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The Bureau helped solve everyday problems of the newly freed slaves such as clothing, food, water, health care, communication with family members, and jobs.
The most widely recognized among the achievements of the Freedman's Bureau are its accomplishments in the field of education. The Bureau spent $5 million to set up schools for blacks, and by the end of 1865, more than 90,000 former slaves were enrolled as students in public schools.
Despite its good intentions, the Bureau faced strong opposition from Southern whites, who hindered many local Bureau agents from carrying out their duties.
The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, usually referred to as simply the Freedmen's Bureau, was a U.S. federal government agency that aided distressed freedmen (freed slaves) in 1865–1869, during the Reconstruction era of the United States.
The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, usually referred to as simply the Freedmen's Bureau, was a U.S. federal government agency from 1865-1869 aided distressed freedmen (freed slaves) during the Reconstruction era of the United States . The Bureau was created through the Freedmen's Bureau Bill, which was initiated by President Abraham Lincoln, and was intended to last for one year after the end of the Civil War. It was passed on March 3, 1865, by Congress to aid former slaves through legal food and housing, oversight, education, health care, and employment contracts with private landowners. The Bureau was part of the United States Department of War, and became a key agency during Reconstruction. Headed by Union Army General Oliver O. Howard, the Bureau was operational until 1871, when it was disbanded under President Ulysses S. Grant.
At the end of the war, the Bureau's main role was providing emergency food, housing, and medical aid to refugees; it also helped reunite families. Later, it focused its work on helping the freedmen adjust to their condition of freedom by setting up work opportunities and supervising labor contracts. It soon became, in effect, a military court that handled legal issues. The Bureau distributed 15 million rations of food to African Americans, and set up a system where planters could borrow rations in order to feed freedmen they employed.
The most widely recognized of the Freedman's Bureau's achievements is its accomplishments in the field of education. Prior to the Civil War, no southern state had a system of universal state-supported public education. Freedmen had a strong desire to learn to read and write. They had worked hard to establish schools in their communities prior to the advent of the Freedmen's Bureau. By 1866, missionary and aid societies worked in conjunction with the Freedmen's Bureau to provide education for former slaves. The American Missionary Association was particularly active; establishing eleven colleges in southern states for the education of freedmen. After 1866, Congress appropriated some funds to use in the freedmen's schools. Overall, the Bureau spent $5 million to set up schools for blacks. By the end of 1865, more than 90,000 former slaves were enrolled as students in public schools.
The Bureau faced many challenges despite its good intentions, efforts, and limited successes. By 1866, it was attacked by Southern whites for organizing blacks against their former masters. That same year President Andrew Johnson, supported by Radical Republicans, vetoed a bill for an increase of power for the Bureau. Many local Bureau agents were hindered in carrying out their duties by the opposition of former Confederates, and lacked a military presence to enforce their authority.