FACTOID # 3: South Carolina has the highest rate of violent crimes and aggravated assaults per capita among US states.
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 


FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:



(* = Graphable)



Encyclopedia > Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands
A Bureau agent stands between an armed group of Southern whites and a group of freed slaves in this 1868 picture from Harpers' Weekly

On March 3, 1865, Congress established the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, also known as the Freedmen's Bureau, was a federal agency that was formed during Reconstruction to aid distressed refugees of the American Civil War. It became primarily an agency to help the Freedmen (freed slaves) in the South. The Bureau was established by Congress. It was part of the United States Department of War, and headed by Union General Oliver O. Howard. Fully operational[citation needed] from June 1865 through December 1868, it was disbanded by President Andrew Johnson. created to help blacks build homes and building and get schooling and life a regular life as a white person would do..... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (845x565, 137 KB) Summary image source: http://memory. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (845x565, 137 KB) Summary image source: http://memory. ... For other uses, see Reconstruction (disambiguation). ... Combatants United States of America (Union) Confederate States of America (Confederacy) Commanders Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee Strength 2,200,000 1,064,000 Casualties 110,000 killed in action, 360,000 total dead, 275,200 wounded 93,000 killed in action, 258,000 total... A freedman is a former slave who has been manumitted or emancipated. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Line drawing of the Department of Wars seal. ... The 21st Michigan Infantry, a company of Shermans veterans. ... Oliver Otis Howard (November 8, 1830 – October 26, 1909) was a career U.S. Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War. ... For other persons of the same name, see Andrew Johnson (disambiguation). ...



In 1865, its main role was providing emergency food, housing and medical aid to refugees. It could also help find families. By late 1865, it focused its work on helping the Freedmen adjust to new conditions. Its main job was setting up work opportunities and supervising labor contracts. It soon became, in effect, a military court that handled legal issues. By 1866, it was attacked by former Confederate leaders for organizing Blacks against the ruling of ised Blacks that the plantation lands of their former and employers. Although some of their subordinate agents were unscrupulous or incompetent, the majority of local Bureau agents were hindered in carrying out their duties by the opposition of former Confederates, the lack of a military presence to enforce their authority, and an excessive amount of paperwork [1]. Motto Deo Vindice (Latin: Under God, Our Vindicator) Anthem (none official) God Save the South (unofficial) The Bonnie Blue Flag (unofficial) Dixie (unofficial) Capital Montgomery, Alabama (until May 29, 1861) Richmond, Virginia (May 29, 1861–April 2, 1865) Danville, Virginia (from April 3, 1865) Language(s) English (de facto) Religion...

On March 3rd, 1865, the Freedmen’s Bureau was created by Congress to aide former slaves through education, health care and employment.

The bureau was put into effect to protect the best interests of former slaves. $17,000 was spent to help establish 4,000 schools, 100 hospitals and also homes and food for past slaves. This bureau was also designed to help these former slaves find new jobs and improve their education and health. The facilities established were put into effect for these reasons. Howard University was also established in Washington in 1867 with the help of the Freedmen’s Bureau. Howard University is a university located in Washington, D.C., USA. An historically black university, Howard was established in 1867 by congressional order and named for Oliver O. Howard. ...

The Freedmen’s Bureau was named after General Oliver Howard, who was a Civil War hero. General Howard was also the commissioner of the Bureau of the Refugees. Nearly a year after the bureau was put into effect, the Radical Republicans who put the bureau into action, attempted to increase the powers of the bureau. President Andrew Johnson vetoed this request in February of 1866. For other persons of the same name, see Andrew Johnson (disambiguation). ...


Day-to-day duties

One of the more important—but rarely emphasized—motives of the Bureau was to help solve everyday problems of the refugees. They urgently needed clothing, food, medicine, communication with family members, and jobs. The Bureau gave out about 15 million rations of food to blacks[2]. Also, the Bureau set up a system where planters could borrow rations in order to feed freedmen they employed. Though the Bureau set aside $350,000 for this service, only $35,000 was borrowed.[citation needed]

The Bureau attempted to strengthen existing medical care facilities as well as expand services into rural areas through newly established clinics. The Bureau succeeded in giving medical care to over one million people. Medical assistance and supplies as well as food were in short supply, and civil authorities often were reluctant to cooperate with the Bureau in aiding the former slaves. Despite the good intentions, efforts, and limited success of the Bureau, medical treatment of the freedmen was severely deficient. [3]

