A federal government agency that aided former slaves after the Civil War.
An act was passed by Congress on March 3, 1865, to establish a bureau for blacks and whites left destitute by the Civil War. The bureau supervised all affairs relating to refugees and freedmen, such as employment and the allotment of rations, clothing, and medicine, and it controlled abandoned or confiscated lands and property. The agency received military aid and operated primarily in the former Confederate and Border states and the District of Columbia. The bureau was officially abolished on June 10, 1872.
The Bureau was an important early force in establishing education and civil rights for freedmen. Its power waned as Johnson used his ubiquitous veto on it to combat the Radical Republicans.