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Freedmens Bureau Case Study Essay

Identification and Evaluation of Sources This investigation focuses on the Freedmen’s Bureau established in 1865 and lasting till 1872, and will discuss “What role did the Freedmen’s Bureau play in the South during the Reconstruction era of the United States? ” | will examine the programs established to aid freedmen in the South during the Reconstruction era. History texts and websites will be used to help develop the investigation that will analyze the effectiveness of the United States Department of War’s effort in attempts to change society in the former Confederate States.

Source A is a secondary source, a case study written by Major William H. Burks, chosen for the detailed analysis due to its ability to convey how the organization was undermined by a hostile political situation at both the national and state level and how a diminishing lack of popular support embraced radical social changes. Source B is another secondary source, a history of the Freedmen’s Bureau written by W. E. B. DuBois, chosen due to the detailed analysis of the programs created by the bureau. Source A A synopsis from the publisher reads: “The United States’ Civil War ended in 1865.

However, the post-conflict period immediately following, known as Reconstruction, lasted another twelve years. This era provides a great case study to examine the impacts of politics on military stability operations. This paper studies the Freedmen’s Bureau during its existence from 1865 to 1872. Envisioned as the lead organization for integrating former slaves into American society, the Bureau’s efforts in the postCivil War South were undermined by a hostile political situation at the national and state level and a diminishing lack of popular upport throughout the entire nation to embrace radical social changes.

The Bureau’s operational timeframe splits into three distinct periods: conflict with President Andrew Johnson from 1865 to early 1867, revamped efforts during Congressional Reconstruction from early 1867 to the end of 1868, and a reduced operational focus (primarily education) from 1869 to 1872. The Bureau faced manning challenges and fought racism as it worked to help former slaves become self-sufficient, educated, and true citizens of the nation in which they resided.

Unfortunately, hostile political conditions meant much of the civil rights work accomplished by the Bureau was subdued after its demise until the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. ” Source An expert from W. E. B. DuBois reads: “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line,–the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea.

It was a phase of this problem that caused the Civil War; and however much they who marched south and North in 1861 may have fixed on the technical points of union and local autonomy as a shibboleth, all nevertheless knew, as we know, that the question of Negro slavery was the real cause of the conflict. Curious it was, too, how this deeper question ever forced itself to the surface despite effort and disclaimer. No sooner had Northern armies touched Southern soil than this old question, newly guised, sprang from the earth,–What shall be done with Negroes?

Peremptory military commands, this way and that, could not answer the query; the Emancipation Proclamation seemed but to broaden and intensify the difficulties; and the War Amendments made the Negro problems of to-day. It is the aim of this essay to study the period of history from 1861 to 1872 so far as it relates to the American Negro. In effect, this tale of the dawn of Freedom is an account of that government of men called the Freedmen’s Bureau,–one of the most singular and interesting of the attempts made by a great nation to grapple ith vast problems of race and social condition. ”

Investigation The Freedmen’s Bureau was proposed by Avraham Lincoln and established on March 3, 1865 under the United States War Department. The bureau’s main purpose was to consider the needs and provide relief to the millions of former slaves in the Southern, Confederate, parts of the United States. As many of the slaves made their transition from bondage to freedom, the bureau proved to be very helpful in making the transition much easier than if the slaves were left to transition alone.

Many Northerners recognized the bureau and created many small organizations during the war. The Northerners influenced the United States Congress to aid the relief of freed slaves and take on the role of providing for their welfare in the early 1860s. The bureau was basically set in place to help previous slaves and now free people to acquire land, enfranchise them, and aid them towards the creating of their own establishments.

The Freedmen’s Bureau had many tasks, one being the most intimidating due to it being held in the areas greatly devastated by war and then experiencing conflicting postwar southern societal views. Southern whites were very afraid of the order of the emaciation act in the South because the majority of them were not in support for full social and political equality for the freed slaves. To eliminate the conflicting visions and hatred that was white supremacy, the Freedmen’s bureau set up official offices in all of the southern states.

However, this was very difficult to maintain due to the lack of volunteer support and financial aid. The bureau workers had to do a lot of influencing to get local southern governments and southern to recognize the political and social equality. There was even trouble in judicial hearings which ultimately led the bureau to having to look over state and local affairs themselves, while also in the midst of the uncooperative southern civilians. The Bureau also took on the important role of the acquisition of land for the free people.

