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Rollin, Frank [Frances] A.
Life and Public Services of Martin R. Delany



THE affairs of the Bureau promised a change in the advent of its new chief, in the person of Brevet Major General Scott. He entered upon the duties of his office in a most spirited and independent manner.

In many respects, it was thought, his administration was better adapted to the times than was the former general's. The rebels, encouraged by the smiles of their friends in high places, were fast resuming their old practices, and the status of the Bureau was scarcely recognized. General Scott having had some insight into the southern character while a prisoner in Charleston, during the war, his administration was looked upon with terror by the unrepentant chivalry of South Carolina; and it was not long before the difference was felt by them between the mild administration of West Point's accomplished soldier and that of the bluff western general.

On assuming the duties of his office, the general, accompanied by a portion of his staff, made a tour of inspection through his department, visiting every officer on duty, previous to reappointing him.

On this occasion the major's post received attention, and the satisfactory expressions of the general gave a

new impetus, if possible, to both officers and laborers in their respective spheres. The plans by which he had accomplished so much in the department were submitted to his inspection, and received his indorsement.

We present here the contract written expressly for his district, and rigidly enforced by him, though in many cases all the articles signed by the contracting parties would be simply an acknowledgment of his triple alliance contract:--

Article I. This contract between Justice Goodman and the freedmen, whose names are hereunto affixed, is on the basis of an equal partnership between Capital, Land, and Labor--each receiving one third of the proceeds of the productions of the cultivated plantation of Homestead Farm, Beaufort District, South Carolina, and to continue till January 1, 1867.

Article II. Each laborer is to receive (besides the privilege of firewood, with team and vehicle to haul it, and one acre of land to each family) one third of all that he or she is able to produce by cultivation, clear of all expenses except those incurred in the transportation and sale of the staple, as freight and commission on storage and sales, they supporting themselves and families; the proprietor making all advances of provisions or rations on credit (if required), finding all dwellings for the contractors, supplying all farming utensils, vehicles, machinery, sufficient working stock; and no labor is to be performed by hand or by a person that can better be done by animal labor or machinery.

Article III. All restrictions and obligations legally binding contracting parties in the fulfilment of their articles of agreement are implied in this article, and all damage for injury or loss of property by carelessness is to be paid by fair and legal assessment.

Article IV. Negligence of duty in cultivation, so as to become injurious to the proprietor or other contracting parties, either by loss in the production of staple, or example in conduct or

precedent, may, by investigation, cause a forfeiture of the interest of such person in their charge of the crop. Any contractor taking the place of one dismissed shall succeed to all of their rights and claims on the part of the crop left by them; otherwise it shall be equally divided between those who work it.

Article V. All Thanksgiving Days, Past Days, "holidays," I and national celebration days are to be enjoyed in all cases by contractors, without being regarded as a neglect of duty or violation of contract.

Article VI. Good conduct and good behavior of the freedmen towards the proprietor, good treatment of animals, and good care of tools, utensils, & and good and kind treatment by the proprietor to the freedmen, will be strictly required by the authorities; and all dwellings and immediate premises of freedmen must be kept neat and clean, subject to inspection and fine for neglect by such sanitary arrangements as the government may make.

Article VII. No sutler stores will be permitted on the place, and nothing sold on account except the necessaries of life, that such as good, substantial food and working clothes, conducive to health and comfort, at cost, that no inducements may be given for spending earnings improperly. Spirituous liquors will not be permitted.

Article VIII. All accounts must be entered in a pass-book, to be kept by each family or individual for the purpose, that no advantage be taken by incorrect charges; and no account against them will be recognized except such entry be made. No tobacco charges above fifty cents a month will be recognized by the Bureau. In all cases of the loss of their account-books, then the account in the proprietor's books must be taken to date of loss, when another pass-book must be obtained, and entries of accounts made as before.

