Freedmen's Bureau Facts

Freedmen's Bureau Facts
When the United States Congress passed the Freedmen's Bureau Bill on March 3, 1865 it established the agency of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, usually referred to as the Freedmen's Bureau. The mission of the Freedmen's Bureau was multi-faceted, involving different aspects of integrating the newly freed slaves of the southern states into society. From 1866 to 1872 the Freedmen's Bureau helped displaced former slaves find family members, offered educational opportunities to former slaves, and helped former slaves find work and learn financial and vocational skills. The Freedman's Bureau was headed by former Union general, Oliver Otis Howard (1830-1909), who was a strong supporter and advocate of the Reconstruction process in the south. In 1872, in the midst of anti-Reconstruction violence in the south and general apathy for Reconstruction in the north, Congress refused to renew funding for the agency, which effectively ended it, although its legacy and influence continued for decades.
Interesting Freedmen's Bureau Facts:
The Freedmen's Bureau was part of the Department of War.
Finding doctors and nurses who would treat freedmen was a constant problem for the Freedmen's Bureau.
Buildings and homes confiscated from plantation owners and unrepentant Confederates were sometimes used as freedmen schools.
The Freedman's Bureau distributed fifteen million rations of food to freedmen during its existence.
Many Historically Black Universities (HBUs), such as Hampton University in Virginia, were started through the Freedmen's Bureau.
There were four subdivisions of the Freedmen's Bureau: Government-controlled Lands, Records, Financial Affairs, and Medical Affairs.
The Freedmen's Bureau officiated marriages between freedmen and women and recognized so-called "slave marriages," which were not recognized in the antebellum south.
By the time the Freedmen's Bureau closed, it had opened 1,000 schools for freedmen across the south.
The Freedmen's Bureau overturned the Black Codes.
President Andrew Johnson, who was himself as southerner and opposed to Reconstruction, vetoed the Freedmen's Bureau funding in 1866 but was overridden by the majority Republican Congress.
It is estimated that the Freedmen's Bureau spent approximately $5 million building freedmen schools.
In an effort to give newly freed blacks more equal access to the courts, the Freedmen's Bureau established its own court system in most of the southern states.
Blacks comprised about one-third of the teachers at freedmen schools.
Freedmen Bureau organizers and workers were often subjected to violence from the Ku Klux Klan.
Destitute southern whites were also helped by the Freedmen's Bureau.
Churches and religious people donated time and money to the Freedmen's Bureau: branches of the African Methodist Episcopal and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion churches in northern cities sent preachers, teachers, and other volunteers to help the freedmen in the south. Predominantly white missionary societies, such as the American Missionary Association, also sent volunteers.
Under the Freedmen Bureau's leadership, the black population of Texas doubled as freedmen went there searching for opportunities outside the more hostile deep south.
The Freedmen's Bureau was supported by the military power of the federal government.
The HBU Howard University is named for Oliver Howard, who in addition to his general role as head of the Freedmen's Bureau was instrumental in Howard University being incorporated by Congress in 1867.


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