Howard, Oliver Otis
President Andrew Johnson made Howard, who was devoted to the cause of African-American betterment, chief commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau in May, 1865. The bureau, under difficult circumstances, provided necessary and useful services. Although some officials were dishonest, the corruption has sometimes been overstated. Howard himself was honest; but he was not an able administrator. A founder (1867) of Howard Univ. (named for him), he was its president (1869–73). He later helped to found Lincoln Memorial Univ. in Tennessee.
As commander of the Dept. of the Columbia (1874–81), Howard directed several campaigns against the Native Americans and negotiated with Chief Joseph in 1877. In 1886 he was promoted to major general and assigned to command the Division of the East; he held this post until his retirement in 1894. He wrote biographies of Chief Joseph (1881) and Zachary Taylor (1892), as well as Famous Indian Chiefs I Have Known (1908) and an autobiography (1907).
See biography by J. A. Carpenter (1964); study by W. S. McFeely (1968).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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