Article IX. In all cases where an accusation is made against a person, the proprietor or his agent, one of the contractors or freedmen selected by themselves, and a third person chosen by the two,--provided neither of these three is biased or prejudiced against the accused,--shall be a competent council to investigate and acquit the accused; but in all cases where a decision is to

be made to dismiss or forfeit a share of the crop, the officer of the Bureau, or some other competent officer of the government, must preside in the council of trial, and make the decision in the case. When the proprietor is biased or prejudiced against an accused person, he must name a person to take his place in the council who shall neither be biased nor prejudiced against the accused.

Witness our hands and signs this 17th day of February, 1866.

He still indicated, by his unflagging energy and industry, as well as equitable measures, his consciousness of the immense responsibilities resting upon him.

This only served to redouble his zeal and activity, as this trait is in consonance with his character generally. In more than one instance in other days, while the political horizon seemed to increase in gloom, the man seems to have locked up more conspicuously in proportion to the exigency of the situation. Always actuated by his insatiable though laudable ambition, Major Delany leads an age in advance where others of his own people, possessed of abilities and acknowledged courage, would even hesitate to follow.

In his official duties so conscientiously did he perform his part, and so firm was he in his high-toned native pride, and honesty against bribery and partiality, that he received aid from many of those whose duties were not altogether in the same channel. Among them he mentions particularly his indebtedness to Major J. P. Roy, 6th United States Infantry, inspector general of the Department South, Colonel J. D. Green, 6th United States Infantry, commanding district, and Colonel, now General H. B. Glitz, 6th United States Infantry, then commanding the post at Hilton Head, now Charleston.

They facilitated and aided him in his official duties, as well as ameliorated the condition of the freedmen and suffering whites, refugees, and ex-slaveholders: all of these came under his department, and were constantly referred to him when not voluntarily applying. The editors of the New South, who took note of his movements, again make tension of him, in their issue of the 3d of February:--

"Major M. R. Delany, the 'black major' of the Freedmen's Bureau, is now on the right track. Comprehending the situation of affairs, he has seized at once upon its difficulties, and is doing a noble work for his race. His sympathies are, of course, with those of his own color; but, being a man of large experience, highly educated, and eminently conscientious, he does not allow prejudice to sway him one way or the other, and, consequently, he has a wonderful influence for good over the freedmen. He tells them to go to work at once; that labor surely brings its own reward; and that after one more good crop is gathered, they will find their conditions much better than at present. And he tells the planters they must be kind and just to their laborers, if they would quickly bring order out of chaos, and establish a prosperity far beyond what they ever dreamed of in the dark and dreadful era of slavery.

"Our whole community here is taking heart. One obstacle after another, to thorough regeneration, is being removed. As the planters succeed in procuring laborers, their credit is improved, and the merchants of this place come forward to assist the onward movement. Agricultural implements, seed, subsistence, and the various wants of a plantation, are being much more liberally supplied than they were a month ago. We all look forward to a large measure of success the present season."

Meanwhile, the "muster out" of the major was being talked of, which was occasioned by the disbanding of

his organization. But the following telegram from the headquarters of the department quieted the rumor for at least a time.

Headquarters Department of South Carolina,
Charleston , February 3, 1866.

To the Commanding Officer, District of Port Royal.

The major general commanding directs that Major M. R. Delany, 104th United States Colored Troops, remain, until further orders, in the performance of the duties in which he is now employed, by special orders from these headquarters. He will not for the present rejoin his regiment.

W. L. M. Burger,

Asst. Adjt. Gen.

Indorsement on above Telegram.

Headquarters, District of Port Royal,
Second Separate Brigade,
Hilton Head, S.C., February 3, 1866.

Respectfully referred to Major Delany, 104th U. S. C. T., B. R. F. & A. L., for his information and guidance

By order of A. G. Bennett.

Lt. Col. 21st U. S. C. T., Commanding District.

Charles F.Richards, 1st Lt.& A.D.C.

The interest created in his department was an acknowledged success. He had attempted and succeeded in organizing a system of labor in a place where it was previously almost wholly unknown--leaving the employee to the tender mercy of his employer, but upon equal terms. He could see order and harmony arising out of chaos and discord. He was partially satisfied, for one of his favorite measures was popular, originating from a black, for the

good of the inhabitants of his districts, black as well as whites.