Gender roles

Freedmen's Bureau agents at first complained that freedwomen were not working as they should and were refusing to contract their labor. They attempted to make freedwomen work by insisting that their husbands sign contracts obligating the whole family to work on cotton, and by declaring that unemployed freedwomen should be treated as vagrants just as men were. The Bureau did allow some exceptions such as certain married women with employed husbands and some "worthy" women who had been widowed or abandoned and had large families of small children and thus could not work. "Unworthy" women, meaning the unruly and especially prostitutes, were the ones usually subjected to punishment for vagrancy. [4] Under slavery, marriages were informal; slavery disrupted many families as did wartime chaos. Many Freedmen attempted to find their spouses and children, and the Bureau agents helped. The Bureau had an informal regional communications system that allowed agents to send inquiries and provide answers. It sometimes provided transportation to reunite families. Freedmen and freedwomen turned to the Bureau for assistance in resolving issues of abandonment and divorce.


Women sewing at the Freedmen's Union Industrial School, Richmond, Virginia

The most widely recognized among the achievements of the Freedmen’s Bureau are its accomplishments in the field of education. George Ruby, an African American, served as teacher and school administrator and as a traveling inspector for the bureau, observing local conditions, aiding in the establishment of black schools, and evaluating the performance of Bureau field officers. His efforts met with enthusiasm for education on the part of blacks and bitter opposition, including physical violence, from many planters and other whites. [5] Overall the Bureau spent five million dollars to set up schools for blacks. By the end of 1865, more than 90,000 former slaves were enrolled as students in public schools. The Ku Klux Klan and various other similar groups had been created by that time. Attendance rates at the new schools for freedmen were between 79 and 82 percent. An important educator was Brigadier General Samuel Chapman Armstrong; as an agent of the Bureau he created and led Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute. Image File history File links Freedmen_richmond_sewing_women. ... Image File history File links Freedmen_richmond_sewing_women. ... Nickname: Motto: Sic dic Itur Ad Astra (Thus do we reach the stars) Location in the Commonwealth of Virginia Coordinates: , Country State County Independent City Government  - Mayor L. Douglas Wilder (I) Area  - City 62. ... Members of the second Ku Klux Klan at a rally during the 1920s. ... Samuel Chapman Armstrong (January 30, 1839-May 11, 1893) was an American educator and a commissioned Union officer in the American Civil War. ... Hampton University (formerly Hampton Institute) is an American University located in Hampton, Virginia. ...

By 1870, there were more than 1,000 schools for freedmen in the South.[citation needed] J. W. Alvord, an inspector for the Bureau, wrote that the freedmen "have the natural thirst for knowledge," aspire to "power and influence … coupled with learning," and are excited by "the special study of books." Among the former slaves, both children and adults indulged in this new opportunity to learn. It helped African Americans find jobs and homes. About 150 schools were opened in Texas, and 4,300 schools in all were opened for African Americans. After the Bureau was abolished, its achievements collapsed under the weight of white violence against schools and teachers and the gutting of funds for all schools by Redeemer legislatures devoted to limited government.[6]

Church establishment

The freedmen sought the Bureau's aid in establishing churches. After the war, control over existing churches was a highly contentious issue; Northern Methodists seized control of Southern Methodist buildings in some cities. Whereas whites and blacks had worshiped together before the war, now they mutually agreed[citation needed] to separate. The Bureau, with close ties to Northern Methodist and other churches, facilitated new buildings, and lenny smells though it did not spend any government money on churches. Northern mission societies collected of funds for land, buildings, teachers' salaries, and basic necessities such as books and furniture.[7] For other uses, see Methodism (disambiguation). ...


Poster attacking Freedmen's Bureau

Most of the assistant commissioners, realizing that blacks would not receive fair trials in the civil courts, tried to handle black cases in their own Bureau courts. Whites objected loudly and said this was unconstitutional. In Alabama, state and county judges were commissioned as Bureau agents. They were to try cases involving blacks with no distinctions on racial grounds. If a judge refused, martial law could be instituted in his district. All but three judges accepted their unwanted commissions, and the governor urged compliance.[8] Image File history File links Size of this preview: 760 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (1455 × 1148 pixels, file size: 861 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) image source: http://lcweb2. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 760 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (1455 × 1148 pixels, file size: 861 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) image source: http://lcweb2. ... This article is about the U.S. State. ... For other uses, see Martial law (disambiguation). ...

