood, but becoming a source of revenue to their masters. The propriety of
incurring an expenditure of money for the side benefit of the freedmen, and lay¬
ing a tax upon the labor of the poor and, perhaps, less favored white men to
defray it, is very questionable, and, in the opinion of your committee, unwise and
unjust, even admitting it to be lawful.
The establishing a bureau on Indian affairs cannot be cited as a precedent for
the introduction of the bill on freedmen's affairs. Our relations with the In¬
dians, which caused the establishing of a bureau, differed widely from those
now existing between the United States and the freedmen of African descent.
The necessity to see that the numerous treaties math- with the various Indian
tribes were faithfully adhered to, and to facilitate our business relations with
them, were among the motives which prompted government to establish a bureau
for the purpose, under the provisions of the Constitution. Your committee
know of no instance where Congress has undertaken to legislate for the exclu¬
sive benefit of the Indians, or of any other class of people. The bill under
consideration proposes to make the bureau subordinate to the War Department,
and place it under the control of its Secretary. Its purpose is declared to be the
adjustment and determination of all questions arising under any present or fu¬
ture law relative to the general superintendence, disposition, and direction of
all por.-ons of African descent becoming free by virtue of any proclamation,
military rule or order, or by act of the State governments, with power to estab¬
lish and enforce regulations such as may be deemed proper for the judicious
treatment and disposition of freedmen ; to assign to them lands for cultivation,
to organize and direct their labor, adjust their wages, and receive all returns
ari-mg therefrom. The indofniitoness of the bill leaves you committee some¬
what at a loss as to the subjects of its jurisdiction, or the method of its opera¬
tion, but. so far as its purposes are foreshadowed by the very general expres¬
sion- used in ihe language of the bill, it seems to them liable to very great
objections. It is well worthy of consideration whether legislation which is of
vital importance to the existence of the nation should be interrupted to give
place for the di.-cussion and perfection of such crude and immature plans. No