His methods, and the successes attending, attracted the attention, as well as challenged the admiration, of the people in and around his post. A brother officer, bearing witness to his indefatigable labor, called attention to it, in his report to the commanding general of the Carolinas, which report induced the general to request the department at Washington to continue him in the service after his regiment should be mustered out.

By such recognition of his services and ability, emanating as it did from that distinguished commander, the black major received another offering at the shrine of his boundless ambition, which none knows better than himself how to value. Just in connection with this, we are reminded of an expression of a distinguished divine in regard to him. "Well for this country," said he, "that Martin Delany is not a white man, for he has the ambition of a devil." But when we reflect that the motive power of that conspicuous trait of his character is solely for the sake of his race, and utterly devoid of personal selfishness, one sees the beauty of the halo encircling his dusky brow, instead of the deformity of the cloven foot.

The following is the letter to which reference is made:--

Headquarters Department South Carolina .
Charleston, S.C. , January 30, 1866.

General: I have the honor to invite your attention to the following extract from a recent report of Major J. P. Roy, 6th United States Infantry, and Acting Inspector General of this

department, regarding the services of Major M. R. Delany, 104th United States Colored Troops:--

"Before closing this report, I desire to bear testimony to the efficient and able manner in which Major Delany, 104th United States Colored Troops, and agent of the Freedmen's Bureau, is performing his duties. I took occasion several times during my stay to go to his office, and hear him talk and explain matters to the freedmen. Being of their own color, they naturally reposed confidence in him. Upon the labor question he entirely reflected the views of the major general commanding, and seemed in all things to give them good and sensible advice. He is doing much good, and in the event of his regiment being mustered out, I hope he may be retained as an agent of the Freedmen's Bureau."

I have also received the same satisfactory reports from other sources, and concurring in the foregoing suggestions of Major J. P. Roy, I must respectfully recommend that Major M. R. Delany be, for the present, retained in the service of the United States. I have ordered his muster out to be postponed until a reply is received to this communication.

I have the honor to remain, general,

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

(Signed) D. E. Sickel ,

Major General Commanding ,

To Brig. Gen. E. D. Townsend ,

A. A. G. War Dept.

Headquarters Department of South Carolina ,
Charleston , S. C., January 31, 1866.

Official. W. L. M. Burger,

Brevet Lt. Col. & A. A. G.

Copy furnished Major M. R. Delany for his information.

This was soon after followed by one demonstrative of the liberality of the major general commanding, showing the great distance he had cast from him

his early Tammany Hall political education, recognizing only the true and broad republican principles of our better civilization. It redounds to his credit, and is another evidence of the impartial justice of the great secretary of war in affairs of the government, and appreciation of merit in its officers, regardless of former notions which seemed to underlie the basis of its principles. This order is fully explanatory of the retention of the black major in the service so long.

A report had been freely circulated by some persons that the old planters had petitioned the general to retain him, as he was " high in their favor ." The latter clause is admissible, as even among that peculiar class there are men who are liberal enough, by virtue of their acquirements, to respect and appreciate the dignified manhood and high moral character of the negro officer. The planters can offer no allurement sufficient to tempt him to their special interest. They cannot promise power to him, as they are devoid of it, and his own incorruptible integrity to the government is known to have caused him to peremptorily refuse all offers, on the most advantageous terms, to even enter into any speculations of cotton, or any other staple. The following order is sufficient to prove the falsity of the report.

War Department, Adjutant General's Office,
Washington , February 8, 1866.

Major General D. E. Sickles , Comm'g Dept. of South Carolina, Headquarters, Charleston, S. C.

General: I have respectfully to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 30th ultimo, recommending that Major M. R. Delany, 104th Regiment United States Colored Troops, be

retained in service, and in reply thereto, I am directed by the Secretary of War , to say that this is authority for the retention of that officer in service, until further orders from the War Department.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

(Signed) C.W. Foster ,

Asst. Adjt. Gen. Vols.

Headquarters, Department South Carolina ,
Charleston , S. C., February 12, 1866.

Official copy. W. L. M. Burger , Asst. Adjt. Gen.