Jun. 15, 2021

Why Are Asked To Celebrate General Field Order 3? Yet Ignore Special Field Order 15

Let’s start talking about the final Civil War Field Orders related to the enslaved freedmen in the Spring and Summer of 1865. Which one was more substantial and likely to impact the black communities for future generations. Which one had the least bang in terms of creating a real chance for those recently enslaved to build true economic power after being held in bondage for 246 years due to the vile system of institutional slavery. Also, why is the Field Order with the least economic impact for our black ancestors celebrated by our black communities today while the Field Order with the most potential to drive the economic engine of those ancestral black communities not celebrated. Also, why isn’t that Field Order that added economic subsistence not even remembered as little more than a logo and a teeshirt. While, the Field Order that truly has no historical merit place on the pinnacle of celebrations. Many in our community are even demanding that the Field Order that created this non-holiday, holiday be given the status of national appeal. If you don’t understand what I am talking about I ask that you do some research on the subject which compares the strength and magnitude of both of these Civil War Field Orders. Let me give you just a little background information this morning. Special Field Order # 15 was issued during the waning days of the Civil War by General William T. Sherman, in it our formerly enslaved ancestors would receive 40 acres of confiscated federal property, the property formerly owned by the southern confederate planters, land that had be used to build wealth of the Confederacy with the free labor of our black American ancestors. This field order had the support of the then current President Abraham Lincoln, as well as the Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. Which meant that the full weight of the American Government intended to provide each freedman 40 acres to till and farm and build some financial independence. It was the Field Order that Martin Luther King Jr. indicated in his I Have A Dream speech related to getting full payment for an insufficient check due the Black Americans in 1963. It was the Field Order that had substance and truly could have driven the black economy of those who had been enslaved for 246 years.

Enter John Wilkes Booth and Andrew Johnson. When Booth murdered Lincoln at the Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865 and Andrew Johnson assumed the Presidency, the current President was looking for ways to not provide security for the formerly enslaved Black Americans. Johnson was looking for ways to ensure that the former powerful southern elitist confederate planters could regain the land confiscated from them during the Civil War. Why on June 19, 1865, did General Gordon Granger who delivered General Field Order Number 3 to the formerly enslaved Black Americans residing in Galveston, Texas and throughout the Texas fail to mention any such land opportunity that Sherman issued with Presidential authority on January 16, 1865? All that was written was that in accordance with the proclamation from the executive of the United States, all slaves were free. What happened to the Lincoln edict that all slaves were free and entitled to 40 acres of land. Where did the Field Order Number 15 disappear too? Did Andrew Johnson give General Gordon Granger explicit orders only to mention the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans? We know that Johnson would eventually return all the confiscated land he could back to the white elites. We also know that it was Congress, not Johnson who would force the issue of Black Reconstruction. Why do we celebrate a date that was chosen not to empower our black ancestors but to put them back in their place of economic distress. As Ida Belle Wells stated the formerly enslaved Black Americans didn’t get a penny or an inch of land from the United States Government. Our should’ve gotten 40 acres of land. The Field Order or General Order 3 should’ve mention not only emancipation rights but also land rights. But it was simply another paper tiger with no substance. Why do we celebrate a lie? Emancipation without the right to get what the formerly enslaved people earned through 246 years of free labor. Juneteenth, is a guise to keep us off track and it probably emanated in the Johnson White House to ensure that those 40 acres would disappear, and be historically forgotten. Do the history behind Field Order 15 and General Order 3 and you will agree with June 19th is no day to celebrate. Why? Because that is the day that the sufficient check that Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about became insufficient.