Learn about the successes, challenges and failures of the Freedmen’s Bureau in Texas at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 6, at the Allen Public Library. The guest speaker will be Dr. Christopher Bean, author of Too Great a Burden to Bear: The Struggle and Failure of the Freedmen's Bureau in Texas.
The Freedmen’s Bureau provided valuable assistance to former slaves by offering food, clothing, shelter, educational opportunities, and medical assistance. In this region, armed conflicts between the union and confederate sympathizers continued after the war, and freed slaves were often caught in the middle. These skirmishes led them to seek protection from the Freedmen’s Bureau.
Dr. Bean will discuss profiles of bureau officials who assisted former slaves in transitioning to a life of freedom. Agents were motivated by their sense of fairness and ideas of citizenship, gender, and labor. These men further ensured the former slaves had access to an education, a right that was unavailable during bondage.
Due to lack of funding and staffing, many of the goals were not met. Agents were frequently treated with hostility, and in some cases, they were murdered. This frightened other agents from assuming those posts. Despite the agency’s shortcomings, Dr. Bean declares, “The country asked them to do the unprecedented, and despite falling short of some expectations (including some of their own), they achieved more than many thought possible.”
Dr. Christopher B. Bean is Assistant Professor of History and Native American Studies at East Central University, Oklahoma. Dr. Bean completed his doctorate from the University of North Texas. He has written articles for several history journals and presented papers at history conferences.
Sponsored by the Allen Public Library, the program is free. The library is located at 300 N. Allen Dr. Call 214-509-4911 for more information.