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.

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

  1. Rennie Phillips | May 28, 2018 at 7:32 pm | Reply

    GIVE ME MY LAND! I don’t want money, I want land.

  2. Sherman killed more than slaves than that on his March through the south burning down town raping woman and killing all the men and children and slaves. They should receive the monetary value of forty acres and a mule which at the time came out to about 400 bucks.

  3. M Thomas Jackson | May 28, 2018 at 10:58 am | Reply

    Lets see if the Government will actually release this land and a mule, or find some reason to repeal or delay on the order. Also, curious as to who the nay sayers of the Supreme court were.

    • You can’t give away land already owned and since it’s ILLEGAL for the government to own land where do you think they are gonna get that land? They should all receive to monetary value of forty acres and a mule which in 1865 was about 400 bucks that’s all they are entitled to.

  4. Some American owned slaves. I belive their tax free money

  5. Luvenia Jones Heflin | May 28, 2018 at 8:49 am | Reply

    How do I check my family status regarding this law ?

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