At the close of the Civil War, Union army officers arrived in Florida to serve as agents of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (the "Bureau"). In addition to their official Bureau duties, the agents, often the sole representatives of the Federal government in their assigned districts, acted as protectors of the newly freed slaves against a recalcitrant white population that refused to accept the blacks' liberated status. As Congress implemented its Reconstruction plan, the agents helped organize the Republican Party in Florida in anticipation of readmission and encouraged the freedmen to become loyal Republican voters. The Bureau agents soon confronted an unanticipated situation, however, when enfranchised blacks acted not merely as their wards but also as competitors for political power. This struggle for control within the Republican Party continued throughout the Reconstruction Era.
Weinfeld, Daniel R.
"More Courage Than Discretion: Charles M. Hamilton in Reconstruction-Era Florida,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 84:
4, Article 3.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol84/iss4/3