In the early 21st century, new research has found that half the teachers were southern whites; one-third were blacks mostly southern , and one-sixth were northern whites. The salary was the strongest motivation except for the northerners, who were typically funded by northern organizations and had a humanitarian motivation.
As a group, the black cohort showed the greatest commitment to racial equality; and they were the ones most likely to remain teachers. The school curriculum resembled that of schools in the north.
Some white officials working with African Americans in the South were concerned about what they considered the lack of a moral or financial foundation seen in the African-American community, and traced that lack of foundation back to slavery. Generally, they believed that blacks needed help to enter a free labor market and reconstruct stable family life. Heads of local American Missionary Associations sponsored various educational and religious efforts for African Americans.
Washington of the Tuskegee Institute from They said that black students should be able to leave home and "live in an atmosphere conducive not only to scholarship but to culture and refinement". For instance, at the majority of these schools, students were expected to bathe a prescribed number of times per week, maintain an orderly living space, and present a particular appearance.
At many of these institutions, Christian principles and practices were also part of the daily regime. Educational legacy[ edit ] Despite the untimely dissolution of the Freedman's Bureau, its legacy influenced the important historically black colleges and universities HBCUs , which were the chief institutions of higher learning for blacks in the South through the decades of segregation into the midth century.
Under the direction and sponsorship of the Bureau, together with the American Missionary Association in many cases, from approximately until its termination in , an estimated 25 institutions of higher learning for black youth were established.
As of [update] , there exist approximately HBCUs that range in scope, size, organization and orientation. One in three degrees held by African Americans in the natural sciences, and half the degrees held by African Americans in mathematics, were earned at HBCUs. The Methodist denomination had split into regional associations in the s prior to the war, as had the Baptists, when Southern Baptists were founded. In some cities, Northern Methodists seized control of Southern Methodist buildings.
Numerous northern denominations, including the independent black denominations of the African Methodist Episcopal AME and African Methodist Episcopal Zion , sent missionaries to the South to help the freedmen and plant new congregations.
By this time the independent black denominations were increasingly well organized and prepared to evangelize to the freedmen. Within a decade, the AME and AME Zion churches had gained hundreds of thousands of new members and were rapidly organizing new congregations. In many places, especially in more rural areas, they shared public services with whites. Often enslaved blacks met secretly to conduct their own services away from white supervision or oversight.
Within a short time, they were organizing black Baptist state associations, and organized a national association in the s. Northern mission societies raised funds for land, buildings, teachers' salaries, and basic necessities such as books and furniture. For years they used networks throughout their churches to raise money for freedmen's education and worship. Most of the assistant commissioners, realizing that African Americans would not receive fair trials in the civil courts, tried to handle black cases in their own Bureau courts.
Southern whites objected that this was unconstitutional. In Alabama , the Bureau commissioned state and county judges as Bureau agents. They were to try cases involving blacks with no distinctions on racial grounds. If a judge refused, the Freedmen's Bureau could institute martial law in his district. All but three judges accepted their unwanted commissions, and the governor urged compliance. It had not suffered wartime devastation or Union occupation, but white hostility was high against the black majority population.
Well-meaning Bureau agents were understaffed and weakly supported by federal troops, and found their investigations blocked and authority undermined at every turn by recalcitrant plantation owners. Murders of freedmen were common, and white suspects in these cases were not prosecuted. Bureau agents did negotiate labor contracts, build schools and hospitals, and aid freedmen, but they struggled against the violence of the oppressive environment. Henry Jones, accused of being the leader of the purported insurrection, was shot and left to burn by whites, but he survived, badly hurt.
Other freedmen were killed or driven from their land by Arkansas Desperadoes. In early October, blacks arrested two whites from Arkansas "accused of being part of a mob Blacks were reported to have killed the two white men in the altercation. Grant and the Secretary of the Interior, Columbus Delano , General Howard was asked to temporarily leave his duties as Commissioner of the Bureau to deal with Indian affairs in the west. Upon returning from his assignment in November , General Howard discovered that the Bureau and all of its activities had been officially terminated by Congress, effective as of June Howard, While General Howard was dealing with Indian affairs in the west, the Freedmen's Bureau was steadily losing its support in Congress.
