Freedmen's Bureau

Summary and Definition of the Freedmen's Bureau
Summary and Definition: The Freedmen's Bureau was a federal agency established on March 3, 1865 just before the end of the Civil War, during the Reconstruction Era.  The Freedmen's Bureau was established to help and protect emancipated slaves (freedmen) during their transition from a life of slavery to a life of freedom.

Freedmen's Bureau for kids
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th American President who served in office from March 4, 1861 to April 15, 1865. The Freedmen's Bureau was a government agency initially established under Lincoln's war powers.


Freedmen's Bureau

Why was the Freedmen's Bureau established?
The Freedmen's Bureau was originally created towards the end of the Civil War under President Lincoln's emergency war powers as part of the United States Department of War. The official name of the title was the 'Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands'. The Freedmen's Bureau was established due to pressure and concern of members of the Abolitionist Movement for newly emancipated slaves. The number of newly emancipated slaves (freedmen) totaled 4 million at the end of the Civil War. The Freedman's Bureau provided food, housing and medical aid to Freedmen. It also established schools and offered legal assistance to those in need.

The Freedmen's Bureau for kids: Picture
The picture illustrates an agent representing the Freedman's Bureau standing between armed groups of white Southerners and newly emancipated African Americans.

When was the Freedmen's Bureau established?
The Freedmen's Bureau was established under the Freedmen's Bureau Bill on March 3, 1865. It was intended to last for the duration of the Civil War and for one year afterwards, however it continued until July 1, 1869.

What was the Purpose of the Freedmen's Bureau?
The purpose of the Freedmen's Bureau was to:

● Perform relief work for both black and white poor people in war-stricken areas in the South
● The regulation of conditions of freedmen (black) labor
● The administration of justice in cases concerning the black freedmen
● The management of abandoned and confiscated property including the redistribution of 'abandoned' lands to former slaves
● The support of education for freedmen

In reality, the Freedmen's Bureau also organized the black vote in the South for the Republican party.

Who created the Freedmen's Bureau?
The Freedmen's Bureau was created by Congress, organized by the War Department and led by General Oliver O. Howard as its commissioner. The Freedmen's Bureau was therefore backed by military force and its original employees and agents were Civil War soldiers.

Where was the Freedmen's Bureau established?
General Oliver Howard, who was given the nickname the "Christian General", divided the Freedmen's Bureau into 11 districts in the ex-slave states, each headed by an assistant commissioner.

Who did the Freedmen's Bureau help?
The Freedmen's Bureau was created to aid and protect emancipated slaves (freedmen) in their transition from a life of slavery to freedom. It also offered help to poor whites in the South.

Who supported the Freedmen's Bureau?
The Freedmen's Bureau was supported by President Abraham Lincoln, moderate Republicans in Congress and members of the Abolitionist Movement. The Freedman's Bureau was massively under-staffed and only employed 900 agents at its peak and lacked sufficient funds to meet their goals. However there was additional support from teachers who established some effective educational programs and charitable religious institutions.

Achievements of the Freedmen's Bureau
Many of the successes and achievements of the Freedmen's Bureau were due to the help of missionaries and charities who provided help with relief work providing food, education support and medical aid. Others helped by negotiating labor contracts, legalizing marriages between ex-slaves and helping to locate and re-unite relatives and families. 

Who opposed the Freedmen's Bureau?
The Freedmen's Bureau was opposed by organizations in the South such as the Ku Klux Klan, who intimidated the agents. Resistance to the Bureau was also encouraged by President Andrew Johnson's administration who were influenced by the lenient policies of the President. The result of this was that most of the land confiscated from Confederates was eventually restored to the original owners. The Freedmen's Bureau failed totally in establishing the freed slaves as landowners.

Problems with the Freedmen's Bureau
Some of the agents working for the Freedmen's Bureau were honest and honorable but unfortunately many were corrupt, purely working for their personal financial gain.

How did the South view the Freedmen's Bureau?
The Freedmen's Bureau operated as a political mechanism, organizing the black vote for the Republican party. These political activities were strongly resented and made the Freedman's Bureau hated in the South. Agents were hated and despised, many were corrupt and incompetent, and seen as interfering in local affairs by trying to assist freedmen at the expense Southerners. The Reconstruction Era also brought the Carpetbaggers into the South. The Carpetbaggers were northerners who traveled south to insure that the policies of the federal government would be properly administered or simply to profit financially and politically from their positions.