Perhaps the most difficult region was Louisiana's Caddo-Bossier district. It had not experienced wartime devastation or Union occupation. Understaffed and weakly supported by federal troops, well-meaning Bureau agents found their investigations blocked and authority undermined at every turn by recalcitrant planters. Murders of freedmen were common, and suspects in these cases generally went unprosecuted. Bureau agents did manage to negotiate labor contracts, build schools and hospitals,[citation needed] and provide the freedmen a sense of their own humanity through the agents' willingness to help.[9] This article is about the U.S. State. ...


  1. ^ Cimbala 1992
  2. ^ Goldhaber 1992
  3. ^ Pearson 2002
  4. ^ Farmer-Kaiser, 2004
  5. ^ Crouch 1997
  6. ^ Goldhaber 1992
  7. ^ Morrow 1954
  8. ^ Foner 1988
  9. ^ Smith 2000

See also

Race and health research is mostly from the US. It has found both current and historical racial differences in the frequency, treatments, and availability of treatments for several diseases. ... The Freedmans Saving and Trust Company, popularly known as the Freedmans Savings Bank, was a financial organization created by the U.S. government to encourage and guide the economic development of the newly-emancipated African-American communities in the post-Civil War period. ...


  • see also Reconstruction: Bibliography

Primary sources


  • Bentley George R. A History of the Freedmen's Bureau (1955)
  • Carpenter, John A.; Sword and Olive Branch: Oliver Otis Howard (1999) full biography of Bureau leader
  • Cimbala, Paul A. and Trefousse, Hans L. (eds.) The Freedmen's Bureau: Reconstructing the American South After the Civil War. 2005. essays by scholars
  • W. E. Burghardt Du Bois, "The Freedmen's Bureau" (1901) by leading black scholar
  • Foner Eric. Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (1988) general history
  • Litwack, Leon F. Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery. 1979. Winner of Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award.
  • McFeely, William S. Yankee Stepfather: General O.O. Howard and the Freedmen. 1994.


  • Anderson, James D. The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860-1935 (1988)
  • Butchart, Ronald E. Northern Schools, Southern Blacks, and Reconstruction: Freedmen's Education, 1862-1875 (1980)
  • Crouch, Barry A. "Black Education in Civil War and Reconstruction Louisiana: George T. Ruby, the Army, and the Freedmen's Bureau" Louisiana History 1997 38(3): 287-308. Issn: 0024-6816
  • Goldhaber, Michael. "A Mission Unfulfilled: Freedmen's Education in North Carolina, 1865-1870" Journal of Negro History 1992 77(4): 199-210. Issn: 0022-2992
  • Jones, Jacqueline. Soldiers of Light and Love: Northern Teachers and Georgia Blacks, 1865-1873 U of North Carolina Press 1980
  • Morris, Robert C. Reading, 'Riting, and Reconstruction: The Education of Freedmen in the South, 1861-1870 1981.
  • Richardson, Joe M. Christian Reconstruction: The American Missionary Association and Southern Blacks, 1861-1890 U of Georgia Press, 1986
  • Span, Christopher M. "'I Must Learn Now or Not at All': Social and Cultural Capital in the Educational Initiatives of Formerly Enslaved African Americans in Mississippi, 1862-1869," The Journal of African American History, 2002 pp 196-222
  • Swint, Henry Lee. The Northern Teacher in the South: 1862-1870 (New York, 1967).
  • Williams, Heather Andrea; "'Clothing Themselves in Intelligence': The Freedpeople, Schooling, and Northern Teachers, 1861-1871" The Journal of African American History 2002. pp 372+.
  • Williams, Heather Andrea. Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom U of North Carolina Press, 2006

