(1865–72) U.S. agency established during Reconstruction to help freed slaves in their transition to freedom. Officially named the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, it was directed by Oliver O. Howard. It built hospitals and provided medical assistance to more than 1 million freed blacks and 21 million rations for blacks and whites. It also built more than 1,000 schools for black children and helped found colleges and teacher-training institutes for blacks, but it had little success in safeguarding civil rights and promoting land redistribution. Congress later responded to pressure from white Southerners by terminating the bureau.
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