Historians, Meier and Rudwick, claimed that the freed people weren’t so concerned with their political and civil rights as they were concerned with acquiring and cultivation their own land. The freed slaves believed that having land meant having power and that in order to truly be American, one must have their own land and property. The freed people were already used to cultivating soil and farming crops prior to being emancipated, so true freedom in the eyes of a freedmen meant farming their own land instead of farming someone else’s land.

In the grand scheme of things economically, the freed slaved were placed in a uncomfortable position as most of them found themselves unemployed and back on the plantations in which they were enslaved, working on long contractions for very little pay; almost as if they were never freed. Because of this unfortunate economic position, the Freedmen’s Bureau established a judicial system that would work equally towards providing justice to both parties by creating their own authoritarian agency.

Most of the time, this usually included legal contracts being created between freed slaves and their employers, promising to allow the freed slave to receive fair wages under suitable conditions. Some contracts would even go as far as demanding employers to provide free transportation to and from work. Due to the atmosphere created by the Freedmen’s Bureau in the South, there was great hostility toward the local offices placed in southern states and the Northerners who travelled far to aid such offices and agencies.

Many Northerners would argue that because of the hostility exalted by the Southerners, justifying the Bureau’s existence was very difficult. The interference of the federal government did not make times any easier, even when moments were described as being the most ‘peaceful? Many historians would claim that the Freedmen’s Bureau was just a program created to enfranchise freed slave and generate an even stranger Republican party in the former-Confederate states of the South.

The Freedmen’s Bureau also helped supply freed peoples with needed supplies and services to maintain proper health, and even established many schools, clinics, and hospitals. During the years 1865 and 1869, it was analyzed that the bureau provided freed people with tens of millions of rations that usually consisted of bushels of corn and a few pounds of pork and even some small amounts of vegetables, coffee beans, sugar, and salts. But one of the greatest challenges was the lack of health care services to sustain the many freed slaves in the South.

The Bureau tried to establish as many clinics as they possibly could to strengthen the existing medical support. Despite the many struggles and the Bureau’s short existence, the biggest success for the Freemen’s Bureau was promoting the education of freed slaves. The bureau established thousands of schools of all levels that were free of charge and were often fully supplied by wealthy Northerners. Many white southerners opposed these efforts to educated blacks because they simply believed that the blacks were unable to truly gain a real education through learning.

Many black churches nationwide also contributed to the cause. Historians saw that once the bureau was no longer in action, there was evidence that showed an increase in school attendance by blacks and an advancement of scholarship amongst them. The bureau truly did a great job towards its final years in defining the true meaning of freedom. The bureau provided freed slaves with materialistic necessities but also united blacks together and created a sense of community. The bureau also had a lot of success in supervised labor agreements and settling disputes on a judicial level between the two conflicting races.

However, the Freedmen’s Bureau ultimately failed in the social category. The bureau could not change the social structure that was implanted in the South. There was a clear imbalance of wealth and power that remained during and after the bureaus time in action. But despite the unwillingness to change traditional supremacist values, the Freedmen’s Bureau will have a long lasting legacy that will live on through the many educational institutions and franchises created towards the aid and advancement of colored people in the United States. Reflection:

Carrying out this investigation was made me more aware of the challenges historians have faced and continue to face in generating analysis and conclusions when carrying out their own investigations. Due to availability or lack of resources that are reliable enough to convey past historical events, there are limitless possibilities to what can be interpreted. I used many different sources, mainly websites to gather the facts and opinions I needed to caryy out my investigation. By carefully examining different interpretations and conclusions, I was able to create my own.

I was also able to see many different viewpoints regarding how successful and unsuccessful the Freedmen’s Bureau was during the Reconstruction era. I understand more about the process and issues faced by historians who must seek neat and far for data and facts that connect to what they are trying to research. I believe this investigation allowed me to experience something similar to what historians must go through to even attempt to conclude their findings and provide interpretations that are significant and relevant. A limitation of the methods I used is creating interpretations and conclusions that aren’t subjected to bias.

Most of the resources I used were written from either proFreedmen’s Bureau view or from someone who wasn’t necessarily a supporter of the Confederacy. Because most of these events that I used in my investigation were processed by many individual historians, it is very difficult to not display their personal values and views into my research if I am subjected to agree with them. Relying on someone else’s’ analysis of historical events definitely put a lot of pressure of historians in finding truth within a subject. Though my investigation, I have truly become more aware of the difficulty in being a historian

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