What Was “40 Acres and A Mule” And the Truth Behind It

There were lots of promises that were made to the African American community, which comprised of former slaves in the United States. One of the stories that we have heard and which touches on that line is the “40 acres and a mule”.

The promise was actually the first of an attempt to pay reparations to former slaves that had been freed, and for the time which the promise was issued, it was seriously astonishing because it was not only unexpected but could never have been imagined. The implications which this has were proto socialist and would have been compared to a government that snatches hundreds of acres of private land and has the same property distributed.

However, what the vast majority of us have not heard is that the suggestion emanated from the black leaders themselves.

40 Acres and A Mule was a revolutionary idea

There cannot be enough stressing how this idea was revolutionary especially in the southern parts of the United States where slaves were mostly used to provide labor in the vast plantations. If this policy had been implemented, there could be a huge change that could affect the history of race positively. The former slaves would have land where they could carry out their economic activities and could be proud owners of the land, just like other Americans who are not persons of color.

After all, one of the key promises that  America made was for the average person to own a piece of land, and this promise was never realized for the vast majority of the American population of the former slaves who were used to provide labor in ranches for many years. The slaves numbered about 3.9 million and their lives could have changed for the better and the American history relating to racial relations could have been rewritten.

What was promised in the signed document?

There was an order issued, known as Special Field Order No. 15 that called for massive land redistribution. The order was published after a discussion between Sherman and war secretary Edwin M. Stanton. They had held discussions and agreed that they would give 40 acres to every family, but the mule would come later. While the discussion was taking place, there were 20 black leaders available. This meeting is among the most unprecedented in the history of the African American community.

Why the phrase 40 acres and a mule?

The reason why people use this phrase most of the time is that they didn’t read the order itself. The land that had been reserved for the resettlement of negroes is from the islands from Charleston, south,  to the abandoned rice fields that are along the rivers for 30 miles back from the sea, as well as the country that borders the St. Johns river, in  Florida. Also, section two of the order stated that the negroes  will have black people who will govern them. It was agreed that no white person would be agreed to live in the specified black resettlement areas unless s military officers were on duty. By the state’s laws of war, the United States President declared that the Negroes were free and would be treated as such.

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