Thomas W. Conway

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Reverend Thomas W. Conway was assistant commissioner of the Freedmen Bureau in Alabama and Louisiana during the Reconstruction era that followed the American Civil War. He published The Freedmen of Louisiana : Final Report of the Bureau of Free Labor, Department of the Gulf, to Major General Canby, Commanding. Freedmen's Bureau activities in Louisiana began on June 13, 1865 when the Bureau's commissioner, Oliver O. Howard, appointed Chaplain Thomas W. Conway as the state's assistant commissioner. Another seven assistant commissioners would later hold the office. [1]

American Civil War Civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865

The American Civil War was a war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The Civil War is the most studied and written about episode in U.S. history. Primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people, war broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery.

Conway was superintendent of freedmen in the Union Army's Department of the Gulf. In April 1865, he was given command of the Freedmen Bureau's Alabama operations as interim Freedmen's Bureau assistant commissioner for the state. Conway reported on the horrible conditions African Americans faced in the American South including a lack of housing, food, and brutal attacks from angry whites. He appealed for funding from the North. [2] In May 1865 he adopted a set of labor regulations he drafted for Louisiana while under the authority of Major General Stephen Hurlbut. [3]

Union Army Land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War

During the American Civil War, the Union Army referred to the United States Army, the land force that fought to preserve the Union of the collective states. Also known as the Federal Army, it proved essential to the preservation of the United States of America as a working, viable republic.

Department of the Gulf

The Department of the Gulf was a command of the United States Army in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and of the Confederate States Army during the Civil War.

In 1866 he wrote a letter to the Chamber of Commerce of the state of New York seeking support for a trip to England he planned seeking capital investments for cotton cultivation projects he said would benefit White and Black residents of Louisiana and help calm tensions. [4] He issued a series of orders regarding abandoned lands, sick refugees and freedmen, as well as other issues under the Freedmen Bureau's purview. [5] Conway supervised the opening of the Abraham Lincoln School on the campus of the University of Louisiana (predecessor to Tulane University), a school for African Americans.

Abraham Lincoln School

Abraham Lincoln School was for freedmen and opened on October 3, 1865 in New Orleans on the campus of University of Louisiana after the American Civil War. It was featured on the cover of Harper's Weekly.

Tulane University private university in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Tulane University is a private, nonsectarian research university in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. It is considered the top university and the most selective institution of higher education in the state of Louisiana. The school is known to attract a geographically diverse student body, with 85 percent of undergraduate students coming from over 300 miles away.

After passage of the Reconstruction Acts of 1867, Conway was no longer an official with the Freedmen Bureau but remained in contact with Howard and had introductory letters from Hulbert for a tour of Bureau activities in the South. He reported on assistance the Bureau and its officials were providing to the Union League. [6]

Union League

The Union Leagues were quasi-secretive, men’s clubs established during the American Civil War (1861–1865), to promote loyalty to the Union of the United States of America, the policies of newly elected 16th President Abraham Lincoln, and to combat what they believed to be the treasonous words and actions of anti-war, antiblack "Copperhead" Democrats. Though initially nonpartisan, by the war's last year they were in open alliance with the Republican Party, pro-Union Democrats, and the Union military. The most famous of these clubs were formed in Philadelphia, New York, and Boston and were composed of prosperous men who raised money for war-related service organizations, such as the United States Sanitary Commission, which provided medical care to treat Federal soldiers wounded in battle at a time when the military was ill-prepared for the scale of need. The clubs supported the Republican Party with funding, organizational support, and activism. Union Leagues also existed throughout the land which were created primarily by working-class men. By the spring of 1863, these disparate councils were organized under the Union League of America (ULA) organization which was headquartered in Washington DC. Like-minded organizations aimed at the working class were also created in New York which became known as Loyal Leagues. Similar patriotic organizations also existed for women and were known as Ladies Union Leagues.

Conway was involved in Republican Party organizing during the Reconstruction era and was a fierce critic of Louis Charles Roudanez and lobbied in Washington D.C. for a switch from Roudanez' paper to the Republican as the party's official journal. [7]

Louis Charles Roudanez, M.D. (1823-1890) was an American physician and the founder of the first African American newspaper in the American South, the first black daily newspaper, and the first bilingual newspaper for African Americans in the United States. Roudanez, who was Creole, worked with francophone astronomer and author Jean-Charles Houzeau, who wrote for two of his papers and later published an account of his time working at Roudanez' L'Union and The New Orleans Tribune in New Orleans during the volatile Civil War era.

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  1. National Archives, online pdf
  2. Richardson, Joe M. (2009). Christian Reconstruction: The American Missionary Association and Southern Blacks, 1861-1890. University of Alabama Press. ISBN   9780817355388 . Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  3. Schmidt, James D. (1998). Free to Work: Labor Law, Emancipation, and Reconstruction, 1815-1880. University of Georgia Press. ISBN   9780820320342 . Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  4. Annual Report of the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York, for the Year ... Wheeler and Williams. 1866. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  5. Representatives, United States House of (1866). House Documents. U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  6. USAF, Major William H. Burks (2015). The Freedmen’s Bureau, Politics, And Stability Operations During Reconstruction In The South. Pickle Partners Publishing. ISBN   9781782899297 . Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  7. Houzeau, Jean-Charles (2001). My Passage at the New Orleans Tribune: A Memoir of the Civil War Era. LSU Press. ISBN   9780807167236 . Retrieved 24 February 2018.