Details For Cover ID# 29861

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Cover Type: USA domestic with stamp(s)
Entered by: kenlawrence
Added on:Feb 8, 24
Edited on:Feb 8, 24
Postmark: Aug 27, 1866 (Freedmen's Bureau Cover)
Origin: Louisville, Kentucky, UNITED STATES
Destination: Brooklyn, New York, UNITED STATES
On March 3, 1865, an act of Congress created the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands — better known as the Freedmen’s Bureau — as a War Department agency responsible for administering matters relating to former slaves and to lands in the southern states that had been abandoned or seized during the Civil War.

The duties of the Freedmen’s Bureau were to serve, educate, and protect emancipated African Americans after emancipation. These included distributing food and clothing, operating hospitals and refugee camps, managing apprenticeship and employment disputes, assisting the establishment of schools and benevolent societies, providing transportation to reunite families that had been separated, helping to legalize marriages entered into during slavery, and administering justice.

As a state that remained loyal to the Union, Kentucky was not subject to Abraham Lincoln’s January 1, 1863, Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves only in states that were in rebellion. Slavery was finally abolished in Kentucky when the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in December 1865.

The Freedmen’s Bureau began its Kentucky operations in March 1866, almost a year after the Confederate army surrendered at Appomattox. Bvt. Brig. Gen. C.H. Frederick served as superintendent of the Louisville sub-district from April 1866 to April 1867. On the Aug. 27, 1866, he sent this cover, from Frederick to his wife in Brooklyn, N.Y. He struck through the “Official Business” endorsement because it enclosed a personal letter

About the time he sent the letter Frederick was involved in an important test of the federal Civil Rights Act, which had become effective in April 1866 when Congress overrode President Andrew Johnson’s veto.

Technically, Kentucky was not subject to Reconstruction. Not having seceded from the union, it did not need to be “reconstructed” as a state of the Union. But Kentucky’s legacy as a slave state, and the white-supremacist terrorism inflicted on many of the state’s former slaves in the aftermath of emancipation, did not differ significantly from violence that erupted in states of the former Confederacy.

On May 23, 1866, the Courier Journal reported: "OUTRAGE IN NELSON COUNTY—THREE NEGROES ROBBED AND ONE HUNG BY GUERRILLAS. For two or three days past, our efficient city detective officer, D.T. Bligh, and Capt. Gilmore, Chief, have been ferreting out a shameful robbery and attempted murder perpetrated in Nelson county on Wednesday night, the 4th inst.

"The authors of this outrage were Thomas Vickers, alias Texas, John Rhodes and John Seward—all notorious for their guerrilla operations in this State during and since the war. . . .

"On the night above stated, these cowardly scamps went to the house of an old negro man named Stephen Scott, near Nelson Furnace, six miles from Lebanon Junction. They broke in, and after beating the inmates (three negro boarders and old Uncle Stephen) in a most unmerciful manner, robbed them of all their money, and pillaged the house and premises of everything valuable.

"One of the boarders, who unfortunately had no money, was hung to a tree, the object of the ruffians being to extort from him the hiding-place of his treasure. Through the interference of Texas, we are told, the negro was lowered to the ground barely in time to save his life.

"Some of the gang then turned upon a colored woman in the house and attempted to violate her. Here the compunctious Texas again came to the rescue, and prevented the commission of the deed.

"By order of Gen. John Ely, chief superintendent of the Freedmen’s Bureau in Kentucky, the accused criminals were committed to military prison, and ordered to be tried by Frederick. (Kentucky law forbade African Americans to testify in court, but the Civil Rights Act guaranteed equal treatment, which federal tribunals assured.)

"The men were subsequently indicted for burglary and larceny, and were tried under the Civil Rights Act in October 1866. A jury convicted them in a federal trial. On appeal they claimed that the act was unconstitutional, and that Negro testimony should not have been allowed. The verdicts were upheld; in October 1867 all three men were sentenced to five years in prison on each of two counts."

Certificate? No
For Sale? Yes, for US$ 1000.   Interested in this cover? Contact kenlawrence.
Stampless? No
Stamps:Stamp images are from reference catalog. Click image to view at larger resolution.
[SNS 18] SNS# 18 [1861 3¢ Rose - USA Stamps 1861-1865 Issue]