The Freeman's Bureau was established by Congress on March 3, 1865. The bureau was designed to protect the interests of former slaves. This included helping them to find new employment and to improve educational and health facilities. In the year that followed the bureau spent $17,000,000 establishing 4,000 schools, 100 hospitals and providing homes and food for former slaves.
The Freeman's Bureau also helped to establish Howard University in Washington in 1867. Instigated by the Radical Republicans in Congress it was named after General Oliver Howard, a civil War hero and commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees and a leading figure in the Freeman's Bureau.
Attempts by Congress to extend the powers of the Freemen's Bureau was vetoed by President Andrew Johnson in February, 1866. This increased the conflict between Johnson and the Radical Republicans in Congress.