Like any controversial subject, the Freedmen’s Bureau is difficult to evaluate. Nearly any generalization applied to that federal agency requires qualification. It possessed some undesirable features, but it had many redeeming traits and much of its work is deserving of commendation. Furthermore, the organization of the Bureau was flexible enough to enable it to adapt to and meet local needs. Therefore, its value in any locale depended to a large extent on the character and competency of the Assistant Commissioner and local agents. The Bureau officials in Florida were, in general, a creditable group and their accomplishments are worthy of praise. A New York Times correspondent wrote in June, 1866, that both whites and Negroes spoke highly of Florida Assistant Commissioner Thomas W. Osborn. Not only was he an “upright and efficient officer,” they said, but as a general thing his subordinates were “men of honor and respectability.” The Steedman-Fullerton investigation of early 1866, which was obviously intended to discredit the Bureau, gave Florida a favorable report. Even conservative newspapers frequently expressed approval of the Bureau. The editor of the conservative Tallahassee Floridian wrote in May, 1866, “we doubt whether the duties of the Bureau could have been administered by anyone more acceptably, alike to the blacks and whites, than they have been by Col. Osborn. . . . Few could have done better - many might have done worse.
Richardson, Joe M.
"An Evaluation of the Freedmen's Bureau in Florida,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 41:
3, Article 4.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol41/iss3/4