State marks '40 acres and a mule'

by Russ Bynum Associated Press Write SAVANNAH - It was an attempt by the U.S. government to help…

Georgia (Mar 8, 2011) — SAVANNAH - It was an attempt by the U.S. government to help former slaves on the road to freedom. Known by the phrase "40 acres and a mule," it came to symbolize America's broken promises during a century of struggles for black Americans following the Civil War.


Link To Article
by Russ Bynum
Associated Press Write

The policy was hatched in Savannah by Gen. William T. Sherman in January 1865, a month after his Union troops captured the city. The idea: give thousands of freed slaves land seized from white planters on the Georgia coast, plus a mule to help farm it.

To coincide with the 150th anniversary of the first shots of the Civil War, the Georgia Historical Society unveiled a historical marker Friday summing up the history of "40 acres" outside the cotton merchant's mansion that served as Sherman's headquarters toward the end of the war. About 80 people gathered to watch in oak-shaded Madison Square.

"This was an event of national significance," said Todd Groce, the society's president. "You're at a point where African-Americans are beginning to make a transition out of generations of slavery. And we see just how long and painful a road that's going to be." …

While "40 acres" may have been about military expediency for Sherman, it held great hope for blacks yearning to profit from their own labor for the first time, said Hermina Glass-Avery, associate director of the Center for the Study of the Civil War Era at Kennesaw State University.

"Once a person owns property, they have a say in the government and a say in capitalism," Glass-Avery said. "That was the moment that could have made the difference between the levels of poverty, racism and discrimination that existed for at least another hundred years until the 1960s."


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit