Reconstruction, African-Americans and Southern reaction to defeat
After the Civil War, slavery was abolished but racism was still rife in the South. Laws were put in place and the Freedmen's Bureau was established in 1865 to help former slaves. However, many of these changes failed to end racism or improve the lives of former slaves.
Successes and difficulties of the Freedmen’s Bureau
Successes of the Freedmen’s Bureau
established 40 hospitals
distributed 21 million rations
established over 4000 schools from elementary through to college. Nearly a quarter of a million former slaves benefitted from different levels of education
helped former slaves legalise marriages, locate lost relatives and assisted black veterans
Issuing rations to the old and sick at the Freedmen's Bureau in Richmond, Virginia. 1866.
Difficulties faced by the Freedmen’s Bureau
white Southerners were strongly opposed to it. Racism was very prevalent and they believed that former slaves should not be educated
Andrew Johnson (who became president after Lincoln was assassinated) opposed the Bureau - he thought it interfered with individual states' government, and that it gave preferential treatment to a particular group of people
the Bureau was underfunded and understaffed. At its peak it had only 900 agents
Bureau agents were often intimated or attacked by terrorist organisations like the Ku Klux Klan who resented the fact that they were helping former slaves
locals resented the Northern Yankee teachers who came to teach the former slaves
much of the confiscated or abandoned land had been given back to the planters
the land that the Bureau was left with to distribute to former slaves was often inferior and undesirable
An 1868 engraving from Harper's Bazaar showing a Bureau officer holding back a group of angry whites.