PDA

View Full Version : Education History Trivia Question: 40 acres and a mule


La literatura
09-26-2012, 03:15 PM
You might remember from your history classes about the radical Republican idea to provide former slaves with "40 acres and a mule."

My question to you all: where did they come up with the 40 acres?

Baby Lee
09-26-2012, 03:25 PM
You might remember from your history classes about the radical Republican idea to provide former slaves with "40 acres and a mule."

My question to you all: where did they come up with the 40 acres?

Hint: The metric system wasn't much used, and was barely introduced, in America at the time.

EDIT: Think Sections, Divisions, Subdivisions, and Homesteads.

Aries Walker
09-26-2012, 03:34 PM
There was no complex mathematical formula involved; Sherman wanted to placate the black people he was freeing with the promise of a bunch of land all their own, so he made the number up. It's really about that simple.

Amnorix
09-26-2012, 04:13 PM
Would have come from former slave owners, if I understand your question correctly. Never got far.

Aries Walker
09-26-2012, 04:16 PM
Oh, I was reading it as "where did they get the number 40".

The idea was that Sherman, during his March to the Sea, would seize white slave-owners' lands (plantations, basically) and give them to the black people. It didn't last; as soon as Johnson took over, he cancelled the whole deal, and gave the land back to the whites it was taken from.

Baby Lee
09-26-2012, 04:19 PM
Oh, I was reading it as "where did they get the number 40".

That's what I thought the question was. If it's as Amno is stating, yeah, it was a swath of abandoned, but still titled, land in the SE US.

The mules weren't part of the proclamation, Sherman just had a bunch of mules left over from the campaign that he let applicants pick from to run their farming operations.

If it's as I original understood it, 40 acres is 1/4 mile x 1/4 mile. Original surveyors designated Sections as 1x1 mi., then divided 1/2x1/2 and subdivided into 16 40 acre plots in a square mile.

The cynic in me is half expecting Jenson to bring in some theory that 40 acres was 1/4 of a Homestead, like N***ers were 1/4 of a citizen.

La literatura
09-26-2012, 04:29 PM
I'm thinking, 'Where did they come up with the number 40,' not, from whom do they take the land from.

Why 40, and not 30 or 50?

La literatura
09-26-2012, 04:36 PM
If it's as I original understood it, 40 acres is 1/4 mile x 1/4 mile. Original surveyors designated Sections as 1x1 mi., then divided 1/2x1/2 and subdivided into 16 40 acre plots in a square mile.

You sound like a lawyer trained west of the Alleghenies. It wouldn't surprise me if Amnorix had never known that because there was no large scale, uniformed surveying in the original colonies, whose counties form around waters.

La literatura
09-26-2012, 04:38 PM
There is no book that I can find about this huge project of surveying the entire country west of the Allegheny Mtns, and there should be one. I guess I'll have to do it.

Pawnmower
09-26-2012, 04:38 PM
I think standard block of land (i forgot the name) was like 160 acres or 320...way back in the day....My dad had a 40 acre block and some of my other relatives had 160 / 80 acre blocks...

So my answer is that 40 is 25% of 160, and a common small piece back in the dizzle.

ChiefsCountry
09-26-2012, 04:39 PM
Its 1/16 of a section of land, which 640 acres.

Baby Lee
09-26-2012, 04:40 PM
You sound like a lawyer trained west of the Alleghenies. It wouldn't surprise me if Amnorix had never known that because there was no large scale, uniformed surveying in the original colonies, whose counties form around waters.

Heh, more like growing up in KC, where the numbered streets are in 1/10s of miles. Most suburban blocks are 1/10 x 2/10 [learned that when I got a 10 speed with a speedometer on it]. Then it occured to me things like 195th street is just shy of 20 miles [ie, 19.5] from downtown.

JonesCrusher
09-26-2012, 04:42 PM
I'm thinking, 'Where did they come up with the number 40,' not, from whom do they take the land from.

Why 40, and not 30 or 50?

Is starting a thread the first thought that comes to mind when you have a random question?

Amnorix
09-26-2012, 04:44 PM
Ah, why 40? Yeah, no clue. West of Mississippi land stuff -- also no clue.

La literatura
09-26-2012, 04:48 PM
I think standard block of land (i forgot the name) was like 160 acres or 320...way back in the day....My dad had a 40 acre block and some of my other relatives had 160 / 80 acre blocks...

