In the years following the Civil War, the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned
Lands (the Freedmen's Bureau) provided assistance to tens of thousands of former slaves and
impoverished whites in the Southern States and the District of Columbia. The war had liberated
nearly four million slaves and destroyed the region's cities, towns, and plantation-based
economy. It left former slaves and many whites dislocated from their homes, facing starvation,
and owning only the clothes they wore. The need for assistance was very desperate as thousands
of black and white southerners endured extreme hardship in the months following the end of the
war. The challenge of establishing a ...view middle of the document...
The Bureau also assumed custody of confiscated lands or property in the former Confederate States, Border States, District of Columbia, and Indian Territory. .But Congress never provided enough money or man power to carry out these tasks. There was always a lack of personnel to carry out the tasks involved. One agent would often be assigned to 10,000 to 20,000 freedmen, and was unable to do their jobs efficiently as the manpower just was not there. There were very few black agents as there were not a lot of black military officers during that time.
. In July of that same year the bureau began distributing land, of which 40 acres were set aside for the freed slaves. This allocation did not last very long as the order was revoked as it was announced that the land had already been distributed under Special Field Order #15 and the land was to be returned to the white owners. This was because Andrew Johnson began to pardon thousands of the Confederates and then restored their land back to them, so General Howard had to tell the black people that they had to relinquish the land that they thought was theirs. The whites believed that property that belonged to them for generations should not be given to the freedmen. The blacks thought differently. They believed that in order to make freedom meaningful and to be independent, owning their own land would make all the difference
In 1866 Congress again tried to provide land for the freedmen, called the Southern Homestead Act, where they set aside more than three million acres of public land for black and white southerners who had remained loyal to the Union... The only drawback was that the land consisted of swampy and infertile land which did not make it suitable for farming. Four thousand black families claimed the land but...