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Diary of Samuel Denham Barnes, December 10th, 1865 Entry

Under the auspices of the War Department, the Freedmen’s Bureau assigned army officers like Lieutenant Samuel Denham Barnes—Brevet Captain of the 72nd Illinois Infantry Regiment in the Civil War—to organize bureau activities throughout the South. Barnes’s diary describes his experiences in Mississippi, where he worked with formerly enslaved people to establish local schools.

Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

Diary of Samuel Denham Barnes, December 10th, 1865 Entry

The Freedmen's Bureau - 1

In 1865 Congress created the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, to address the needs of displaced and formerly enslaved persons. The bureau administered humanitarian, economic, and legal services; supervised labor contracts; and redistributed abandoned lands. Congress re-chartered the Freedmen’s Bureau over President Andrew Johnson’s veto in 1866, but terminated its activities in 1872. African Americans elected to the House who had worked for the Freedmen’s Bureau included John Mercer Langston, Jeremiah Haralson, Josiah Walls, and Robert C. De Large.