Facts about the Freedmen's Bureau: Facts and Timeline for kids
Interesting Freedmen's Bureau Facts and Timeline for kids are detailed below. The history of the Freedmen's Bureau is told in a factual timeline sequence consisting of a series of interesting, short facts providing a simple method of relating the
history of the Freedmen's Bureau for kids, schools and homework projects.

Freedmen's Bureau Facts and Timeline for kids

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 1: January 1, 1865 - The 13th Amendment approved in January to abolish slavery

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 2: March 3,1865 - The temporary Freedmen's Bureau Bill was passed establishing the Freedmen's Bureau)  to assist freedmen (freed ex-slaves) in the South.

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 3:
April 9, 1865 - End of the Civil War begins with the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 4: April 14, 1865 - Assassination of President Lincoln by James Wilkes Booth

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 5: April 15, 1865 - Death of President Lincoln and Vice President Andrew Johnson assumes the Presidency and presents plans for the Reconstruction Era

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 6: 1865 / 1866 - The Black Codes were laws introduced in Southern States restricting black people's freedom and the right to own property, conduct business, buy and lease land, and move freely through public spaces

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 7: November, 1865 - A "Colored People's Convention" assembled at Zion Church in Charleston to condemn the Black Codes.

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 8: December 24, 1865 - Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was founded in Pulaski, Tennessee

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 9: February 4, 1866 - A follow-up Freedmenís Bureau Bill was vetoed by President Andrew Johnson

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 10: April 9, 1866 - Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 declared "all persons born in the United States," with the exception of American Indians, were "hereby declared to be citizens of the United States."

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 11: May, 1866 - The Memphis Riots mobs of white civilians and policemen rampage through black neighborhoods

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 12: June 13, 1866 - The Fourteenth Amendment was passed by Congress

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 13: July 3, 1866  - A compromise follow-up Freedmenís Bureau Bill was passed by Congress and the Senate provided additional rights to ex-slaves (Freedmen)

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 14: July 30, 1866 - The New Orleans riots in which whites attack freedmen at the Mechanics Institute

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 15: March 2, 1867 - The First of Four Reconstruction Acts were passed over Johnson's veto. Second Act March 23, 1867. Third Act July 19 1867. Fourth Act March 11, 1868. Purpose was  "An act to provide for the more efficient government of the Rebel States"

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 16: 1868 - Former slave, Oscar J. Dunn, was elected as  first US Black Lieutenant Governor, serving in Louisiana from 1868 to 1871

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 17: July 9, 1868 - The 14th Amendment was ratified stating that every person born in the US is a citizen. States must follow due process of law before taking away any citizen's rights or property.

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 18: August 11, 1868 - Radical republican Thaddeus Stevens dies. He was a fierce supporter of land for Freedmen

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 19: July 1, 1869 - Freedmen's Bureau ends (although education section continues for another 3 years)

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 20: February 3, 1870 - Fifteenth Amendment ratified stating that a citizen's right to vote cannot be taken away because of race, the color of their skin, or because they were previously slaves.

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 21: February 23, 1870 - Hiram Revels elected to U. S. Senate as the first black senator

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 22: December 12, 1870 - Joseph H. Rainey, is the first black member sworn in as member of the House of Representatives

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 23: 1868-1876 - 14 black men served in the House of Representatives and two black men served in the Senate

Freedmen's Bureau Timeline Fact 24: 1877 - Nearly 600,000 black students, from children to the elderly, were in southern schools by this year

Freedmen's Bureau Facts and Timeline for kids

Black History for kids: Important People and Events
For visitors interested in African American History refer to Black History - People and Events. A useful resource  for teachers, kids, schools and colleges undertaking projects for the Black History Month.

Freedmen's Bureau for kids - President Abraham Lincoln Video
The article on the Freedmen's Bureau provides an overview of this new federal agency during his presidency. The following Abraham Lincoln video will give you additional important facts and dates about the political events experienced by the 16th American President whose presidency spanned from March 4, 1861 to April 15, 1865.

Freedmen's Bureau

● Interesting Facts about the Freedmen's Bureau for kids and schools*** Definition and Summary of Freedmen's Bureau in US history
● Freedmen's Bureau, a Important political incident in US history
● Abraham Lincoln Presidency and the Freedmen's Agency
● Fast facts about the Freedmen's Bureau for kids
● Emancipation Policies of President Abraham Lincoln
● Abraham Lincoln Presidency and the Freedmen's Bureau for schools, homework, kids and children

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