The Civil War, Day by Day

Her Name Was Sojourner Truth

Congress Creates Freedmen’s Bureau

To help the former slaves become self-supporting citizens, Congress established the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands on March 3, 1865. The new organization soon became known as the Freedmen’s Bureau. The bureau was first proposed in March of 1863 by the American Freedmen’s Inquiry Commission. It was organization to regulate the freed slaves’ employment and wages, establish courts that would protect their rights, and promote their education. In addition, the bureau was to oversee the care of Southern refugees after the war. However, Congress did not initially approve the plan, leaving the fate of former slaves to diverse government committees and private philanthropists for the next two years.

"When the measure finally passed in 1865, it included the supervision of lands confiscated by the Union during the Civil War. The following year, Congress moved to broaden the bureau’s powers with more stringent civil rights laws but they were vetoed by President Andrew Johnson. Unlike his predecessor, Abraham Lincoln, Johnson remained sympathetic to pro-slavery Southerners and obstinate in matters of national reconstruction.

Fortunately, the Freedmen’s Bureau succeeded in finding work and shelter for many freed Southern blacks…but their struggle was far from over. In May of 1866, six Confederate veterans in Pulaski, Tennessee formed a white supremacist organization called the Ku Klux Klan.

April's Archived Features:

Wednesday April 1, 2020
Thursday April 2, 2020
Friday April 3, 2020
Saturday April 4, 2020
Sunday April 5, 2020



All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.