Forty acres and a mule


Also found in: Wikipedia.

Forty acres and a mule

A a government handout; a broken promise. As Union general William T. Sherman marched through Georgia and other parts of the confederacy during the Civil War, he promised freed slaves the gift of forty acres of South Carolina and Georgia farmland and an army mule with which to work the soil. Following the war, however, President Johnson rescinded Sherman's order, and the appropriated land was restored to its owners. While most citizens adopted the phrase as a metaphor for either any form of government handout (or a trifling salary or bonus from their employer), African-Americans who remembered the expression's history used it as a rueful reminder of a offer that was reneged upon.
See also: acre, and, forty, mule
References in periodicals archive ?
The government never actually promised anyone forty acres and a mule.
Whether you have forty acres and a mule or a condo with a balcony, you can do more than you think to safeguard your health, your money, and the planet.
I think after the movie, (these comedians) will be bombarded with offers," predicts Walter Latham, who promoted the tour and whose Latham Entertainment co-produced the film with MTV Films and Lee's Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks.
The vetoing of the Freedman's Bureau, which was the agency that was supposed to redistribute the Slave Plantations at Forty Acres and A Mule to each ex slave family, allowed the land to be eventually seized by the speculators and the carpetbaggers and wind up almost wholly owned by huge agribusiness corporations.
Even the name of Lee's production company, Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks - an allusion to a still-born legislative proposal after the Civil War to give land and the means to cultivate it to each freed slave - acknowledges, however reluctantly (note the "pause" in Lee's assertion), the free-enterprise economy as that medium of empowerment most pragmatically instrumental to African-American culture.
Rhetoric, yes, and Williams must know the forty acres and a mule ain't coming.
The myth of forty acres and a mule haunts his arguments for African American rights to access in culture industries and artistic spaces.
interest's got to go on just like rent I may be crazy but I ain't no fool one hundred years of debt at 10% per year per forty acres and per mule now add that up wooee looka' there no wonder y'all call great grandma a jewel just pay me that and call the whole thing square yes, lawdy, forty acres and a mule