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Problems with the Freedmen’s Bureau

 

 

 

After the Civil War the US Government thought about giving land that use to belong to slave owners to former slaves. After long discussions, Congress determined that no ex-Confederate land would be given to the freedmen.  However, the Freedmen’s Bureau bought or acquired abandoned and confiscated lands at a good price and encouraged former slaves to purchase the land.  As a result, tens of thousands of African Americans experienced land ownership for the first time.

When President Johnson took office after Lincoln was killed he offered amnesty, or forgiveness to all Southerners for starting the war and gave them their land back.  As a result, many freedmen were expelled, or kicked off the land they had paid for.  After this happened the Freedmen’s Bureau then encouraged the freedmen to try and get jobs with their former slaveholders.  Many became tenant farmers (they were employees on the farms of white people).  Others ended up renting from their former masters who took advantage of them, often refusing to pay them for the work they did.

The Freedmen’s Bureau was underfunded (didn’t get enough money to do the job they needed to do) and understaffed (didn’t have enough people to help).  People who worked as bureau agents were frequently the only federal representatives in Southern communities, were harassed and faced violence from Southern whites (including terror organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan) who thought the agents were interfering in local affairs by trying to help blacks.

 

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