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Tuesday, March 31 • 10:50am - 11:05am
Jonathan Michael Ragsdale: The Freedmen's Bureau in Florida: The Struggle of Establishing the Freed Slave

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When the Emancipation Proclamation was passed on January 1, 1863, over four million slaves were freed in the Confederacy. However, following the passing of the act, and the closing days of the Civil War, it became clear that without proper aid and guidance freed slaves would fall into a state of destitution. Thus the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands was established on March 3, 1865, and tasked with managing abandoned lands, and aiding all refugees and former slaves. The Floridian branch of the bureau opened in September that year with Officer Thomas W. Osborn as the Assistant Commissioner. Yet, despite its noble mission, the bureau has traditionally been portrayed as incompetent and corrupt. In truth, the Floridian bureau accomplished most of its agenda despite fierce opposition from Floridians and the state itself. These accomplishments include providing immediate aid and shelter to refugees and freed slaves, negotiating fair labor contracts, and establishing the first public school system Florida, which still exists today as the Florida Department of Education.

Tuesday March 31, 2015 10:50am - 11:05am EDT
Civic Center - Meeting Room B - Ground Floor 505 West Pensacola Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301