So my answer is that 40 is 25% of 160, and a common small piece back in the dizzle.

Its 1/16 of a section of land, which 640 acres.

Yeah, you guys know your stuff. 640 acres is a square mile, and that's how the entire frontier was basically chalked off. And within that square mile, you divided into quarters, which could again be. and commonly was, divided into quarters.

And every title abstract and legal description of land that's not platted in a city (and maybe some that is), starts off being called something like "The NW1/4 of the SE1/4 of [that particularly labeled square mile (e.g., Sec. 12 of Township 13 of Range 14)

Pawnmower
09-26-2012, 04:49 PM
There is no book that I can find about this huge project of surveying the entire country west of the Allegheny Mtns, and there should be one. I guess I'll have to do it.

I have access to a vast collection of maps.....some very old. Mainly california though...but quite a few scattered random older maps.

Pawnmower
09-26-2012, 04:51 PM
If you want i can see what the oldest map I have of that area is

La literatura
09-26-2012, 04:56 PM
Okay, here is a book for all those interested in this enormously influential project: http://www.amazon.com/Measuring-America-United-Greatest-History/dp/0452284597/ref=pd_sim_b_1

La literatura
09-26-2012, 04:57 PM
Is starting a thread the first thought that comes to mind when you have a random question?

No, I've had this in my mind for a couple of days now.

Baby Lee
09-26-2012, 05:02 PM
I have access to a vast collection of maps.....some very old. Mainly california though...but quite a few scattered random older maps.

Pictured you as Ron Burgandy as I read that.

qabbaan
09-26-2012, 06:26 PM
That's what I thought the question was. If it's as Amno is stating, yeah, it was a swath of abandoned, but still titled, land in the SE US.

The mules weren't part of the proclamation, Sherman just had a bunch of mules left over from the campaign that he let applicants pick from to run their farming operations.

If it's as I original understood it, 40 acres is 1/4 mile x 1/4 mile. Original surveyors designated Sections as 1x1 mi., then divided 1/2x1/2 and subdivided into 16 40 acre plots in a square mile.

The cynic in me is half expecting Jenson to bring in some theory that 40 acres was 1/4 of a Homestead, like N***ers were 1/4 of a citizen.

Wouldn't they then get 3/5 of an acre?

Saul Good
09-26-2012, 07:20 PM
Yeah, you guys know your stuff. 640 acres is a square mile, and that's how the entire frontier was basically chalked off. And within that square mile, you divided into quarters, which could again be. and commonly was, divided into quarters.

And every title abstract and legal description of land that's not platted in a city (and maybe some that is), starts off being called something like "The NW1/4 of the SE1/4 of [that particularly labeled square mile (e.g., Sec. 12 of Township 13 of Range 14)

Is that where terms like "the back 40" came from when referencing a seemingly randomly sized large patch of land?

Aries Walker
09-26-2012, 07:35 PM
Wouldn't they then get 3/5 of an acre?
As it turns out, they each got a nice, round 0/5.

Baby Lee
09-26-2012, 07:52 PM
Is that where terms like "the back 40" came from when referencing a seemingly randomly sized large patch of land?

Back 40 comes from Homesteads, which are 160 acres total.

Front 40 was where the house/barn was, and was closest to thoroughfares.

Middle 80 were where crops were cultivated

Back 40 was usually left to nature, often the most problematic from a cultivation standpoint, where the stands of trees, creeks and wild animal habitats were.

J Diddy
09-26-2012, 07:54 PM
As it turns out, they each got a nice, round 0/5.

I know it doesn't sound like much, but they sure add up.

Chiefshrink
09-26-2012, 11:22 PM
Biblical

Aries Walker
09-27-2012, 02:57 AM
C'mon, man. Don't just drop the one-word answer. What is Biblical? The 40 acres, or the mule?

Seraphim
09-27-2012, 02:18 PM
Gone with the Wind.

vailpass
09-27-2012, 04:02 PM
It's the total square footage of 20 basketball courts divided by the surface area of a pack of Kools.

FishingRod
09-27-2012, 04:42 PM
It's the total square footage of 20 basketball courts divided by the surface area of a pack of Kools.

That is just so wrong,

very funny, but wrong

ForeverChiefs58
09-27-2012, 04:49 PM
The mule that is referred means he wanted the slaves to each take a libral with them.