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The Freedmen’s Bureau was a government agency enacted March 3, 1865. The purpose of this organization was to aid and protect the newly freed slaves in the south after the Civil War. This was a very influential agency and some people would find it to be a major influence in the life of newly freed slaves. In this paper I will explain to you the purpose, the events that led up to the Freedmen’s Bureau, and the people that influenced the Freedmen’s Bureau.
The purpose of the bureau was to provide food and medical care to the freedmen of the south. This bureau was only supposed to be in effect for one year; however, congress extended it contrary to the veto Andrew Johnson. In addition to providing food and medical care to the freedmen of the south; the bureau also helped to manage abandon property, establish schools, and regulate labor. The bureau was successful in educating the freedmen, but was very unsuccessful in establishing land. It was very hard for the newly freed slaves to own land or anything for that manner and it took a very long time to establish anything major for them.
Later on after the act was established the freedmen were granted 85,000 acres of land but President Andrew Johnson revoked the land and gave it to the Confederate landowners. After the land was revoked the bureau focused on employment for the freedmen. They were able to acquire employment working on plantations; however, this became a problem when they became sharecroppers and tenant farmers. The bureau had many problems but all in all they did work hard to help the newly freed slaves establish the rights that they weren’t able to obtain.
The freedmen’s bureau was established on the sympathy of a Civil War hero. He felt sorry for the blacks that had to transition from captivity to freedom so suddenly. After President Johnson unconstitutionally vetoed the bill, congress passed the bill over his veto. Whites in the south were opposed to African Americans having rights, and the bureau didn’t have the proper military force in place to establish any authority. Eventually the military had the move to the western frontier. The bureau’s work stemmed the establishment of the government involving themselves with social welfare and labor relations.
I will now explain the people that played a significant role in influencing and implementing the freedmen’s bureau. The freedmen’s bureau was initiated by former President Abraham Lincoln. It was also headed by Union Army General Oliver O. Howard. George Ruby was an African American teacher and administrator that was the bureau’s inspector. He helped to establish school for African Americans and he also inspected the field officer’s that worked within the bureau. Unfortunately under the leadership of President Ulysses S. Grant, the bureau was disbanded.
According to history the freedmen’s bureau was not very successful. Out of all of the promises that were made to the newly freed African Americans, very few were kept. Essentially they were left to fend for themselves. Promises such as employment and some education were kept. The promises for land and racial equality were not kept and this enraged the supporters of the bureau and the African Americans themselves. If the bureau would have had the proper financial backing and the proper number of staff it probably would have been very successful. Being that the bureau let the freedmen down by not providing the necessary funds, land, and education they lost faith in the United States government. The bureau has been labeled a failure by historians.
In essence the Freedmen’s Bureau was a relief organization set in place to help freedmen transition from slavery to the free world. Many promises such as land, employment, racial equality, and education were promised; but very few promises were kept. The bureau was underfunded and undermanned and the necessary resources hadn’t been set in place for it to thrive like it was supposed to.