40 acres and a mule


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40 acres and a mule

1. Something given by the government. The phrase refers to a promise made during the Civil War by Union general William T. Sherman that freed slaves would receive 40 acres of land and a mule. However, after the war that land was given back to its original owners. I'm doing just fine on my own—I don't need 40 acres and a mule from Uncle Sam.
2. A promise or assurance that proves to be false. I think he's just tempting us with that offer, and it'll turn out to be 40 acres and a mule.
See also: 40, acre, and, mule
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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 Following the war, however, President Johnson rescinded Sherman's order, and the appropriated land was restored to its owners.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
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
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References in periodicals archive ?
Most students are aware, for example, that the promise of "40 acres and a mule" tragically was not kept, but the author carefully explains how alternate plans might have worked if implemented fairly.
Long before the phrase "40 acres and a mule" was coined to describe what free black Americans were owed for years of being enslaved, abolitionists discussed compensating slaves for what had been unjustly taken from them.
With "40 acres and a mule," the freedmen not only could raise crops to support their families, they could raise capital to support their futures.
Oliver Otis Howard, founder of Howard University, was halted from fulfilling the promise of "40 acres and a mule." On Kiawah Island today, a four-bedroom beach house on one acre of land alone is listed for $3 million.
After reading Kevin Clarke's Margin Notes, "Mutiny over the bounty" (February), in which he comments on reparations for slavery, I was compelled to write and share why I'm still waiting for my 40 acres and a mule.
Savannah is where the Negro Baptist Church began in America and where Sherman promised newly freed slaves "40 acres and a mule."
IRS spokesperson Anthony Burke said the basis of the claims dated back to the 1860s, when Congress voted to provide each former slave with 40 acres and a mule as redress for their years in slavery.
Instead of handing freed blacks 40 acres and a mule, the federal government gave in to southern Democrats and returned most confiscated land to its original white owners.
Not since the promise of "40 acres and a mule" has there been such heated debate about reparations for the transatlantic slave trade.
The notion of "40 acres and a mule" has been bandied about for years as an engaging, if unrealistic, thought of how best to level the playing field between African Americans and whites.
The many people in front of and behind the camera who have worked with Lee's 40 Acres and A Mule Filmworks grows more impressive each year, including Oscar history-makers Denzel Washington and Halle Berry, who gave Spike his due in the book.
"Would I start getting things in the mail saying, `Hi mixed person?' If I won't get 40 acres and a mule, then what about 20 acres and a chicken?" When the results are tallied, the Census is expected to show a continued trend since the 1960s--when the Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage--that the numbers of interracial births are steadily spiking.