In South Africa, Land Apartheid Lives On

Wine farm in Cape Town, South Africa

Friday marks the 150th anniversary of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s famous field order to confiscate 400,000 acres of land from former slave-owners and distribute it to former slaves — the promise of 40 acres and mule that we so often hear about.

In the wake of the Civil War, the United States could have provided a solid foundation for black economic development. But the government failed to follow through with General Sherman’s ambitious land reform initiative; instead his order was repealed by President Andrew Johnson in the fall of 1865 and former slaves were drawn into various forms of peonage, which kept them in economic bondage.

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