President Johnson had opposed the Freedmen's Bureau and his attitude encouraged many people, especially white Southerners, to challenge the Bureau. But insurgents showed that the war had not ended, as armed whites attacked black Republicans and their sympathizers, including teachers and officeholders.
Congress dismantled the Bureau in due to pressure from white Southerners. The Bureau was unable to change much of the social dynamic as whites continued to seek supremacy over blacks, frequently with violence. He said, "the legislative action, however, was just what I desired, except that I would have preferred to close out my own Bureau and not have another do it for me in an unfriendly manner in my absence.
Alabama[ edit ] The Bureau began distributing rations in the summer of Drought conditions resulted in so much need that the state established its own Office of the Commissioner of the Destitute to provide additional relief. The two agencies coordinated their efforts starting in The Bureau established depots in eight major cities. Counties were allocated aid in kind each month based on the number of poor reported.
The counties were required to provide transportation from the depots for the supplies. The ration was larger in winter and spring, and reduced in seasons when locally grown food was available. In , the depot at Huntsville provided five thousand rations a day. The food was distributed without regard to race. Corruption and abuse was so great that in October , President Johnson ended in-kind aid in that state.
One hundred twenty thousand dollars was given to the state to provide relief to the end of January Aid was ended in the state. Records show that by the end of the program, four times as many White people received aid than did Black people. Thomas Ward Osborne , the assistant commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau for Florida, was an astute politician who collaborated with the leadership of both parties in the state. He was warmly praised by observers on all sides.
Whittlesey was questioned but said he was not involved in nor knew of anyone involved in such activities. The bureau exercised what whites believed were arbitrary powers: They were considered to be disregarding the local laws and especially the statute of limitations. Their activities resulted in resentment among whites toward the federal government in general. These powers invoked negative feelings in many southerners that sparked many to want the agency to leave.
In their review, Steedman and Fullerton repeated their conclusion from Virginia, which was to withdraw the Bureau and turn daily operations over to the military. General Saxton was head of the bureau operations in South Carolina; he was reported by Steedman and Fullerton to have made so many "mistakes and blunders" that he made matters worse for the freedmen.
He was replaced by Brigadier General R. Steedman and Fullerton described Scott as energetic and a competent officer. It appeared that he took great pains to turn things around and correct the mistakes made by his predecessors. The investigators learned of reported murders of freedmen by a band of outlaws.
These outlaws were thought to be people from other states, such as Texas, Kentucky and Tennessee, who had been part of the rebel army Ku Klux Klan chapters were similarly started by veterans in the first years after the war. When citizens were asked why the perpetrators had not been arrested, many answered that the Bureau, with the support of the military, had the primary authority. Many had tried to cultivate the land and began businesses with little to no success in the social disruption of the period.
Slavery had been prevalent only in East Texas , and some freedmen hoped for the chance of new types of opportunity in the lightly populated but booming state. The Bureau's political role was central, as was close attention to the need for schools. Other personnel included orderlies and guards. Many stayed in that area after the war, seeking protection near the federal forts. The Bureau fed 9, to 10, blacks a month over the winter, explaining: The necessity for issuing rations to this class of persons results from their accumulation in large numbers in certain places where the land is unproductive and the demand for labor is limited.
As long as these people remain in the present localities, the civil authorities refuse to provide for the able-bodied, and are unable to care for the helpless and destitute among them, owing to their great number and the fact that very few are residents of the counties in which they have congregated during the war.
The necessity for the relief extended to these people, both able-bodied and helpless, by the Government, will continue as long as they remain in their present condition, and while rations are issued to the able-bodied they will not voluntarily change their localities to seek places where they can procure labor. Congress passed the Freedmen's Bureau Preservation Act, which directed the National Archivist to preserve the extensive records of the Bureau on microfilm, and work with educational institutions to index the records.
They are being digitized and made available through online databases. These constitute a major source of documentation on the operations of the Bureau, political and social conditions in the Reconstruction Era, and the genealogies of freedpeople. Tens of thousands of volunteers are needed to make these records searchable online. No specific time commitment is required, and anyone may participate. Volunteers simply log on http: Once published, information for millions of African Americans will be accessible, allowing families to build their family trees and connect with their ancestors.
In October , Virginia governor Tim Kaine announced that Virginia would be the first state to index and digitize Freedmen's Bureau records.