Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule by Harriette Gillem Robinet | ScholasticThis collection chronicles the tumultuous history of landowning African American farmers from the end of the Civil War to today. Each essay provides a case study of people in one place at a particular time and the factors that affected their ability to acquire, secure, and protect their land. The contributors walk readers through a century and a half of African American agricultural history, from the strivings of black farm owners in the immediate post-emancipation period to the efforts of contemporary black farm owners to receive justice through the courts for decades of discrimination by the U. S Department of Agriculture. They reveal that despite enormous obstacles, by a quarter of African American farm families owned their land, and demonstrate that farm ownership was not simply a departure point for black migrants seeking a better life but a core component of the African American experience.
40 Acres & a Mule
Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule
As Northern armies moved through the South at the end of the war, blacks began cultivating land abandoned by whites. Rumors developed that land would be seized from Confederates, and given or sold to freedmen. These rumors rested on solid foundations: abolitionists had discussed land redistribution at the beginning of the war, and in President Abraham Lincoln ordered 20, acres of land confiscated in South Carolina sold to freedmen in twenty-acre plots. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon Chase expanded the offering to forty acres per family. In January General William T. Sherman met with twenty African American leaders who told him that land ownership was the best way for blacks to secure and enjoy their newfound freedom.
Forty acres and a mule is part of Special Field Orders No. Sherman later ordered the army to lend mules for the agrarian reform effort.
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