Knowing that democracy flourishes best in an open environment with an educated citizenry, Congress has promoted public education, supported the arts and sciences, and made access to learning a priority in challenging times. During the Civil War, Congress supported public education through the creation of land-grant colleges. These institutions opened up opportunities to people previously excluded from higher education. During Reconstruction, Congress created the Freedmen’s Bureau, which found buildings suitable for classrooms and worked with other aid organizations to recruit teachers. As America faced international competition in the 20th century, Congress responded with support for schools and colleges to train Americans in science, technology, languages and other essential skills.