What was the Freedmen’s Bureau and how effective was it? How successful was it in assisting ex-slaves to live in freedom?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Freedmen’s Bureau was created after the Civil War. It was designed to help the former slaves adjust to the freedom they received when the Civil War ended.

The Freedmen’s Bureau did several things for the former slaves. The Freedmen’s Bureau provided food, clothing, and medical care to the former slaves. Many slaves had little or no money so they were in need of help in obtaining these supplies and services. The Freedmen’s Bureau also helped the former slaves to establish schools. It was important for the former slaves, especially the kids of former slaves, to receive an education. The Freedmen’s Bureau also helped the former slaves get fair wages for the work they would do. In some cases, the Freedmen’s Bureau provided transportation for them to get to these jobs. Finally, the Freedmen’s Bureau helped the former slaves get land that was taken from or abandoned by the South.

As the Reconstruction process moved forward, the Freedmen’s Bureau was given additional power. The Freedmen’s Bureau was able to prosecute individuals who violated African-American civil rights.

While the Freedmen’s Bureau was able to help the former slaves for a period of time, eventually much of the progress made for African-Americans was reversed. The Freedmen’s Bureau stopped operating in the early 1870s. With the eventual passage of the Jim Crow laws and development of voting restrictions, the former slaves found themselves returning to slavery-like conditions. Therefore, the Freedmen’s Bureau was successful in helping the former slaves only in the short term. In the long term, many of the accomplishments were taken away or reduced.

mizzwillie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Freedmen's Bureau is exactly what its name implies.  This federal agency was set up by Abraham Lincoln to last for a year in helping the freed slaves transition to a free life.  The agency helped with food, housing, medical care, reuniting families or whatever was needed to make the transition from slavery. It also helped the freed slaves set up schools to teacher former slaves to read and write. The Freedmen's Bureau continued after the first year and was moderately successful in its endeavors to help freed slaves.  Unfortunately, the white plantation owners opposed the Bureau and its mission and eventually were successful in shutting down the Freedmen's Bureau.