Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1014105
 
 

Citations (2)



 
 

Footnotes (276)



 


 



The Power to Do What Manifestly Must Be Done: Congress, the Freedmen's Bureau, and Constitutional Imagination


John M. Bickers


Northern Kentucky University - Salmon P. Chase College of Law


Roger Williams University Law Review, Vol. 12, No. 70, 2006

Abstract:     
This article considers the example of one of the odder entities in American legal history: the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. This agency, more commonly called the Freedmen's Bureau, existed from the late days of the Civil War through the end of Reconstruction. It did extraordinary, unprecedented things. It spent all of its days in turmoil, beset by enemies on many sides. This new federal agency, given a broad mandate to remedy some of the evils of slavery, aroused opposition among border state politicians, former slave owners, and other defenders of the status quo. More surprising are the concerns raised even by some of its supporters in Congress, concerns over not only the practical nature of its operation but, importantly, the constitutional bases on which it rested. The Bureau functioned in a wholly new frontier of American law. For the first time, the federal government would operate directly in the personal lives of a large body of citizens: it would review private contracts, settle labor and property disputes, operate schools, and even serve as a licenser of marriages. These activities were virtually, if not entirely, unknown before - and some of them since - within what the Framers had called the general government. This article examines the arguments in Congress over that extension of federal power. It reviews the arguments of opponents and supporters as to the appropriateness of the Bureau within our constitutional system. It attempts to derive some constitutional principles from that debate which may be of value for the future as we continue our endless dialogue about the nature of the federal system.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 58

Keywords: Reconstruction, Congressional Authority, Freedmen's Bureau

Accepted Paper Series





Download This Paper

Date posted: September 13, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Bickers, John M., The Power to Do What Manifestly Must Be Done: Congress, the Freedmen's Bureau, and Constitutional Imagination. Roger Williams University Law Review, Vol. 12, No. 70, 2006. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1014105

Contact Information

John M. Bickers (Contact Author)
Northern Kentucky University - Salmon P. Chase College of Law ( email )
Nunn Hall
Highland Heights, KY 41099
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 1,271
Downloads: 114
Download Rank: 148,106
Citations:  2
Footnotes:  276

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo3 in 0.578 seconds