History of the Bureau of Freedmen and Refugees
March 10, 1868
1. The officers and agents were detailed by the army. The first appropriation of money was made in
July 13, 1866 by Congress. The department was founded from the Treasury Department fund of
rents on abandoned lands and property (think of the sale of cotton from Port Royal). The fund was
transferred to the bureau by President Andrew Johnson on June 2, 1865. From March 1865 to
January 1, 1868 the bureau spent $3,847,854.39. An additional $392,526.98 from the old Treasury
Department fund. There was also another $40,000 especially appropriated for the District of
Columbia Freedmen. Note also the section of War Department supplies.
2. The biggest agencies were the American Missionary Association and the American Freedmen's
Union (National Freedmen's Association, Port Royal Relief Association, and the New England
Freedmen's Relief.). However many other organizations participated in the relief effort.
3. It's interesting to note how this Bureau was able to operate for one year with no Congressional
funding. It would operate its educational department the same way with a combination of
benevolence agencies, local support and government support to achieve the building of schools and
school buildings across the south.
4. The War Department was gearing down from the War of Rebellion and had vast surpluses of
supplies available. Much of these supplies were already being used by the War Department for relief
across the South.
5. Representative Thaddeus Stevens - (April 4, 1792 â€“ August 11, 1868) Graduating from
Dartmouth, he moved in 1815 to Pennsylvania. Studying law, he later set up his practice in
Gettysburg where he became known for defending runaway slaves gratis.
In politics he went from a Federalist to Anti-Mason, to Whig, and finally to Republican. He served in
the state legislature from 1833 until 1842, where he is most remembered for his defense of free
public schools. He was a master at the distribution of patronage.
Elected to Congress as a Whig in 1848, he was a constant opponent of extending slavery or
appeasing the South in any way. He became chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee,
Stevens,wrote much of the financial legislation that paid for the American Civil War. Stevens and
Senator Charles Sumner were the prime leaders of the Radical Republicans during the War of the
Rebellion and Reconstruction.
As chairman of the Committee on Reconstruction, he became an opponent of the Lincoln-Johnson
policy as too lenient. He was the prime instigator of the impeachment proceedings against Johnson.
He died a few months after the acquittal. In a final declaration for equality, he arranged to be buried
in a remote cemetery since it did not have racial barriers.
The inscription on his headstone reads: "I repose in this quiet and secluded spot, not from any
natural preference for solitude, but finding other cemeteries limited as to race, by charter rules, I
have chosen this that I might illustrate in my death the principles which I advocated through a long
life, equality of man before his Creator."
6. Senator Charles Sumner - (January 6, 1811 â€“ March 11, 1874) attended the Boston Latin
School; graduated from Harvard University in 1830 and from the Harvard Law School in 1833. After
graduating from Harvard University in 1833 he was admitted to the bar. Sumner developed radical
political opinions and after reading An Appeal in Favor of that Class of Americans Called Africans by
Lydia Maria Child he became active in the campaign against slavery. Sumner also advocated
education and prison reform. He lectured at the Harvard Law School 1836-1837; traveled
extensively in Europe 1837-1840
A lawyer and a powerful orator, Sumner was the leader of the antislavery forces in Massachusetts
and a leader of the Radical Republicans in the United States Senate during the War of Rebellion
and Reconstruction. He was elected to the United States Senate in 1851 as a Free Soiler; reelected
as a Republican in 1857, 1863, and 1869 and served from April 24, 1851 until his death. Sumner
put forward his theory of reconstruction, that the seceded states by their own act had "become felo
de se", had "committed state suicide", and that their status and the conditions of their readmission to
membership in the Union lay absolutely at the determination of Congress; as if they were Territories
and had never been states.Sumner opposed the policies of President Andrew Johnson and argued
in Congress that Southern plantations should be taken from their owners and divided among the
former slaves. He attacked Johnson when he attempted to veto the extension of the Freedman's
Bureau, the Civil Rights Bill and the Reconstruction Acts. However, the Radical Republicans were
able to get the Reconstruction Acts passed in 1867 and 1868. Sumner also urged economic aid,
land distribution and free education for freed slaves.
He lay in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, March 13, 1874; interment in Mount Auburn
Cemetery, Cambridge, Mass.
Index Terms: Treasury Department, President Andrew Johnson, District of Columbia, Freedmen,
War Department, American Missionary Association, American Freedmen's Union, National
Freedmen's Association, Port Royal Relief Association, New England's Freedmen's Relief, War of
Rebellion, Secretary of War, Agricultural Department, Secretary of Treasury, Department of Negro
Affairs, District of Columbia, General Howard, Boston Latin School, Harvard University, Harvard Law
School, An Appeal in Favor of that Class of Americans Called Africans, Lydia Maria child, Harvard
Law School, Massahusetts, Radical Republicans, Reconstruction, United States Senate, Free Soiler,
felo de se, President Andrew Johnson, Freedman's bureau, Civil rights Bill, Reconstruction Acts,
Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge Mass.
|Senator Charles Sumner