Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands
The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands was established by the War Department on March 3, 1865. Its primary function was to supervise all relief and educational activities relating to refugees and freedmen. It assumed custody of abandoned or confiscated lands or property in the former Confederate States, border states, District of Columbia, and Indian Territory.
The National Archives gives us the following information: “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 challenge of establishing a new social order, founded on freedom and racial equality, was enormous.
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