Paul E. Green
During the short-lived Reconstruction period after the Civil War, the task of rebuilding the economic and social infrastructure of the South was assigned to the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. Its official responsibility was to assist former slaves, provide relief to war refugees, and dispose of confiscated Confederate property. Education, however, became an important and perhaps the most successful part of its agenda, as it built thousands of schools including several important historically Black colleges. This entry reviews the historical context of the Freedmen's Bureau, its larger role, and its contributions to education. The destruction of crops, farmlands, and infrastructure throughout the South displaced thousands of workers of all races. The war had removed primary wage earners from many homes, increasing the ranks of the poor. Literally thousands of people both Black and White found themselves landless, jobless, and homeless. Whites and Blacks experienced nearly a complete breakdown ...