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Reconstruction Reset

Page history last edited by Mr. Hengsterman 3 years, 10 months ago







The Civil War by the Numbers


Value of Southern Plantation 1859: $30,000  ;   Value of Southern Plantation 1865: $700.00


Market Value of Freed Slaves:  $2 to 4 Billion (Gone with the Wind)


Public Works projects: Massachusetts $21 million - Mississippi $185,000




The Freedmen’s Bureau

March 4, 1865



Background: On March 4, 1865, the U.S. government created a temporary federal agency- the Freedmen’s Bureau to assist 4 million freed slaves in making the transition from slavery to freedom. The agency distributed trainloads of food and clothing provided by the federal government to freed slaves and Southern white refugees. They built hospitals for the freed slaves and gave direct medical aid to more than 1 million of them. The greatest successes of the Freedmen's Bureau were in the field of education. More than 1,000 negro schools were built and staffed with qualified instructors. Most of the major negro colleges in the United States were founded with the assistance of the bureau. 


The Freedmen’s Bureau – One way Reconstruction  could have gone – a government agency designed to help poor whites and freed slaves transition Mandate is huge

1. Help establish a free labor system in the south

2. Establish schools for the Freedman

3. Provide aid to the destitute food, goods, shelter


4. Adjudicate disputes (labor of law infractions)

5. dispense and provide justice


To do this there were 9,000 agents charted to (overworked and underpaid and facing impossible tasks)


Introducing Marshall Twitchell






Symbolic- Government is taking responsibility existed to help slaves and free whites  1865 – did not belong to the America of its day, a forerunner


Closing the Economic Window?

1. Freedmens’ Bureau Activities and ambitions  - Forty acres and mule?


Sea Islands in South Carolina and George  gave away requisitioned lands


President Johnson revokes orders to  REVOKED by Andrew Johnson. Real reform would only come if blacks had access to their own land.



The Freedmen’s Bureau   begins to scale backs its ambitions and concentrate on limits tasks.  Labor contracts…FB lead to more individualized contracts which led to sharecropping. Share cropping in EXPLOTATIVE







The Radicals Republicans established the Joint Committee on Reconstruction. This was a bipartisan committee of members of both houses of Congress, 12 of whom were Republicans and 3 Democrats. 


the purpose of which was to investigate what was going on on the ground in the South, to investigate the necessities and needs of Reconstruction, to investigate the further needs of the Freedmen's Bureau, and to recommend to Congress what legislation ought be passed to reconstruct the country.


They held massive hearings, the largest such Congressional Hearings in American history to that time. They saw 144 witnesses over about two months, including Robert E. Lee himself, who came up from Richmond to testify; testifying essentially under orders, and he still was under House Arrest, he didn't really have a choice. They asked hundreds of questions, but you could boil them down to these. They asked about the treatment of freedmen in the South. And their witnesses were all kinds of people, Union officers, Freedmen's Bureau agents, some white Southerners, for sure, some famous, most not. They asked lots of questions about the levels of loyalty and disloyalty. What were the political attitudes of Southerners? They were really trying to find out "what would white Southerners actually do if we did that?"


The conclusions of this report, the Joint Committee's Report, which was by the way chaired by William Pitt Fessenden of Maine, a moderate Republican senator, but a key figure. He had a lot of prestige. He'd been in the U.S. Senate forever. He was an old-time Republican but a moderate, who had come to see the verdict of the Civil War, the destruction of slavery and the challenge to make it good. Their conclusions were essentially this, and they actually used this word, that it would be, quote, "madness" to let ex-Confederates run the new Southern state governments; madness was the word used by the Committee's report. Secondly, the Johnson style of leniency toward Reconstruction — and they had various ways of putting this and various conclusions they drew from this — was foolish. And the third and last, but not least, they made a whole series of recommendations for what they called safeguards that would be necessary to guarantee security in the South and the beginnings, at least, of a new political regime in every state.




The first thing they passed was the Civil Rights Act of 1866; passed Congress in April of '66. This was an act of Congress, not a constitutional amendment; therefore it didn't require a two-thirds. It was the first statutory definition in American history of the rights of citizenship.


Secondly, this Congress renewed the Freedman's Bureau. They gave it a new life for another year. And they did this — and the Civil Rights Act, by the way — over the rapid and quick veto of Andrew Johnson.


What set in as early as April of 1866 was the Federal Government by veto. Congress would pass a law, whether it's the Civil Rights Act, the renewal of the Freedmen's Bureau, and numerous other things — eventually all four of the Reconstruction Acts in early '67 — and Johnson would veto them





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