Instructions to Tax Commissioners in South Carolina

September 16, 1863

The Hon: Abraham D. Smith, Hon: William E. Wording, and Hon: William Henry Brisbane, Tax Commissioners for the District of South Carolina:

Whereas, you were duly appointed a Board of Tax Commissioners, for the District of South Carolina, wherein by reason of insurrection and rebellion, the civil authority of the Government of the United States, has been and continues to be obstructed, so that the provisions of the act entitled “An act to provide increased revenue from imports, to pay interest on the public debt, and for other purposes,” approved August. 5. 1861, could not be peaceably executed; and

Whereas, heretofore, to wit, in the months of February and March of the present year, you as Commissioners aforesaid caused certain lots and parcels of land situated in the Parish of St. Helena in said State, to be sold for the direct taxes, unpaid and charged on the same: and

Whereas, at said sale you struck off to the United States, divers of said lots and parcels of land at certain sums, equal in each case, to at least the tax penalty and costs, and ten per cent interest on said tax charged on each lot or parcel of land respectively; pursuant to public notice therefore given; and

Whereas, the owners of said lots and parcels of land so struck off to the United States, have abandoned the same, and have not paid the taxes thereon, nor redeemed them, and

Whereas, you have represented to me that you are satisfied that the said owners have left the said lots and parcels of land to engage in and abet the said rebellion.

Now therefore, these presents, witness that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, pursuant to the provisions of the Act of Congress, entitled, “An act for the collection of direct taxes in insurrectionary districts within the United States and for other purposes” approved on the 7th day of June A.D. 1862, and the amendments thereto, approved on the Sixth day of February A.D. 1863, have issued and hereby do issue these my instructions and directions to you, as the board of Tax Commissioners aforesaid, in the manner and form following, that is to say:

First. You will cause the said lands, except such as in these instructions are particularly excepted or provided for, to be surveyed and subdivided and sold at public sale, in parcels not to exceed three hundred and twenty acres to any one purchaser, after giving due notice thereof for sixty days, as upon the sale of other public lands to be sold on the terms prescribed in the eleventh section of the act entitled “An act for the collection of direct taxes, in insurrectionary districts, within the United States, and for other purposes,” and of the act amendatory of the same, approved the sixth day of February A.D. 1863.

Second. If upon such sale, any person serving in the army or navy or marine corps, shall become a purchaser, and shall pay one fourth part of the purchase money pursuant to the provisions of the said eleventh section of the said act of congress, the said Commissioners shall issue a certificate for the said tract or parcel of land so purchased, subject nevertheless to the payment of the residue of the purchase money in three years from the date of said sale, either in money or in certificates of indebtedness of the United States, and subject also to the condition that he, his heirs or assigns shall commit no waste upon the premises sold: and in case he or they shall fail to pay the residue of the said purchase money, within the time limited for the payment, thereof, or shall at any time prior to the full payment of the purchase money in cash or in certificates of indebtedness as aforesaid, with interest, if any, due upon the same, together with costs, commit any waste, it shall and may be lawful for said Commissioners, or their successors in office, to enter upon the said premises and to sell the same for the payment of the purchase money due the United States, returning the over-plus, if any there shall be, to the said purchaser, his heirs or assigns holding the said land, which conditions shall be fully set out in the certificate of the commissioners.

You will cause the plantations on St. Helena Island & known as Lands End, and the Ben. Chaplin place to be laid off and divided into town lots of such size as you may judge proper, not exceeding five acres each, and you will proceed to sell all said lots not needed or selected for Government purposes at public sale, for cash. Or if to any person or persons serving in the army or navy or marine corps, on the terms provided in the 11th section of the act of congress hereinbefore mentioned, and subject to the conditions stated in these instructions in case of sales to such person or persons serving as aforesaid. Prior to making sale of said lots, you will cause the corners of the same to be permanently marked and duplicate plots or drafts of said lots to be made, describing them accurately by metes and bounds thereof, or other definite description, and you will cause said copies to be duly authenticated under your hands, one whereof you will transmit to the office of the Secretary of the Treasury to be filed therein.

