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The Freedmen's Bureau Online

Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Georgia
Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 1865 - 1869
National Archives Publication M798 Roll 36
"Unbound Miscellaneous Papers"

Petition to the Asst. Commissioner by James Mackey & 200 Others

To Col. C. C. Sibley, Assistant Commissioner of the Freedman's Bureau for the State of Georgia.

We the colored labours of the city of Savannah pray that you will be pleased to protect us and our families from Starvation and Threatened outrage of the Mayor of the said city, and under under a misconception of the word Porter in the city laws which we have had no voice in enacting; notwithstanding "all just laws derive their powers from the consent of the governed." This city ordinance or regulation "is a violation of the first section of the Civil Rights Bill," the same right to make and enforce contracts "on the docks," and "to full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings," which we have not.

And your humble Petitioners further says, that they are not Porters nor Stewards, but Labors and the city ordinance requires that all Porters shall have a badge which does not in law apply to a common Labor. 10 (illegible), 4 chapter, 40th section 14 and also law Dictionarys.

And your humble Petitioners comes and call your attention to the 14th Section of Freedmen's Bureau Bill of June 11th, 1866 in these words, to wit: "That in every State or District where the ordinary course of judicial proceedings has been interrupted by the rebellion, and until the same shall be duly represented in the Congress of the United States personal liberty, enjoyment and including the Constitutional right to bear arms shall be secured without respect to race or color or previous condition of Slavery. And the President shall, through the commissioner and the officers of the Bureau extend military protection and have military jurisdiction over all cases & questions concerning the free enjoyments of such immunities & rights." Sec. 14. Therefore we pray that you may "extend military protection" to the poor Colored Labors of the city of Savannah that we may not be made paupers under the unconstitutional statutes and ordinances, regulations or customs not yet recognized by the Congress of the United States.

James Mackey of the Union League and 200 others.

A. Alpeora Bradley
Atty. for Petitioners