[ 1860 ]

First Hope For Freedom

“Many Rivers to Cross”
2001Blind Boys of Alabama Flying In A Blue Dream
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Civil War

Promises Unkept

40 Acres And A Mule
January 16, 1865Special Field Orders No. 15

A Wartime Order was proclaimed by Union General William Tecumseh Sherman ordered that at the end of the (Civil) War, 40-acre plots of land should be allotted to a number of recently freed families, those who had, for more than one generation had worked the land as slaves.
Later, arguing that it would help in the country’s agrarian reform effort.
Sherman broadened his effort, ordering the army to provide mules (one per family),

April 14, 1865Abraham Lincoln
16th President of The United States of America
Freedom Assassinated
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U.S. (Government Aid) to recently freed black farmers.


Forty Acres and a Mule
Approved by President Abraham Lincoln

1865 — January 16.
The Field Orders No.15
Inspired during conversations between Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and (Radical Republican) abolitionists Charles Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens.

African American Republicans / For The Love of Lincoln

Sen. Robert Byrd (D) West Virginia

Sen. Jesse Helms (R) North Carolina


1860 — FLORIDA
St. Augustine

— Fla.

The Darkey’s Millennium 

40 Acres And A Mule
from Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views.

Many freed people were told by many political figures, and believed they had a right to own the land they had long worked as slaves.

It was widely expected, that the Recently Freed, would be entitled to 40 acres of land (a quarter-quarter section) and one mule when the war ended.

long after proclamations such as Special Field Orders No. 15 and the Freedmen’s Bureau Act were explicitly reversed by Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson.

Some land redistribution occurred under military jurisdiction during the war and for a brief period thereafter. However, federal and state policy during the Reconstruction era emphasized wage labor, not land ownership, for blacks. Almost all land allocated during the war was restored to its pre-war white owners. Several black communities did maintain control of their land, and some families obtained new land by homesteading. Black land ownership increased markedly in Mississippi during the 19th century, particularly. The state had much undeveloped bottomland behind riverfront areas that had been cultivated before the war. Most blacks acquired land through private transactions, with ownership peaking at 15,000,000 acres (6,100,000 ha) in 1910, before an extended financial recession caused problems that resulted in the loss of their property for many.

Forty Acres and a Mule: The Freedman’s Bureau and Black Land Ownership
Claude F. Oubre Louisiana State University Press (2012)
First published in 1978, this work has since become a definitive study in the history of American Reconstruction. The author examines of why the majority of freed slaves were denied the opportunity to own land during the Reconstruction era, leaving them vulnerable to a persecution that strongly resembled slavery. He recounts the struggle of black families to acquire land and how the U.S. government agency Freedmen’s Bureau both served and obstructed them.


— Blind Boys of Alabama