40 Acres and A Mule

Abby Zimet

Texas GOP Rep. Louie "Terror Babies" Gohmert has a swell idea for
those millions of people in need of welfare, food stamps and other
government help. He suggests
a modern-day 40 acres and a mule: give people a piece of land, and let
them work it, just like they did with newly freed slaves, except they
took it back after a year, and some relocation is required, given that
the land's in the west and people are mostly in the east, but still.
Yeah, let's elect more Republicans. They're such deep thinkers.

Gohmert on the floor of the House: "We have people on welfare and I know
there's some that just don't
wanna work, but there's some that do. 
How 'bout if instead of the welfare, we give 'em an alternative. 
We'll give you so many acres that can
provide land where you can live off of it, make a living and we'll give
seed money to start, but you have to sign an agreement that you'll never accept
again.  How 'bout that?  We got plenty of


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After the Civil War, news of the awarding to freed blacks of 40 acres
and a mule - 40 acres to
farm, and a mule to drag the plow - spread quickly. From the original order: "Whenever three respectable negroes, heads of families, shall
desire to settle on land, and shall have selected for that purpose an
island or a locality clearly defined, within the limits above
designated, the Inspector of Settlements and Plantations will himself,
or by such subordinate officer as he may appoint, give them a license to
settle such island or district, and afford them such assistance as he
can to enable them to establish a peaceable agricultural settlement." 

Former slaves
welcomed the Reconstruction plan as proof that emancipation would finally give them a stake
in the land they had worked as slaves for so long. By June of
1865, around 40,000 freed slaves were settled on 400,000 acres in Georgia and South Carolina. But the order was in effect for only one year. Soon after, President Johnson
reversed it and returned the land to its white former owners.

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