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Old 09-26-2012, 02:15 PM   Topic Starter
La literatura La literatura is offline
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History Trivia Question: 40 acres and a mule

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?
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Old 09-26-2012, 02:25 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Literature View Post
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.
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Last edited by Baby Lee; 09-26-2012 at 02:39 PM..
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Old 09-26-2012, 02:34 PM   #3
Aries Walker Aries Walker is online now
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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.
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Old 09-26-2012, 03:13 PM   #4
Amnorix Amnorix is offline
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Would have come from former slave owners, if I understand your question correctly. Never got far.
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Old 09-26-2012, 03:16 PM   #5
Aries Walker Aries Walker is online now
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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.
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Old 09-26-2012, 03:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aries Walker View Post
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.
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Old 09-26-2012, 03:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baby Lee View Post
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.
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Old 09-26-2012, 03:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Literature View Post
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.
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Old 09-26-2012, 05:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baby Lee View Post
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?
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Old 09-26-2012, 06:35 PM   #10
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Wouldn't they then get 3/5 of an acre?
As it turns out, they each got a nice, round 0/5.
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Old 09-26-2012, 06:54 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aries Walker View Post
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.
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Old 09-26-2012, 03:29 PM   #12
La literatura La literatura is offline
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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?
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Old 09-26-2012, 03:42 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Literature View Post
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?
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Old 09-26-2012, 03:57 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by JonesCrusher View Post
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.
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Old 09-26-2012, 03:38 PM   #15
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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.
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