The American Freedmen's Inquiry Commission was charged by U.S. Secretary of WarEdwin McMasters Stanton in March of 1863 with investigating the status of the slaves and former slaves who were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Stanton appointed Samuel Gridley Howe, James McKaye, and Robert Dale Owen as commissioners, all three of whom served from the creation of the committee in 1863 through to their submission of its final report in May of 1864. These committees traveled south and interviewed former slaves and Union field commanders to get a better grasp of what the situation in the South was. The Commission helped with the transition of African Americans from a life of slavery to a free life. The Commission used Federal money to establish schools and churches in the South in an attempt to employ and educate former slaves. The Commission's mission was successful, and the bill's life was extended in Congress in January 1866.