Freedmen’s Bureau Report of 25 May 1866

Office Asst Commissioner

Bureau R.F. & A.L

Tallahassee FLA May 25th 66

Luiet W. G Vance

Sub Asst Commiss Bu. R.F. & A.L

Brooksville FLA


            Your communication of 16th, requesting instructions in certain cases of injustice to Freedmen arising in your District has been rec’d.

            In reply the Asst Commissioner instructed me to enclose to you a copy of General Foster’s General Order No 28 from which it will be seen that Circuit law has been restored in the State, except in certain cases, when the officers of the Bureau make affidavits that they have reason to believe that justice will not be administered by the Circuit Courts.  Mr. Pearce can enter suit for the recovery of his property in the Civil Courts, and if denied justice then have the case transferred to the U.S. Circuit Courts under the Civil Rights Bill.

            The asst Commis recommends in cases where the trial of Freedpeople is sold under the State laws, as in the instance to which you refer then you propose to the proper offices that you will obtain employment for them at recommendable wages and is your office is rejected, to send a full report of the facts to this office, for the action of the Asst Commis.  The jurisdiction of the Courts will not be interfered with when justice is administered under the law, but in all cases where a full and impartial trial is not granted and manifest injustice shown to the offender, the military can and will interfere to prevent the execution of such sentences.

            The cases to which you refer was mentioned to Genl. Steadman during his visit here and he did not hesitate to recommend that the military should interfere on the ground that a fraud was perpetrated in the sale, if the facts were as represented.

            The Asst. Commissioner is pleased to note your attention and efficiency in discharging the duties of you position.

I am Very Respectfully

Your obs servt

SL McKinry

Brt Major A.A.A Gen


**This letter specifically outlines that Bueau Agents had the right to interfere with any trials where they felt injustice was being committed. The Bureau then had the right to have the trial transferred to the U.S. Courts under the Civil Rights Bill. Many times there would have been a Bureau Agent seated in during the preceedings of freedpeople. At the Hernando County seat, Brooksville, there were trials in which the Bureau interfered on the account of injustice, one example of this was the trial of Isham Johnson for which a mention of can be read in the report dated October 13th 1866.