Supreme Court grants black man “40 acres of land and a mule”

Washington, D.C. | The Supreme Court of the United States has granted to the Georgian slave descendant, Abraham Brown, “40 acres of land and a mule”, in a historic decision that could affect thousands of African Americans.

The 61-year old man filed a lawsuit against the federal government in 2011, accusing the United States of violating their obligations to his ancestor, who died in 1891.

His great-grandfather, Elijah Brown, along with 18,000 other freed slaves who had fought for the Union in the American Civil War, had been promised “40 acres of land and a mule” by the U.S. army in 1865, but never received anything.

By a narrow 5-4 vote, the Supreme court ruled that the U.S. government had to hold the promises made to these 18,000 freed slaves, by granting the promised acreage and animals to their descendants.

“This is the best day of my life,” Mr. Brown told reporters as he left the courtroom. “Justice has finally been done, after all these years. My great-grandfather can finally rest in peace!”


Mr. Brown and his supporters were visibly happy when the court announced the verdict, applauding and cheering loudly as the court announced its decision.

The Supreme court decision is based on military orders issued during the American Civil War.

The orders dealing specifically with the freed slaves are called Special Field Orders, No. 15, and were issued by General William Tecumseh Sherman, commander of the Military Division of the Mississippi of the United States Army, on January 16, 1865.

They provided for the confiscation of 400,000 acres (1,600 km2) of land along the Atlantic coast of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida and the dividing of it into parcels of not more than 40 acres (0.16 km2), on which were to be settled approximately 18,000 freed slave families and other Blacks then living in the area.

For the duration of the civil war, military officers had both special executive and legislative powers, and therefore, the Supreme Court judged that  General Sherman’s field orders have the same legal status as laws issued by the Congress, and have to be respected by the American government.


NAACP national field director, Rev. Charles White, called the ruling a “historic step towards justice”.

The decision of the Supreme court could have some major consequences, as it implies that the descendants of the 18,000 other free slave families covered by the 1865 field order.

The NAACP, who supported M. Brown throughout all the court procedures, saluted the decision of the Supreme Court.

“Finally, the American government has decided the hold the promises it made long ago to the African American people,” said Reverend Charles White. “This is far from compensating for all the wrongs that have been done to us, but it’s certainly a step in the  right direction.”

The NAACP leader also called for a class action lawsuit, noting that more than 120,000 Americans are direct descendants of these slaves.

16 Comments on "Supreme Court grants black man “40 acres of land and a mule”"

  1. Where can I get a list of names to research?

  2. How can I find out if my descedants were one of the slaves promised 40 acres snd a mule?

    • start by researching the civil war records of the military in the area and find out if one of your relatives was listed as an enlisted man/woman having served

    • The word you are looking for is ancestors. You are a descendent and your children will be descendent of you.

  3. Who voted against?

  4. They should pay this debt with interest. Hopefully the bill of goods will not be in an area where the land is not fit to live upon.

    • HONEYBADGERESS | January 12, 2016 at 12:58 am |

      Interest is USURY, not a Christian concept. Vengeance was executed a long time ago. This is the ONLY country in the world which- not only fought a Civil War with this issue in mind- but, after freeing the people who were sold by their brethren into Arab slavetraders hands, then to Jewish merchants,…ALSO AFFORDED THEM SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER-CITIZENSHIP-WITH-EQUAL-RIGHTS-UNDER-THE-LAW. African who were sold into slavery were treated BETTER, and sold for much much more on the auction block than did the Irish people who were sold as slaves- where’s THEIR 40 acres an,d a mule? Who died to free them?!?

    • But, this is NOT a Christian nation. No where in the d.o.I., constitution, or amendments does it say that the laws of this land have to be Christian-based. Interest is ucc based, and everyone follows the acc.
      Far as the Irish go, they already have land, it’s called IRELAND. If they want more, that’s their problem. We want what WAS PROMISED…

  5. Will i be able to receive that too


    • Michael Stone | December 17, 2015 at 2:44 pm |

      Yes, if your family was a part of the 18,000 Soldiers.

    • Alsusia Collins | March 31, 2016 at 7:16 am |

      What if there’s a possibility that someone is a direct descendant of the Browns but dosen’t know it, or what of other black people who are descendant’s of blacks from that era;how do someone follow up on receiving their due?

    • Andrew Montgomery | December 17, 2016 at 3:48 pm |

      What if people already live in that area? What if the 18,000 slaves have a million defendants that all claim they should have land and there is more people than there is land to be given how would the government decide what to do with the limited land? How many people from one family could get land because if the government gave the slaves the land back then only one descendent of the original freed slave would get the 40 acres or each descendent would get only part of the land?

    • Andrew Montgomery | December 17, 2016 at 3:51 pm |

      Also only one person from the family should get a mule because if you know anything from breeding if the government gave a mule at the time of the promise then no descendent would get a mule.

    • Did your ancestor who had to have been a slave, join the Union Army?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.