Being the great-great-grandson of the owner of a plantation in Knoxville, Tennessee, at the end of the Civil War, I was Interested in the proposed reparations for the descendants of Africans trafficked to and enslaved in the Americas as a consequence of the Atlantic slave trade.
This proposal is offered by the following democratic candidates: Marianne Williamson, Senators Warren, Booker, Gabbard, Sanders, Harris and Beto O’Rourke is “open to considering some form of reparations,” according to U.S. News & World Report.
What I have been able to find out is that reparations has been discussed for a number of years, but have never been acted upon. They can be contrasted with compensated emancipation, the money that some governments paid some slave owners when slavery was abolished, as compensation for the loss of their property. I am not for sure if my great-great-grandfather received any form of payment.
Family history indicates that freed slaves returned and worked out a deal to remain on the plantation as freemen and received payment in kind for their labor.
I have always been told that freed slaves were given 40 acres and a mule when they were freed after the Civil War by an order issued by Union General William T. Sherman’s Special Field Order No. 15, issued on Jan. 16, 1865. I have learned of a meeting to discuss this form of reparations. One of the spokesman for the group, Garrison Frazier, stated “that the best way to take care of ourselves was to have land, and turn it and till it by our own labor… and we can soon maintain ourselves and have something to spare. … We want to be placed on land until we are able to buy it and make it our own.” However, Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s successor, overturned the order in the fall of 1865.
I believe that reparations do not apply to our day and time and should have been given to the freed slaves at the end of the Civil War.