Dear Ms. Lunelle,
It is a well-known fact that the Honorable General Thomas Stonewall Jackson befriended the African people; he and his wife opening up the doors of their home and church to teach the Africans how to read and write when it was against the law to do so.
General Jackson’s Chaplain, the Honorable Rev. R.L. Dabney from Prince Edward County, Virginia, was well renowned as a southern minister before the War For Southern Independence. It is his letter (presented in four parts) here to the Chief of the Freedmen’s Bureau that I present my case of the Honorable Southern white man in his relations and relationships with a man he preferred to call either his servant, family, or friend.
To Major General Howard
Chief of the Freedmen’s Bureau, Washington
Sir: Your high official trust makes you, in a certain sense, the representative man of the North, as concerns their dealing with the African race in these United States. It is as such that I venture to address you, and through you all your fellow citizens on behalf of this recently liberated people.
My purpose is humbly to remind you of your weighty charge, and to encourage you to go forward with an enlarged philanthropy and zeal in that career of beneficence toward the African which Providence has opened before you. Rarely has it fallen to the lot of one of the sons of men to receive a larger trust, or to enjoy a wider opportunity for doing good.
At the beginning of the late war there were in the South nearly four million of Africans. All these, a nation in numbers now taken from their former guardians, are laid upon the hands that government of which you are the special agent for their protection and guidance. To this nation of black people you are virtually father and king; your powers for their management are unlimited; and for assisting their needs you have the resources of the”greatest people on earth.”
Your action for the freedmen’s good is restrained by no constitution or precedents, but the powers you exercise for them are as full as your office is novel. We see evidence of this in the fact that your agents, acting for the good of your charge, can seize by military arrest any one of their fellow citizens of African descent, for no other offense than being unemployed, convey him without his consent, and without the company of his wife and family to a distant field of industry, where he is compelled to wholesome labor for such remuneration as you may be pleased to assign.
Another evidence is seen in your late order, transferring all causes and indictments in which a freedman is a party, from the courts of law of the Southern States to the bar of your own commissioners and sub-commissioners for adjudication. I beg you to believe that these instances are not cited by me for the purpose of repeating the cavils against the justice and consistency of the powers exercised in them, in which some have been heard to indulge.
My purpose is not to urge with them that there is no law by which a free citizen can be rightfully abridged of his liberty of enjoying the atium cum dignitate so long as he abstains from crime or misdemeanor therein, merely because he wears a black skin, while the same government does not presume to interfere with the exercise of this privilege by his white fellow-citizens, even though they be those lately in rebellion against it; that this military arrest and transference to the useful distant scene of compulsory labor, is precisely that penalty of”transportation”which Southern laws never inflicted, even on the slave, except for crime and after judicial investigation ; that these commissioners for adjudicating cases to which freedmen are parties, are in reality judges at law, appointed by you, for every city and county in eleven States, and empowered to sit without jury, and to decide without regard to the precedents or statutes of the States; which would exhibit your bureau as not only executive, but a judicial branch of the government, established without constitutional authority
And that a hundred fold more pervasive in its jurisdiction than the Supreme Court itself; and that this”order” has, by one stroke of your potent pen, deprived eight millions of white people of the right of a trial by jury, guaranteed to them by the sixth and seventh additional articles of the United States Constitution, in every case where a freedman happens to be a party against them.
I repeat, that I have not adduced these instances for the purpose of urging these or such like objections; (it does not become the subject to cavil against the powers exercised by his conquerors), but only to impress you with the obligation, which the fullness of your powers brings upon you, to do good to your charge upon a great scale.
I cannot believe that means will be lacking to you any more than powers. At your back stands the great, the powerful, the rich, the prosperous, the philanthropic, Christian North, friend and liberator of the black man. It must be assumed that the zeal which waged a gigantic war for four years, which expended three thousand million of dollars, and one million of lives, in large part to free the Africans will be willing to lavish anything else which may be needed for his welfare.
And if the will is present, the ability is no less abundant among a people so wealthy and powerful, who exhibit the unprecedented spectacle of an emersion from a war which would have been to any other people with resources larger than when they began it, and who have found out (what all previous statesman deemed an impossibility), that the public wealth may be actually increased by unproductive consumption.
With full powers and means to do everything for the African, what may he expect from your guardianship? The answer which a generous and humane heart would make to this question, must of course be this: that it would seek to do for the good of its charge everything which is possible.
God bless you!
Chairman, Board of Advisors Emeritus, Southern Legal Resource Center
Member, Save Southern Heritage Florida
Honorary Life Member, Forest Orphans Camp 1744, Sons of Confederate Veterans
Honorary Camp Commander, Grandbury Texas Brigade Camp 1479, Sons of Confederate Veterans
Honorary Associate Member, Abner Baker Chapter 14, United Daughters of the Confederacy
Honorary Life Member, Ladies Memorial Association
Member, Historic March Across Dixie 20 Mile Club
Honorary Life Member, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia Orders of the Confederate Rose
President, Suthern Heritage 411