The Demystification of the Freedmen's Bureau

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The role of the Freedmen Bureau in African-American development during the Reconstruction era has been a polarizing topic since the Bureau’s inception. While most concur that the Bureau was well intended, some scholars, believe that the Freedmen’s Bureau was detrimental to African-American development. One such scholar was W.E.B. Dubois, who in his book The Souls of Black Folk, expressed his discontent with the actions of the Bureau and suggested that the Bureau did more harm than good. Upon further probing, research refutes the position that the Freedmen’s Bureau was chiefly detrimental to Black development. While far from flawless in its pursuits to assist the newly freed Negroes, the actions of the Freedmen’s Bureau did not impede African-American progress; instead, these actions facilitated African-American development. The Bureau for Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, more commonly known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, was created with the passage of the Freedmen’s Bureau Act on March 3, 1865 (United States). The bill, which was supported by Abraham Lincoln as well as Radical Republicans in Congress, faced a great deal of opposition from Southern states and passed with only a two vote majority (Dubois). The bill is intentionally vague in order to allow leniency in its implementation. The flexibility provided by refraining from outlining specific programs was intended to benefit the freedmen by allowing the program to mold and fit his needs (Colby). Though flexibility in the Freedmen’s Bureau allowed the Bureau to attempt to solve many different problems, Dubois found fault with all sections of the Freedmen’s save the education sector. Dubois labeled the Bureau, “ one of the most singular and interesting of the attempts ... ... middle of paper ... ...progress made by the Freedmen’s Bureau, albeit modest, was nonetheless beneficial and certainly not detrimental to race development. Works Cited Abbott, Martin. "Free Land, Free Labor and the Freedmen's Bureau." Agricultural History 30.4 (1956): 150-56. JSTOR. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. Colby, Ira C. "The Freedmen's Bureau: From Social Welfare to Segregation." Phylon 46.3 (1985): 219-30. JSTOR. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. Dubois, W.E.B. "Of the Dawn of Freedom." The Souls of Black Folk. 13-40. Print. Groff, Patrick. "The Freedmen's Bureau in High School History Texts." The Journal of Negro Education 51.4 (1982): 425-33. JSTOR. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. Lieberman, Robert C. "THe Freedmen's Bureau and the Politics of Institutional Structure." Social Science History 18.3 (1994): 405-37. Print. United States. Cong. Freedmen's Bureau Act. 38th Cong., 2nd sess. Cong. Bill. Print.

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