Congressional Report History of the Bureau of Freedmen and Refugees March 10, 1868 Page 2 Congressional Records
Notes: 1. On page 2 the document reports the passage of the bill with the difficulty being in the U. S. Senate. Senator Charles Sumner wanted the Bureau to be under the Treasury Department which had the power to tax and controled the abandoned lands. The bill was signed by Abraham Lincoln. The bureau's termination date was to be one year after the end of the rebellion. On July 16, 1866 the bill was extended for two more years.
2. The report talks about the work of E. L. Pierce bringing private agencies before the government. It concludes by saying: "That aid should have been rendered at a much earlier day than it was given." Edward Lillie Pierce (29 March 1829; 6 September 1897) was an agent of the Treasury Department under Salmon Chase who first served to Fortress Monroe (as a private in the 3rd Mass assigned to head the army's contraband labor force) and was sent to the Sea Islands (Port Royal) to report on the conditions there including the cotton crop and the newly liberated slaves. W. E. B Du Bois in his book, The Freedmen's Bureau, would call Pierce "the founder of the Bureau." Pierce would spearhead a movement among benevolence societies (along with General T. W. Sherman and Admiral DuPont) to encourage sending supplies and people to help the newly freed slaves.
3. After the passage of the bill on March 3, 1865 President Lincoln needed to appoint a commissioner. General O. O. Howard was selected by Lincoln but he was currently in command of the army of Tennessee or Sherman's right wing in North Carolina. On May 12, 1865 President Andrew Johnson appointed O.O. Howard as Commissioner of the Bureau with General Order No. 91. Congress had adjourned on March 4 failing to appropriate money to run the agency
4. Salmon Portland Chase - .(born in New Hampshire on 13th January, 1808 - died 7th May, 1873) In 1849 he was elected to the U. S. Senate from Ohio. In 1855 Chase was elected as the governor of Ohio. A founder member of the Republican Party he sought the party presidential nomination in 1860 but on the third ballot asked his supporters to vote for Abraham Lincoln. When Lincoln became president he appointed Chase as his Secretary of the Treasury and had responsibility for organizing the finance of the Union war effort. He also helped to establish a national banking system and another innovation was the employment of women clerks. As Treasury Secretary, he presided over the financing of the war effort and passage of the Legal Tender Act of 1862 which authorized greenbacks. He also presided over the growth of a political empire through the expansion of the number of Treasury agents around the country. In the Department of the Treasury, under authority of an act of July 13, 1861 (12 Stat. 257), as amended, permitting licensed trading with insurrectionary states. The Treasury Department under Chase supervised trade and commerce in areas of the Confederacy occupied by U.S. forces. Under acts of July 17, 1862 (12 Stat. 589), March 2, 1863 (12 Stat. 820), and July 2, 1864 (13 Stat. 375), received and collected abandoned, captured, and confiscable property. Under Treasury Department regulations of July 29, 1864, established "freedmen's home colonies" to provide employment and welfare assistance to freed slaves. Restrictions on commerce east of the Mississippi River lifted by Presidential directive, June 13, 1865. Treasury enforcement of regulations concerning captured and abandoned property curtailed, June 27, 1865.In December, 1864. Abraham Lincoln appointed Chase as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
5. Oliver Otis Howard - (November 8, 1830 â€“ October 26, 1909) He graduated 4th in his class in 1855 and became a 2nd Lieut. in the ordnance department. Howard's first tour of duty was fighting Seminoles in Fort Brooke, Florida. While in Florida, he underwent an intense religious awakening, triggered by a combination of exposure to a conversion account in Hedley Vicar's Diary Notes, and a robust Methodist tent meeting. Returning to West Point, Howard threw himself into evangelical work. He became a teacher of mathmatics.
Howard was appointed colonel of the 3rd Maine Infantry regiment and temporarily commanded a brigade at the First Battle of Bull Run. He was promoted to brigadier general effective September 3, 1861, and given permanent command of his brigade. He then joined Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac for the Peninsula Campaign. On June 1, 1862, while commanding a Union brigade in the Fair Oaks, Howard was wounded twice in his right arm, which was subsequently amputated.He received the Medal of Honor in 1893 for his heroism at Fair Oaks. At the Battle of Antietam, in which he rose to division command in the II Corps. He was promoted to major general in November 1862 and assumed command of the XI Corps the following April. As a General in the War of the Rebellion he suffered two humiliating defeats, at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Howard and his Corps were moved to the Army of the Cumberland in Tennessee. In the Battles for Chattanooga, the corps joined the assault that captured Missionary Ridge and forced the retreat of Gen. Braxton Bragg. In July 1864, following the death of Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson, Howard became commander of the Army of the Tennessee, fought in the Atlanta Campaign, and led the right wing of Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's famous March to the Sea, through Georgia and then the Carolinas. Congress, at the close of the march of Sherman's army to the sea, in December 1864, promoted General Howard to the rank of brigadier-general in the regular army, his commission dating from the 21st of December, 1864, and the Thirty- ninth Congress, at their first session, conferred on him the brevet rank of major-general in the regular army, dating from March 13, 1865.
As the commissioner of the Freedmen's bureau he faced the task of assisting four million ex-slaves in finding jobs, homes, and health care. The Bureau was a department of the Army, and the employees were officers. No sooner had President Johnson installed Howard in this post, than he began trying to dismantle the Bureau and undermine its mission. By the time the Bureau was completely dismantled in 1872, Howard was president of Howard University. The university was one of several schools Howard had used Bureau monies to establish. Howard University was founded specifically to train black lawyers, doctors, dentists, and teachers.
In 1872 Howard was sent to negotiate with Cochise in an effort to end the guerrilla war with the Chiricahua Apaches. Howard succeeded, establishing a reserve in Southeast Arizona, but many thought he gave Cochise too much land and too many concessions. The situation was different in 1877 when he was sent to persuade Joseph and his band of Nez Perce to leave the Wallowa Valley in Oregon to go to the reservation created for them in Lapwai, Idaho. Although Howard agreed with Joseph that his people had never given up their land by treaty, he informed Joseph that the Nez Perce could not live in Oregon any more, there were too many settlers and conflict was going to arise. When Nez Perce warriors killed several white settlers, Howard brought the full force of the U.S. Army to bear against the hold-outs, pursuing Josephâ€™s band through Idaho into Montana to nearly the Canadian border. After Josephâ€™s famous surrender, true to his morals, Howard continued to support the Nez Perce claim on their land, though it did little good.
He spent the final years of his career as superintendant at West Point, and retired in 1894, after serving over 40 years in the U.S. Army
Index: U. S. Senate, Senator Charles Sumner, Treasury Department, Abraham Lincoln, E. L. Pierce, Salmon Chase, Fortress Monroe, Sea Islands, Port Royal, General T. W. Sherman, Admiral Dupont, Army of Tennessee, North Carolina, President Andrew Johnson, O. O. Howard, Commissioner of the Bureau, General Order No. 91, Department of Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, Bureau for the Relief of Freedmen and Refugees, Contraband, Freedmen, Massachusetts, Secretary of the Treasury, Washington, General O. O. Howard, W.E. B. Du Bois, The Freedmen's Bureau, Edward Lillie Pierce, 3rd Mass., New Hampshire, Ohio, Republican Party, Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon Portland Chase, 12 Stat. 257, 12 Stat. 589, 12 Stat. 820, 13 Stat. 375.