This section is from "The American Cyclopaedia", by George Ripley And Charles A. Dana. Also available from Amazon: The New American Cyclopędia. 16 volumes complete..
Freedmen (liberti libertini), the designation of manumitted slaves in Roman antiquity. They were called liberti with reference to their masters, and libertini with reference to their new rank or condition. According to various circumstances, defined by law, the freedmen became Roman citizens, Junian Latins (from the Junian law which gave them freedom, and the similarity of their status to that of Latin colonists), or dediticii. The last were neither citizens (Roman or Latin) nor slaves. The Junian Latins suffered great disabilities as to property, but could in various ways rise to citizenship. But even the freedmen of the first class were not genuine (ingenui) citizens, and remained under certain obligations to their masters. The freedmen wore a cap as a sign of freedom, and took the names of their previous owners. The sons of freedmen became genuine citizens. In later times the number of manumitted slaves increased to an alarming extent, and some of the emperors passed laws restricting manumission. (See Slavery.)-In the United States the term denotes the colored people emancipated by the civil war.
Soon after its commencement, and especially after the issuing of the proclamation of emancipation by President Lincoln, Jan. 1, 1803, large numbers of slaves abandoned by or escaping from their masters came within the federal lines. The duty of caring for these helpless people was devolved first upon the war department, and afterward upon the treasury department. They were supplied with food and clothing, and were largely employed in the work of fortification, and in other labor in aid of the army. Plantations abandoned by their owners were also set apart for the use of freedmen, which they occupied in some cases on their own account, but generally as employees of the government or of individuals to whom the abandoned lands were leased. Enlisted in the federal army to the number of 178,975 during the war, the colored soldiers proved themselves unsurpassed in bravery and aptitude for military life. Various charitable and religious organizations at the north did much for the education of the freedmen, for which they manifested an intense desire, by organizing schools and employing teachers.
At the close of the war the late slaves flocked to the cities and principal towns, and large numbers were dependent upon the government for transportation to points where work could be obtained, while an active supervision was necessary to protect their rights from the encroachments of their former masters, and to prepare them for a life of freedom. To enable the government to fulfil these duties, the act of congress of March 3, 1805, was passed, organizing in the war department the "bureau of refugees, freedmen, and abandoned lands," popularly known as the "freed-men's bureau," which, with powers enlarged by subsequent acts, remained in operation until Jan. 1, 1809, when its functions ceased, with the exception of the educational department, which continued till July 1, 1870, and that for the collection of claims, which is still in operation. It was placed in charge of Maj. Gen. O. O. Howard as commissioner, with 10 assistant commissioners, aided by various subordinates, in the late insurrectionary states. .It exercised a general supervision over the freedmen as well as over loyal refugees, protecting them in their rights, deciding their disputes, aiding them in obtaining work, extending to them facilities of education, and furnishing them with medical treatment.
The collection of the claims of colored soldiers and sailors for pay, bounty, prize money, etc, by which they were protected from fraud, was an important function of the bureau. The number of day and night schools making regular reports in operation at the close of each school year (June 30), with the number of teachers and pupils, is shown in the following table, besides which there were Sunday schools, industrial schools, and many day and night schools making only occasional reports to the bureau:
DAY AND NIGHT SCHOOLS.
Number of pupils in schools of all kinds.
Of the number reported in 1867, 423 were night schools, 555 were wholly and 501 partly sustained by freedmen, who owned 391 school buildings, and 471, including 21 high and normal schools, were graded. Of the teachers 1,388 were white and 699 colored. The whole number of schools of all kinds was 3,675, including 1,468 Sunday schools with 105,786 pupils, and 35 industrial schools with 2,124 pupils. The total expenses for the six months ending June 30 were $527,666, of which $87,-332 were paid by freedmen and $220,833 by the bureau. Of the number reported in 1870, 1,324 were sustained wholly or partly by freedmen, who owned 592 school buildings, and 74, with 8,147 pupils, were high or normal schools. Of the teachers 1,251 were white and 1,312 colored. The whole number of schools of all kinds was 4,239, with 9,307 teachers, including 1,562 Sunday schools with 6,007 teachers and 97,752 pupils, and 61 industrial schools with 1,750 pupils. The whole amount expended for schools for the six months ending June 30 was $1,002,896, of which $200,000 were paid by freedmen and $442,896 by the bureau. The total expenditure of the bureau for educational purposes to Aug. 31, 1871, was $3,711,264, the greater portion of which was for the erection and renting of school buildings.
The bureau aided in establishing a large number of institutions for the higher education of the freedmen, many of which have continued in operation to the present time. Among these may be mentioned Howard university, at Washington; Atlanta university, at Atlanta, Ga.; Claflin university, at Orangeburg, S. C.; Straight university, at New Orleans, La.; Fisk university and the Central Tennessee college, at Nashville, Tenn.; Wayland seminary (theological), at Washington; and the Hampton normal and agricultural institute, at Hampton, Va. Nearly 800,000 acres of farming land and 5,000 pieces of town property, afterward restored to the owners, were at various times under the charge of the bureau, and the rents collected amounted to $400,000. The number of rations issued to freedmen was over 15,000,000; number of freedmen furnished with transportation, about 30,000; number of sick, including refugees, treated, 590,000. The amount of claims collected and paid over to Aug. 31, 1871, was $8,418,051. The bureau was supported mainly by congressional appropriations, though the receipts from certain miscellaneous sources, including the sale and rental of confederate property, fines, marriage certificates, donations, etc, known as the freedmen's and school funds, were set apart for its benefit.
The total expenditure to Aug. 31, 1871, including accounts in favor of the freedmen from Jan. 1, 1865, was $14,996,480, of which $1,910,355 were derived from the freedmen's and school funds.