19 Facts About Freedmen's Bureau


Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, usually referred to as simply the Freedmen's Bureau, was an agency of early Reconstruction, assisting freedmen in the South.

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Two years later, as a result of the inquiry the Freedmen's Bureau Bill was passed, which established the Freedmen's Bureau as initiated by U S President Abraham Lincoln.

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The Freedmen's Bureau became a part of the United States Department of War, as Congress provided no funding for it.

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Freedmen's Bureau's powers were expanded to help African Americans find family members from whom they had become separated during the war.

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Freedmen's Bureau agents served as legal advocates for African Americans in both state and federal courts, mostly in cases dealing with family issues.

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The Freedmen's Bureau encouraged former major planters to rebuild their plantations and pay wages to their formerly-enslaved workers.

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Northern Democrats opposed the Freedmen's Bureau's work, painting it as a program that would make African Americans "lazy".

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Freedmen's Bureau mission was to help solve everyday problems of the newly freed slaves, such as obtaining food, medical care, communication with family members, and jobs.

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The Freedmen's Bureau attempted to force freedwomen to work by insisting that their husbands sign contracts making the whole family available as field labor in the cotton industry, and by declaring that unemployed freedwomen should be treated as vagrants just as black men were.

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The Freedmen's Bureau did allow some exceptions, such as married women with employed husbands, and some "worthy" women who had been widowed or abandoned and had large families of small children to care for.

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The Freedmen's Bureau had an informal regional communications system that allowed agents to send inquiries and provide answers.

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Freedmen's Bureau provided transportation and room and board for teachers.

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George Ruby, an African American, served as a teacher and school administrator and as a traveling inspector for the Freedmen's Bureau, observing local conditions, aiding in the establishment of black schools, and evaluating the performance of Freedmen's Bureau field officers.

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Freedmen's Bureau agents did negotiate labor contracts, build schools and hospitals, and aid freedmen, but they struggled against the violence of the oppressive environment.

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The Freedmen's Bureau was unable to change much of the social dynamic as whites continued to seek supremacy over blacks, frequently with violence.

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Thomas Ward Osborne, the assistant commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau for Florida, was an astute politician who collaborated with the leadership of both parties in the state.

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Freedmen's Bureau had 58 clerks and superintendents of farms, paid average monthly wages $78.

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In 2000, the U S Congress passed the Freedmen's Bureau Preservation Act, which directed the National Archivist to preserve the extensive records of the Bureau on microfilm, and work with educational institutions to index the records.

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The Freedmen's Bureau Project was created as a set of partnerships between FamilySearch International and the National Archives and Records Administration, the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, and the California African American Museum.

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