Under the Guardianship of the Nation
The Freedmen’s Bureau and the Reconstruction of Georgia, 1865–1870

Paul A. Cimbala

"This is an excellent institutional history; indeed, it is the most detailed state study of the Freedmen's Bureau to date."—H-CivWar


"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

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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.

Page count: 432 pp.
Trim size: 6.125 x 9.25

Read more about the Freedmen's Bureau at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.


List price: $32.95

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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.