There are excepted from these instructions to sell parts of the following tracts of land which are reserved for the use of the United States, for war, military, naval, revenue and police purposes:

On St. Helena Island, Eddings Point, St. Helenaville, St. Helenaville Co., pine land, Lands End, and the Ben Chaplin place.

On Coosaw Island, Coosaw.

On Ladies Island, White Hall and Laurel Bay.

On Port Royal Island, the Hermitage, the Cottage, the Old Fort, The Farm, Pigeon Point, the Campbell place, the Bell place, Magnolia, and the Middleton Steward place; and On Parrys Island, the Means place.

Also, on Hunting Island, and on Phillips Island the woodland tracts deemed necessary for the use of the United States.

And you will cause the said parts, so reserved as aforesaid, to be surveyed, and duplicate plots and drafts of the same to be made, describing the same by metes and bounds, or other definite description; one of which plots or drafts, duly authenticated under your hands, you will cause to be filed in the office of the Secretary of the Treasury.

You will set apart for school purposes in a convenient from for use as a farm or farms, one or more tracts, (which are hereby excepted from the operation of said instructions to sell) a part or parts of the said land so purchased in (and) by you and belonging to the United States as aforesaid, not exceeding 160 acres in each, and including such dwelling house or houses and out buildings, as may be upon either of the following named plantations, on St. Helena Island—The Oaks, Indian Hill, The Thomas James Tripp place, Cedar Grove, the McTurens lands, Frogmore, the Frank Prichard place, the Oliver Tripp place, the Wallace place, and Eddings Point, and the whole of the Thomas B. Chaplin place, the Grove, and the Baker place. On Coosaw Island, Coosaw, On Ladies Island—Orange Grove, White Hall, the James Chaplin place, including the Saxby Chaplin lot, Pleasant Point, the John Johnson place, Springfield, the Williams place and the Capers place; On Port Royal Island—the Cottage, the Old Fort, Swamp Place, Halfway House, Gray Hill, the the [sic] Middleton Stuart place, Oak Mulligan, Little Baynard, the Rhett Place, Laurel Bay and the Thompson place, and on Parry’s Island—the Fuller place and the Means place.

You will cause the parts of the said tracts and parcels of land so set apart as aforesaid to be surveyed and accurately described by metes and bounds or other definite description, and the corners thereof, to be permanently marked, and duplicate plots and drafts of the same to be made and duly authenticated under your hands, one copy of which you will cause to be filed in the office of the Secretary of the Treasury.

The lands so set apart you will let and lease for such terms not exceeding five years, and on such conditions as you may deem eligible, reserving the rents and issues thereof to yourselves and your successors in office, and you will take receive and collect such rents and issues and appropriate and apply the same to the education of colored youths, and of such poor white persons, being minors, as may by themselves, parents, guardians, or next friends, apply for the benefit thereof, and you are authorized to establish such schools, and to direct the tuition of such branches of learning as you in your judgment shall deem most eligible, subject nevertheless to the general direction and control of the Secretary of the Treasury.

And there is also excepted and reserved out of and from the said lands so purchased by the United States, and directed to be sold as aforesaid, all parts of the following tracts of land not otherwise appropriated, to wit: On St. Helena Island, the Oaks, Oakland, Indian Hill, Eddings point, The Thomas James Tripp place, Cedar Grove, The Hamilton Tripp place, the McTurens lands, Hope place, Woodstock, Frogmore, the Frank Prichard place, the Jane Prichard place, the Scott place, the Oliver Tripp place[,] the Wallace place, the Fendon place. On Coosaw Island, Coosaw and Corn Island; On Ladies’ Island, Orange Grove, the Hazel Farm, White Hall, the James Chaplin place, Pleasant Point, the John Johnson place, Springfield, Laurel Bay, the Williams place, and the Capers place. On Port Royal Island—the Farm, the Old Fort, Polly’s Grove, the Bell place, the Campbell place, the Swamp place, Halfway House, Grays Hill, Magnolia, the Middleton Stuart place, Oak Mulligan, the John F Chaplin place, Oakland, Little Baynard, Jericho, the Oswald place, the Ellis place, the Rhett place, and Laurel Bay, and on Parry’s Island, the Fuller place, the Elliott place No 1. The Elliott place No. 2[,] the El[l]iott place No. 3, and the Means place

And you will cause the same to be surveyed and to be particularly described by metes and bounds or other definite description, and to be divided into lots and parcels not exceeding twenty acres each, corners of which you will cause to be permanently designated by stones planted, or by marked trees or other suitable monuments. In case of irregularity in the boundaries of tracts or plantations, between those which have been or may be selected for specific purposes, and those which are not so selected, you will not be strictly limited to such boundaries but may conform the division to the general lines of the new survey.

