Posts Tagged ‘S. W. Groesbeck’

The Circular Letter Report: August 31, 1866

April 8, 2019

More from the Freedmen’s Bureau’s letter from the Knoxville office. These images are from FamilySearch’s undigitized images, “Roll 16 (T142), Letters sent, vol 119, July 1866-Apr 1867″. These pertain to the office in Knoxville, Tennessee, directly after the Civil War.

CircularLetterReport 8-31-1866 P1

Page 19


Bureau of F and AL

Superintendents Office

Knoxville Aug. 31, 1866

Bvt Brig Genl F E Trotter

Chief Supt etc Chattanooga Tenn.


In compliance with circular letter from your office of Aug 7, 1866, I have the honor to report as follows.

In regard to the relations existing between the whites and Blacks of this city of Knoxville and immediate vicinity I can report favorably. The Police however occasionally beat and (illegible) on the blacks on short pretexts and for reasons existing in their prejudices for the Negro only and not for any violation of the law. This disposition on the part of the police may be considered a reliable index to the feelings & sentiments of the more ignorant white population toward the black. Still in every instance that has been brought to my attention of manifest injustice toward the blacks, there have been men among the better informed and more respectable classes to come forward and secure justice in favor of the injured parties. This unproved disposition among the better classes of society here is becoming so manifest that I do not hesitate to say that the time is rapidly approaching when the colored people will receive ample protection by the courts of this County.

In the Country Districts the case is different if the complaints and representations made by the blacks to this office (illegible) in a limited sense to select upon. They

CircularLetterReport 8-31-1866 P2 and P3

Pages 2 and 3

represent that the ignorant white “low down” treat them with Great violence & I disregard their sorry right. Ordering them from their cabins with out any other pretext show as it some times happens a drunken whine and then help themselves to whatever may please their fancy or satisfy their appetites, rob other in open day of the poultry from their yards and threaten them with death if they dare to oppose them. They are often stoned or otherwise beaten and mal treated for attempting to protect their families from shameless insults or their property from loss. If they presume to lay their complaints before their county magistrates they are either denied the right to testify in the courts, or if their case be admitted to trial supported by their own evidence they are sure to lose it and have the costs to pay.

The foregoing statements are to well sustained by facts to admit of doubt and so long as such outrages once permitted to be openly perpetrated in the face of a public sentiment which fails to punish the guilty parties or some fail to protest against such conduct on their part so long will some one clothed with extraordinary authority be required in these districts to receive the ends of Justice and prompt what in time if no change is made for the better must lead to unhappy and (illegible) conflicts between the whites and blacks.

I can submit nothing more than these general statements, for although I am well convinced of their truth in the main I have not been able to visit the districts said to or ill disposed to the negro and consequently do not feel at liberty to report names or designate acts as outrages and close here as such without having full and direct evidence of all the facts in relation to them.

Enclosed herewith find tabular statements made in compliance with Circular No 14 Asst Com’s office C. S. 1866.

Very respectfully

Your obt Servt.

S. W. Groesbeck

Lt. A D C & Supt etc