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An Ex-Slave Protests Eviction from 'the Promised Land' (short)

In the last months of the Civil War, General William T. Sherman of the Union Army issued Special Field Order Number 15, which set aside more than 400,000 acres of abandoned coastal plantations from South Carolina to Florida for settlement exclusively by ex-slaves. In May of 1865, President Andrew Johnson offered an amnesty plan to former Confederates. The plan allowed them to reclaim their land if it had been redistributed to freed slaves or others. In this 1866 speech, Bayley Wyat protests the eviction of former slaves from confiscated plantations in Virginia.

We has a right to the land here we are located. For why? I tell you. Our wives, our children, our husbands, have been sold over and over again to purchase the lands we now locate upon; for that reason we have a divine right to the land. . . . And then didn't we clear the land and raise the crops of corn, of cotton, of tobacco, of rice, of sugar, of everything? And then didn't large cities in the North grow up on the cotton and the sugars and the rice that we made! . . . I say they have grown rich, and my people are poor.

Source | Bayley Wyat, A Freedman's speech. Philadelphia: Published by Friends' association of Philadelphia and its vicinity for the relief of colored freedmen, circa 1866, Library of Congress,
Creator | Bayley Wyat
Item Type | Speech
Cite This document | Bayley Wyat, “An Ex-Slave Protests Eviction from 'the Promised Land' (short),” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed May 16, 2021,

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