We publish an engraving on page 661 illustrating the celebration of the last Fourth of July at Richmond by the American Union Commission. The tent of the Commission was spread upon the park surrounding the State buildings. It was a great day for the colored population of the city of
Richmond, who had never had an Independence Day before.
The American Union Commission is the continuation, in some sort, of the Christian Commission,-and is an organization entirely independent of the Freedmen's Bureau or the Freedmen's Society. Its purpose is to aid and cooperate with the people in those portions of the South which have been desolated and impoverished by the war, in the restoration of their civil and social condition upon the basis of industry, education, freedom, and Christian morality. In the prosecution of this purpose it contemplates the relief of poverty and distress, the encouragement of a healthful emigration, and of a patriotic devotion to the Union.
The Commission recognizes no distinctions of caste or color. It includes leading men of all denominations its organization. It embraces Commissions organized in the cities of New York, Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Nashville, Richmond, and other points united in one national board. It has the sanction of the National Government, and receives transportation and other facilities from the War Department.
The labors of the Commission at Richmond alone may be stated as follows: ninety thousand rations of flour have been distributed, seventy-five thousand rations of soup, eight thousand papers of garden seeds, and one hundred and fifty farming implements. Besides these, many delicacies have been given to the sick, for whom has been procured also careful medical attendance. Two hundred and fifty children have been supplied with school instruction, and thousands of books and papers have been gratuitously distributed. At other points in the South the Commission can show a record which will commend it to every philanthropist.