TEXT

Army Office Letter and “I am Committee” Broadside

This letter and accompanying broadside outlines rules for African Americans made by an unknown source.
Grade Level

This text is part of the Teaching Hard History Text Library and aligns with Key Concepts 4 and 8.

broadside

 

I AM COMMITTEE

1st. No man shall squat negroes on his place unless they are all under his employ male and female.

2d. Negro women shall be employed by white persons.

3d. All children shall be hired out for something.

4th. Negroes found in cabins to themselves shall suffer the penalty.

5th. Negroes shall not be allowed to hire negroes.

6th. Idle men, women or children, shall suffer the penalty.

7th. All white men found with negroes in secret places shall be dealt with and those that hire negroes must pay promptly and act with good faith to the negro. I will make the negro do his part, and the white must too.

8th. For the first offence is one hundred lashes—the second is looking up a sap lin.

9th. This I do for the benefit of all young or old, high and tall, black and white. Anyone that may not like these rules can try their luck, and see whether or not I will be found doing my duty.

10th. Negroes found stealing from any one or taking from their employers to other negroes, death is the first penalty.

11th. Running about late of nights shall be strictly dealt with.

12th. White man and negro, I am everywhere. I have friends in every place, do your duty and I will have but little to do.

 

Army Officer at Gallatin, Tennessee, to the Headquarters of the Department of the Tennessee, Enclosing an Anonymous Broadside

Gallatin Tenn  Jan 29. 67.

Colonel,

I have the honor to report that I have taken from a house at “Cross Plains” in Robertson Co, 200 copies of the enclosed “circular”: a number of copies had been distributed to certain persons in that neighborhood, and by some of them, read to the colored people living about, at the same time notifying them that they had “been appointed to “see the rules enforced”, and that they intended to do it

Several of the “circulars” have been nailed to the doors of houses located in that vicinity, about Richland, near this place, and near Springfield Tenn,

I am not certain that any of “the penalties” have been inflicted, the negroes are held in such a state of terror that they dare not tell, and the whites, from sympathy with the villains, will not.

I respectfully ask to be informed if the Dept Commander has any instructions to give in this case

I would also ask if General Order No 44 A.G.O. July 6. '66 has been superseded by any subsequent order. I am sir Very Respectfully Your Obedient Servant

Cha B. Brady

Source
This text is in the public domain. Retrieved from http://www.freedmen.umd.edu/Brady.html.
Text Dependent Questions
Question
According to the army officer, how is the community responding to the posting of the broadside (“circular”)?
Answer
He says the African Americans are “in such a state of terror.” He also states that the White population has sympathy for the “villains” or author(s) of the broadside. They are not disclosing if any of the punishments were carried out.
Question
What kind of rules does it state related to African Americans?
Answer
Generally, it makes rules about working and social relations. In terms of work, they must have employment by Whites and are not allowed to be “idle,” meaning they must be working. This applies to men, women, and children. Regarding social relations, they may not be in “secret places” with white people, implying miscegenation. African Americans are also not allowed to be out late at night.
Question
What are the punishments?
Answer
For the first offense, the offender receives 100 lashes/whippings. The second offense results in “looking up a sap lin[g]”, likely referring to them being hung from a tree. It also states that theft will result in death.
Question
“Any one that may not like these rules try their luck, and see whether or not I will be found doing my duty.” What does this indicate about the person(s) who posted the broadside?
Answer
Answers may vary: This suggests that it is a private citizen, rather than someone in law enforcement. It also suggests it is an individual person, as they refer to themselves in the first person singular.
Question
“White man and negro, I am everywhere. I have friends in every place, do your duty and I will but little to do.” Why might the anonymous poster address this point to both white people and black people?
Answer
By addressing both races, the poster states that he expects all to enforce and follow these rules. Thus, this is a threat concerning not only following the rules laid out, but also not challenging them, even if discussing them in private conversation. This is a means to intimidate all members of society into abiding by a race-based social structure.
Question
This broadside was posted in 1867, two years after the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States. Considering this context, what is the intended purpose of the broadside?
Answer
In addition to intimidating all members of society, white and black, to abide by a race-based social structure, it is placing strict rules on what African Americans can/cannot do. This restricts their activities in a way that reflects slavery, particularly as many of the rules relate to working. Thus, even though African Americans are all “free,” they still have may laws (governmental or otherwise) restricting their actions.