What kind of schools did the Freedmen’s Bureau develop?

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The Freedmen's Bureau established schools for Black Americans, especially freed slaves, after the Civil War. During the days of slavery, it was illegal to teach slaves how to read and write, yet when these enslaved people obtained their freedom, they revealed exactly how much they valued the chance to receive an education.

The Freedmen's Bureau was founded in March 1865 in order to assist former slaves during the days of Reconstruction in the South. Workers for the Freedmen's Bureau distributed food, provided medical care, and assisted in disputes. They also helped former slaves legalize their marriages and track down relatives who had been separated from them. The Bureau also tried to make sure that Black people received land of their own, but this part of its mission largely failed.

The Bureau was, however, known for its schools. Teachers, both Black and white, came from the North to help set up schools for freed slaves throughout the Southern states. These schools began operating as early as January 1865 (although in secret). When the war ended, Black Americans of all ages, both men and women, flocked to the Bureau schools, with 8,000 freed people already attending classes in Georgia by early 1866. Those numbers rose quickly, and the Bureau established thousands of schools and even helped found Howard University, Fisk University, and Hampton University for Black students who wanted to pursue higher education.

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