Specialized studies

  • Bethel, Elizabeth . "The Freedmen's Bureau in Alabama," Journal of Southern History Vol. 14, No. 1, Feb., 1948 pp. 49-92 online at JSTOR
  • Cimbala, Paul A. "On the Front Line of Freedom: Freedmen's Bureau Officers and Agents in Reconstruction Georgia, 1865-1868". Georgia Historical Quarterly 1992 76(3): 577-611. Issn: 0016-8297.
  • Cimbala, Paul A. Under the Guardianship of the Nation: the Freedmen's Bureau and the Reconstruction of Georgia, 1865-1870 U. of Georgia Press, 1997.
  • Click, Patricia C. Time Full of Trial: The Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony, 1862-1867 (2001)]
  • Crouch, Barry. The Freedmen's Bureau and Black Texans (1992)
  • Crouch; Barry A. "The 'Chords of Love': Legalizing Black Marital and Family Rights in Postwar Texas" The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 79, 1994
  • Durrill, Wayne K. "Political Legitimacy and Local Courts: 'Politicks at Such a Rage' in a Southern Community during Reconstruction" in Journal of Southern History, Vol. 70 #3, 2004 pp 577-617
  • Farmer-Kaiser, Mary. "’Are They Not in Some Sorts Vagrants?’ Gender and the Efforts of the Freedmen's Bureau to Combat Vagrancy in the Reconstruction South” Georgia Historical Quarterly 2004 88(1): 25-49. Issn: 0016-8297
  • Finley, Randy. From Slavery to Uncertain Future: the Freedmen's Bureau in Arkansas, 1865-1869 U. of Arkansas Press, 1996.
  • Gerteis, Louis S. From Contraband to Freedmen: Federal Policy toward Southern Blacks, 1861-1865 1973.
  • Kolchin, Peter. First Freedom: The Responses of Alabama's Blacks to Emancipation and Reconstruction 1972.
  • Lieberman, Robert C. "The Freedmen's Bureau and the Politics of Institutional Structure" Social Science History 1994 18(3): 405-437. Issn: 0145-5532
  • Lowe, Richard. "The Freedman's Bureau and Local Black Leadership" Journal of American History 1993 80(3): 989-998. Issn: 0021-8723
  • Morrow Ralph Ernst. "The Northern Methodists in Reconstruction". Mississippi Valley Historical Review 41 (September 1954): 197-218. in JSTOR
  • May J. Thomas. "Continuity and Change in the Labor Program of the Union Army and the Freedmen's Bureau". Civil War History 17 (September 1971): 245-54.
  • Oubre, Claude F. Forty Acres and a Mule: The Freedmen's Bureau and Black Land Ownership 1978.
  • Pearson, Reggie L. "'There Are Many Sick, Feeble, and Suffering Freedmen': the Freedmen's Bureau's Health-care Activities During Reconstruction in North Carolina, 1865-1868" North Carolina Historical Review 2002 79(2): 141-181. Issn: 0029-2494 .
  • Quarles, Benjamin. The Negro in the Civil War'. Russell & Russell. (1953)
  • Richter, William L. Overreached on All Sides: The Freedmen's Bureau Administrators in Texas, 1865-1868 1991.
  • Ransom, Roger L. Conflict and Compromise. Cambridge University Press. 1989. economic history
  • Oubre, Claude F. Forty Acres and a Mule. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge and London. 1978.
  • Rodrigue, John C. "Labor Militancy and Black Grassroots Political Mobilization in the Louisiana Sugar Region, 1865-1868" in Journal of Southern History, Vol. 67 #1, 2001 pp 115-45
  • Schwalm, Leslie A. "'Sweet Dreams of Freedom': Freedwomen's Reconstruction of Life and Labor in Lowcountry South Carolina Journal of Women's History, Vol. 9 #1, 1997 pp 9-32
  • Smith, Solomon K. "The Freedmen's Bureau in Shreveport: the Struggle for Control of the Red River District" Louisiana History 2000 41(4): 435-465. Issn: 0024-6816
  • Williamson, Joel. After Slavery: The Negro in South Carolina during Reconstruction, 1861-1877 1965.
  • Freedmen's Bureau in Texas

  1. ^ Cimbala 1992
  2. ^ Goldhaber 1992
  3. ^ Pearson 2002
  4. ^ Farmer-Kaiser, 2004
  5. ^ Crouch 1997
  6. ^ Goldhaber 1992
  7. ^ Morrow 1954
  8. ^ Foner 1988
  9. ^ Smith 2000

External links



Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m