The Freedmen's Bureau!

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The Freedmen's Bureau!


Bernard F. Reilly


This poster formed part of a series of political posters authorized by white-supremacist and unsuccessful Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate, Hiester Clymer, during the election of 1866. Clymer, as well as many other leaders who supported President Andrew Johnson's Reconstruction policies, frequently attacked Republicans on the issue of black suffrage. In this picture, a black man lounges on the grass in front of the Capitol building while white men labor industriously in the background. The illustrations of the white men are accompanied by text that states: "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread," and "The white man must work to keep his children and pay his taxes." The black man, on the other hand, questions "Whar is de use for me to work as long as dey make dese appropriations?" The image of the U.S. Capitol is inscribed with the words "Freedom and No Work," "Candy," "Rum, Gin, Whiskey," "Sugar Plums," "Indolence," "White Women," "Apathy," "White Sugar," "Idleness," "Fish Balls," "Clams," "Stews," and "Pies." Included also is a report of the funds appropriated by Congress in support of the Freedmen’s Bureau as well as information on the inequity of the bounties received by black and white veterans of the Civil War. The poster illustrates some of the objections to the Freedmen's Bureau that prompted President Andrew Johnson to veto its extension.


Library of Congress, accessed September 28, 2016,




“The Freedman’s Bureau! An Agency to keep the Negro in idleness at the expense of the white man. Twice Vetoed by the President, and made a law by Congress. Support Congress and you support the Negro. Sustain the President and you protect the white man.” “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread.” “The white man must work to keep his children and pay his taxes.” “For 1864 and 1865, the Freedman’s Bureau cost the Tax-payers of the Nation at least Twenty-five Millions of Dollars. For 1866, the share of the Tax-payers of Pennsylvania will be about One Million Dollars. Geary is FOR the Freedman’s Bureau. Clymer is OPPOSED to it.”