DBQ:The Freedmen’s Bureau
How did the Freedmen’s Bureau provide education for African Americans after the Civil War?
Did everyone support its efforts to help freed slaves?
The U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, popularly known as the Freedmen's Bureau, was established in 1865 by Congress to help former black slaves and poor whites in the South in the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War (1861-65).
Congress created the Freedmen’s Bureau to help freed slaves in the South. What impact did the Bureau have on education? How did white southerners react to the work of the Freedmen’s Bureau?
Use your knowledge of the Freedmen’s Bureau and Documents A, B, C, and D to answer questions 1 through 4.
“I am just returned from a tour through my district, and in reply to your note . . . have to say that at this place there are 366 colored children under 14 of which perhaps 200 might be gathered into a school. . . . The colored people here are anxious that a school may be established, and I heartily second their desire. Winchester also presents a favorable field for efforts in their behalf. There are 372 under 14, and a colored church that
will accommodate about half of the pupils. . . . At Harpers Ferry I found a school of 40 pupils established by Miss Mann . . . and taught by her for four months under every discouragement illustrating heroic charity. She is about to accept a situation elsewhere, and was exceedingly anxious that the school should be continued. . . . I promised that the school should continue.”
—W. Storer How, August 31, 1865
Freedmen’s Bureau school of Edisto Island, South Carolina
Cartoon depicting President Johnson’s veto of the Freedmen’s
“We have pronounced ourselves distinctly in favor of the education of the Freedmen. . . . It is the interest of the whites and blacks alike that education should be generally diffused, and it will prepare both classes for the better performance of their duties. Therefore, let the people of the South, even the true, and, in fact, we think, only real friends of the negro move in the matter wisely and upon system. If the negro is to possess civil
rights, and those are already accorded him, a certain amount of education will be indispensable. . . . The following . . . remarks show very clearly what difficulties are in the way of the system which has been established by those who are ignorant of the nature and character of the blacks. The Southern people must take the matter in their own hands.”
—J.D.B. DeBrow, Debow’s Review, July 1866
1. Which documents present a constructive view of the Freedmen’s Bureau’s efforts?
2. In Document D, what is the author’s view of educating freed slaves?
3. Which document presents the conflict between President Johnson and Congress over the Freedmen’s Bureau?
4. Writing Task How did the Freedmen’s Bureau provide education for African Americans after the Civil War? Did everyone support its efforts to help freed slaves? Use your knowledge of the chapter content and specific evidence from the primary sources above to support your opinion.