Agents of Change: The Freedmen’s Bureau in Western North Carolina

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This presentation explores the role the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (commonly referred to as the Freedmen’s Bureau) played in western North Carolina’s reconstruction. It may seem ironic that an agency tasked with aiding the adjustment from slavery to free labor was in the southern mountains, but the irony dissipates in light of the evidence. The Conservative Party’s resumption of local control in 1865 led white Unionists to embrace the Republican Party and black political cooperation two years later, a move that would have been impossible without the Freedmen’s Bureau. Its agents represented the most tangible source of federal power in the mountain counties, and as such helped build relationships between black and white mountaineers that allowed the Republicans to sweep the pivotal local and state elections of 1868.


Morganton, WV

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