The Demystification of the Freedmen's Bureau Essay

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The role of the Freedmen Bureau in African-American development during the Reconstruction era has been a polarizing topic since the Bureau’s inception. While most concur that the Bureau was well intended, some scholars, believe that the Freedmen’s Bureau was detrimental to African-American development. One such scholar was W.E.B. Dubois, who in his book The Souls of Black Folk, expressed his discontent with the actions of the Bureau and suggested that the Bureau did more harm than good. Upon further probing, research refutes the position that the Freedmen’s Bureau was chiefly detrimental to Black development. While far from flawless in its pursuits to assist the newly freed Negroes, the actions of the Freedmen’s Bureau did not impede …show more content…
Analyzing the other opinions voiced in The Souls of Black Folk provides more insight into why Dubois was not fond of the Bureau. Dubois’s views on classical education and the progress of African-American race correlate with his views on the Freedmen’s Bureau. Thoughts expressed in The Souls of Black Folk promote distinctly anti-agrarian ideas. Dubois opposed the redistribution of land to freedmen because he felt that it would create a “Black peasant proprietor” (Dubois). This belief contrasted with the beliefs of the majority of freedmen, who dreamed of the forty acres acres and a mule. Because of their slave heritage, freedmen tended to support the agrarian lifestyle. For the large majority of freedmen, being able to own and work their own land was the ultimate goal (Abbot 150-151); however, Dubois believed that classical education and not farm work was the key to progress for African-American race (Dubois). Dislike for a reversion to a life of agriculture also fueled Dubois’s disdain for contracted labor as well. Believing that contract labor was a form of serfdom and comparing sharecropping to slavery, Dubois’s vehemently opposed the proliferation of labor contracts. The Freedmen’s Bureau, a major supporter of contracted labor and helped African-Americans to find suitable employers, as well as negotiate a fair wage. The blue-collar intensive farm work associated

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