Under the Guardianship of the Nation

The Freedmen's Bureau and the Reconstruction of Georgia, 1865-1870

Title Details

Pages: 432

Illustrations: 15 b&w photos

Trim size: 6.120in x 9.250in



Pub Date: 03/10/2003

ISBN: 9-780-8203-2511-8

List Price: $36.95

Under the Guardianship of the Nation

The Freedmen's Bureau and the Reconstruction of Georgia, 1865-1870

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The Freedmen's Bureau was an extraordinary agency established by Congress in 1865, born of the expansion of federal power during the Civil War and the Union's desire to protect and provide for the South's emancipated slaves. Charged with the mandate to change the southern racial "status quo" in education, civil rights, and labor, the Bureau was in a position to play a crucial role in the implementation of Reconstruction policy.

The ineffectiveness of the Bureau in Georgia and other southern states has often been blamed on the racism of its northern administrators, but Paul A. Cimbala finds the explanation to be much more complex. In this remarkably balanced account, he blames the failure on a combination of the Bureau's northern free-labor ideology, limited resources, and temporary nature—as well as deeply rooted white southern hostility toward change. Because of these factors, the Bureau in practice left freedpeople and ex-masters to create their own new social, political, and economic arrangements.

This is the finest, most detailed, most commonsensical study of the Freedmen's Bureau in any state that has ever been written.

—Barry A. Crouch, author of The Freedmen's Bureau and Black Texans

A detailed narrative, gracefully and engagingly written . . . This excellent piece of scholarship belongs among the best recent studies of the Reconstruction era.

History: Reviews of New Books

Cimbala's in-depth look at the operations of the Freedmen's Bureau in Georgia provides a useful corrective to those inclined to judge the bureau harshly.

Journal of American History

Diligent primary source research, keen analysis, and a fine narrative style are blended here to produce the definitive work on the Bureau . . . in Georgia.

Florida Historical Quarterly

One of the most balanced, objective, and detailed studies available on the subject.

North Carolina Historical Review

Well-researched . . . A useful addition to Reconstruction scholarship.

American Historical Review

Cimbala gives us a valuable account of the workings of the Bureau on the local level in the agency's declining days.

Journal of Southern History

This is an excellent institutional history; indeed, it is the most detailed state study of the Freedman's Bureau to date.



Malcolm Bell, Jr., and Muriel Barrow Bell Award, Georgia Historical Society

About the Author/Editor

PAUL A. CIMBALA is an associate professor of history and chair of the History Department at Fordham University. He is the coeditor of Historians and Race: Autobiography and the Writing of History.