The Hidden and Forbidden Truth Revealed “40 Acres and a Gullah/Geechee Corridor”

Gen. Sherman’s famous “March to the Sea” in 1864 resulted in Special Field Order No. 15 issued on Jan. 16th, 1865 which confiscated Confererate land from Charleston, SC to the St. Johns River in Northern Florida, extending from the Atlantic Ocean 30 miles inland. This 400,000 acre tract of land was divided into 40- acre parcels. It was created to give 18,000 formerly enslaved families, lands of their own to settle on. So, the fabled 40 Acres story was true. In 2006, a Democratic Congress passed the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Act designating the same land with slight geographical variations: North from Wilmington, NC and South to Jacksonville, Florida to be funded with 10 million dollars for Cultural Preservation and Tourism. This was the original 40 Acres. But President Lincoln’s first gesture of reparations was doomed by an assassin’s bullet on April 15th, 1865 five days after the Civil War ended. The new President, Andrew Johnson, a Southerner, over the summer of 1865 would pardon the ex- Confederate Plantation owners and reverse the order confiscating their land.

However by then at least 10,000 formerly enslaved Blacks had already taken possession of what they believed would be their 40 Acres. Sadly it was not to be. Gen. Oliver Howard, Director of the Freedmen’s Bureau, and the Abolitionist for whom, Howard University was named, was given the unenviable task in October of 1865, of informing those Black Land Owners that they had to return the land. This meeting took place on Edisto Island, SC in front of 2,000 interested parties, who were told they could stay on as sharecroppers. These facts should no longer be hidden and forbidden that the land currently called the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor is the same tract of land that was given and taken back. It now has been designated as one of 49 tracts of land under the Cultural Heritage Act. It is the only tract in America dedicated to Black Culture. It represents a tragic land loss and the country, especially AfricanAmericans need to know the truth.

(Pompey) Phil Wilkes Fixico, Seminole Maroon Descendant, Participant: National Parks Service/Underground Rail Road Conference,2012, St. Augustine, Florida, Signer/Writer, of the: “Treaty of St. Augustine