Hannibal Mo Jan. 12th 1865–
Sir– I find that many of the Citizens of my Sub: Dist: especially the disloyal element–are anticipating the action of the state convention 1 and send their negroes adrift at such time as it suits them–and it is working very badly indeed up here– The negro men have left their masters some time since–and those now on hand are principally women & children–and they being found rather unprofitable, and expensive–are turned loose upon the people to support– Their former owners make no provision for them, save hauling them to within a convenient distance of some military post, and set them out with orders to never return home–telling them they are free. There has one case come to my knowledge where the sons of an old man–drove the negroes off from the place–because the old man began to show signs of recognizing five of his servants as half brothers & sisters to his children lawfully begotten– I have in two instances ordered that the former owners shall take care of these helpless negroes until some other provision is made for them–and I think some action should be taken to let the rebels generally know that they shall not shirk in this manner. They, I think, fear the convention will resolve–that they shall take care of their helpless negroes on hand, until they get large enough to take care of themselves–
. . . .
John F. Tyler–
Excerpt from Col. John F. Tyler to Col. J. H. Baker, 12 Jan. 1865, N-66 1865, Letters Received, series 2786, Provost Marshal General, Department of the Missouri, U.S. Army Continental Commands, Record Group 393 Pt. 1, National Archives. No reply has been found in the letters-sent volumes of the department's provost marshal general.
1. In the fall elections of 1864, Missouri voters had approved a call for, and elected delegates to, a state convention that would consider measures to abolish slavery. Assembling early in 1865, the convention on January 11 adopted a constitutional amendment providing for immediate and uncompensated emancipation, which, by proclamation of the governor, went into effect the same day.
Published in The Wartime Genesis of Free Labor: The Upper South, pp. 612–13, in Families and Freedom, p. 101, and in Free at Last, pp. 378–79.