Freedmen’s Bureau Report of 6 Sep 1867

Tampa FLA

September 6th 1867

Lieut Allen H. Jackson

A.A.A.G & D.O.Bu.R.F & A.L

Jacksonville FLA.


            I have the honor to submit the following report covering the months of July and August.  In the business entering and locating Homesteads, almost nothing has been done.  I have only sent four applications to the Land Office.  I suppose, however, that a sufficient reason for this may be found in the fact that during these two months it has rained almost incessantly, so that the whole county is, as it were, inundated.  All the watercourses have been so high as to render travelling difficult, and sometimes dangerous.  Add to this the excitement we have had about the yellow fever, and we have abundant reason why so few have come to town to enter land.  But now as this extraodinary season of rain is about closing, and the yellow fever scare is subsiding, more persons are ingraining about land. 

            The difficulty of travelling, and a quite severe attack of fever, have thus far presented my visiting the colony of freedpeople near Manatee, spoken of in my instructions.  But as soon as the country dries up a little and I fully regain my strength, I shall visit them.

            I have had occasion to visit the different precincts of this County in connection with the Registration, and have had some opportunitys of learning the temper and disposition of the people, and the state of the crops.  It is unnecessary to say anything of the manner in which the people live.  The log houses and roughframe, but ready hosspitality of the dwellins in the ‘piney woods’, have doubtless often been described to you.  The people think they work hard, but measured by the standard of New England farming, they live in shiftlessness and idleness, and a large part of the products of their labor they allow to run to waste.  Politically the majority of the white inhabitants of this section of the State are intensely rebel.  And the intensity of their attachment to the ideas and ends of the late rebellion, and of their hatred of ‘yankees and n—-rs’, seems to be in direct proportion to the depth of their ingnorance, and the length of time that has elapsed since they have seen last saw a newspaper.  But here and there you will find a true Union man: a Union man who is known as such, and recognized on account of it, one who during the war shouldered his musket or his double barrelled gun for the Union, and braved death by rebel bullets or rebel rope for the Old Flag.  All such men actually indicted for treason to the State, and, had the rebellion succeeded, would undoubtedly have been hung— provided they had first been caught.

            The condition of the Freemen is neither very good nor very bad.  I have not heard of any cases of extreme suffering though some of them are very destitute.  As a class however they are supporting themselves and living peaceably with the whites.  They seem generally to have a fair understanding of their new political privileges, and are anxious for information to guide them in the use of them.  They are very desirous of schools.  There has been no school for colored children at Tampa since the summer of last year.  If Mr. Chase has any teachers at his disposal for the Fall and Winter, there is a demand for one here.

            The crops are very much injured by the heavy rains.  On many plantations it has been impossible to have the corn from the field, on account of the ground being reduced to a perfect bog.  The cotton crop, as far as I have seen and heard, is almost a total failure.  I have seen whole fields of it converted into standing ponds.  The sugar cane I do not think is generally…..


** This report was not complete, compared to Agent Vance’s other reports this was not one of his reports and I have been unable to determine whom it came from.  The portion obtained shows that the rainy season had been abnormally wet, which hurt the plantation crops and the earnings of the freedmen.  This report also shows the political differences between the many diverse people living throughout the area.  Also we see the living conditions of the freedmen by them living in log cabin.  These cabins were typically small shanty type homes with only bare necessities.  As the freedmen worked and earned money they eventually homesteaded their own property and farmed their own farms and built their own homes.  This led to unrest between the freedmen and the whites because the white plantation owners no longer had workers as the freedmen were tending to their own crops.  The freedmen who did not yet own property usually worked upon the farms of the other freedmen, this is what led to the formation of African American communities and the freedmen being self-reliant.