Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: February 22, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412957403 | Print ISBN: 9781412956642 | Online ISBN: 9781412957403| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Impacting nearly every aspect of life in the post–Civil War South, the Freedmen's Bureau played a critical role during a major era of social reconstruction in American history. On March 3, 1865, Congress passed the Freedmen's Bureau Bill, authorizing the creation of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. From June 1865 to December 1868, the Freedmen's Bureau served as the primary authority responsible for overseeing the transition of slaves from bondage to freedom. Among the Bureau's main responsibilities were the provision of food, clothing, medical assistance, and social services to freedmen and White refugees. Yet it was the Bureau's goal of increasing access to education for the newly freed Black population—a goal that was a direct challenge to White interests—that would solidify its legacy in the history of educational reform and dissent. At the time of its inception, opinions regarding the Freedmen's Bureau were decidedly mixed. Its supporters ...