And you will cause accurate plots or drafts of the surveys to be made, exhibiting the said subdivisions of twenty acres each, duly authenticated under your hands, one whereof shall be filed in the office of the Secretary of the Treasury.

You are further directed to issue certificates for the said lots and parcels of land to the heads of families of the African race, one only to each, preferring such as by their good conduct, meritorious services or exemplary character, will be examples of moral propriety and industry to those of the same race, for the charitable purpose of providing homes for such heads of families and their families respectively, so as to give them an interest in the soil, and to form an industrial settlement of worthy persons of said race, they the said heads of families paying to the Commissioners such sum not less than $1.25 per acre as the said commissioners shall designate and determine as proper to be charged for the said lands, in view of the charitable purposes aforesaid.

And you are further instructed to announce in your advertisement of the sale of said lands so directed to be sold as aforesaid, that the same will be set up for sale at $1.25 an acre each, and that the same will not be sold unless the bids advance beyond that price.

Where any tracts or lots of land have erected thereon dwelling houses, barns or other out houses, you will appraise the same at what you deem the cash value thereof, and in case the said lots or tracts of land on which the said buildings are erected shall fail when offered for sale as aforesaid to be bid up to a sum equal to one third part of the appraised value thereof, you will cause the same to be withdrawn from sale, and to be readvertised and again offered for sale as soon as conveniently practicable on the same conditions as are stated in these instructions.

In order to enable you so to protect the interests of the United States, you will in your written conditions of sale reserve a single bid to be publicly made by the Commissioners or by their authority of such a sum as you may deem eligible not less than one third of the appraised value.

In case on a third attempt, you shall fail to sell such lands as may be offered for sale as aforesaid, or any of them, after again advertising them as above directed, you will sell them to the highest bidder, if the Secretary of the Treasury shall so direct, upon report to him of your proceedings.

You will keep a book or books, in which you will enter or cause to be entered, full descriptions of the said lands so to be surveyed as aforesaid, with a draft or plot of each survey, exhibiting the subdivisions, if any, and you shall also make an entry therein of each tract and lot sold, with the name of the purchaser, and the sum for which the same may be sold, the date of the sale, and the date of the issuing of the certificates to the purchasers, and you shall also particularly describe and set out in said book the tracts reserved for the use of the United States for military, naval, revenue and police purposes, and the tract or tracts also set apart for school purposes, and you will make an entry of each tract for which a certificate shall be given to any colored citizen, being the head of a family as aforesaid, together with the name of such head of family and the sum of money with which he shall be charged for any lot for which a certificate shall be given him and the date of the issue of such certificate, and you will cause transcripts of said book or books duly verified by you, to be filed in the office of the Secretary of the Treasury, and when your commission shall expire you shall cause said book or books to be filed in said office.

You will also sell at public sale after giving notice as aforesaid, all the lots and buildings in the town of Beaufort and State aforesaid struck off to the United States, at such sale and not redeemed. Prior to making such sale you will appraise the said lots and buildings at their cash value, and in case any of the same on being offered for sale shall not be bid to one third of the appraised value, you will cause the same to be with-drawn from sale, and upon being advertised to be again offered for sale, and if after being so advertised and offered a third time for sale, it shall fail to be bid to one fifth of its appraised value, you will sell the same to the highest bidder, if on report of your proceedings to the Secretary of the Treasury, he shall deem it eligible so to do. The conditions of sale in each case shall be the same as those above stated in relation to the plantations or tracts of land to be sold pursuant to these instructions.

In your conditions of sale of the said town of Beaufort, you are authorized to protect the interests of the United States by reserving a bid on each or any of the said lots or buildings, to be made by the Commissioners or by some one by their authority, to be publicly made, for such sum as you may deem proper. Witness, my hand, this 16th. day of September AD. 1863. ABRAHAM LINCOLN

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