Freedmen’s Bureau Report of 31 Jul 1867

Office Sub Asst Com Bu.R.F. &A.L

Tampa Florida

July 31st 1867

Lieut A.H. Jackson

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


            I have the honor to make the following report upon the condition of Freedmen for the month ending July 31st 1867

            The freedmen for this month have been doing very well but four complaints have come to me from employers— Their crops are doing well taking into consideration the vast amount of rain which has fallen and the injury that it has caused to the crops preventing them from working them as they wanted to and causing some to loose their fodder but as a general thing they have saved a good deal but not as much as they would had the weather been more propitious.

            The conduct of the freedmen upon the plantations except in some few instances is all that could be desired although some complain of their not doing well but those complaints come from persons who would never be satisfied if they did ever so well nothing wont satisfy them but the old system on which they could use force and compel them to work at their pleasure.  There is more fault with the white man who employ them than the freedmen for in some instances the freedmen have been unjustly dealt with, on the plantation of Wm David Hope the freedmen have been driven away from their employment for no reason than that they marched under the U.S. Flag at Brookville on the first of the month at a meeting of the Republican party for the purpose of electing delegates to the meeting at Tallahassee on the 11 inst.  I was present during the meeting to see that no violence was offered.  I found the freedmen formed a company with armed with shot guns and muskets, they said they were told to come armed as the secessionists were not going to let them hold their meeting.  I ordered them to put away their arms which they did immediately and read to them the late orders of Col. Spraguis in regard to the carrying of weapons.  The Sheriff had his posse of white and black according to orders and every thing passed off quietly.  I prohibited the sale of liquor during the day which I thought was absolutely necessary for the reservation of peace.  There was about 50 whites and 300 freedmen present at the meeting no drunkenness secured till late at night when some freedmen got intoxicated and quarrelsome but the police force of the Sheriff made them return to their homes and all became quiet again, in a few days after I had several freedmen complain that Wm David Hope had told them they must leave his place if they marched under that damned U.S. flag as he would issue them no more rations that they might go to the leaders of their meeting for something to live upon.  They should no more from him.  I sent them back to tell Mr. Hope I had ordered them back upon his plantation to finish their crop and if he disturbed them I would arrest him.  I have heard nothing more from him, so I presume he thought it best to keep quiet and let them remain upon his place.  I will probably will have some trouble in setting up the freedmens accounts this fall with these Hopes as they are the worst set of people to get along with in this section of the county.  They are very bitter secessionists and look upon any injury they can do a Union man as a virtue.  They are looked upon as an undermining set of men in this community, any act of meanness they will undertake if it will only profit them.

            The freedmen’s school is in about the same condition nothing has been done by the freedmen to increase it but they promise to give labor and money for the erection of suitable buildings for school purposes this fall.  They promise to put forth their best efforts this fall as soon as their crops are done with.

            Their Temperance Society still has an increase of members.  There are now over 200 members and many are very faithful to their pledge, and will before long become of great benefit to themselves and the community.  I see its good effects already among the freedmen and drunkenness is fast demmishing.

            I have no complaints from Sumpter County this month, nor have I visited but the lower section of the county this month owning to the extremely bad travelling and as I have rec’d no complaints.  I presume every thing is going on smoothly there.

            Our mail has been stopped for a month consequently I have received no communications from your office since the 25th of June it is expected we will get the mails running regularly soon.  Every thing being very quiet in the counties I have nothing further to report this time.

Very Respectfully

Your Obs Sev’t

Wm. G. Vance

Brt Cap’t ORC

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


** This is one of the most interesting letters I have come across since finding the Freedmen’s Records, it gives very specific details as to some of the disagreements the Freedmen’s Bureau had to resolve between the freedmen and the whites.  This letter also gives the agent’s opinion and point of view regarding the Hope family but keep in mind this opinion was about the Confederate Hope family coming from the Union Freedmen Agent, the agent’s view was likely bias because of politics.  300 freedmen marched upon Brooksville because they had been told they would not get to pick delegates for the upcoming Republican Convention, these delegates would be the leaders they would be voting for in the upcoming 1867-68 election, the freedmen saw it very important to be involved in the politics of their communities because they felt this would give them power among the community.