Author ORCID Identifier
Year of Publication
Master of Arts (MA)
Arts and Sciences
Dr. Amy Murrell Taylor
As an agent of the Freedmen’s Bureau and military officer, James Beecher embodied Federal power in the South Carolina Lowcountry. During Presidential Reconstruction, Beecher became a key administrator of Order No.15 that promised formerly enslaved peoples’s “40 acres and a mule” that formerly belonged to white plantation owners. Beecher, despite his antebellum abolitionist politics, was remarkably unsympathetic to freedpeople’s desire for independent landholding. Beecher believed that freedpeople were unfit for immediate citizenship and should sign labor contracts to return to plantations where they might be inculcated with Northern free labor values. Amid epidemic disease, famine, and white paramilitary violence, James Beecher chose to exert the full force of the Federal government not to remedy the humanitarian crises, but to coerce freedpeople into the signing of labor contracts. In his year of service, Beecher clashed with other administrators and freedpeople, yet achieved his goal of defeating widespread Black land ownership.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Sauers, Cameron, "'Grave Fears of Collision' : James Beecher and the Administration of Freedmen's Bureau Policy in Reconstruction South Carolina" (2023). Theses and Dissertations--History. 78.
Available for download on Sunday, May 11, 2025