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Freedmen's Bureau

@ New Georgia Encyclopedia

Hatfield, Edward A


Encyclopedia article about the Freedmen's Bureau. In March 1865 the U.S. Congress created the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands to aid African Americans undergoing the transition from slavery to freedom in the aftermath of the Civil War (1861-65). The Freedmen's Bureau, as it was more commonly known, was the first organization of its kind, a federal agency established solely for the purpose of social welfare. Under the direction of Major General Oliver O. Howard, the agency furnished rations to refugees and freedpeople displaced by the war, established freedmen schools and hospitals, supervised the development of a contract labor system, and created military tribunals to adjudicate legal disputes. Though operations ceased in Georgia and other states as early as 1870, the bureau remained a functioning federal agency until 1872, when Congress allowed its authorization to expire.
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New Georgia Encyclopedia

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Digital Library of Georgia