This question What are the primary source records which document the reasons for President Andrew Johnson's voiding of Sherman’s Special Field Order No. 15? asks

What are the primary source records which document both the official action and the reasons for President Andrew Johnson's decision to overturn, revoke or void Sherman's Special Field Order No. 15?

The question has been placed on hold for, according to at least 3 users

The primary purpose of this question appears to be to promote or discredit a specific political cause, group or politician. It does not appear to be a good-faith effort to learn more about governments, policies and political processes as defined in the help center." – Laetus, bytebuster, Martin Schröder

It is not at all clear how the users who voted to close the question under the guise of The primary purpose of this question appears to be to promote or discredit a specific political cause, group or politician reached that conclusion.

Kindly answer this question by explaining exactly how the original question on its face has a the primary purpose of promote or discredit a specific political cause, group or politician, as cannot fathom any rational correlation between the language of the question and promoting or discrediting any political cause or politician.

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    The community re-opened the question. – yannis Sep 2 '18 at 18:47
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    A theory, (possibly satirical but it's hard to say for sure): Maybe the question was guilty of promoting the cause of truth, which usually tends to discredit various other causes, groups and pols. Perhaps some users believe learning about real governments is such a Machiavellian study, that it's a separate thing from mere truth. – agc Sep 2 '18 at 22:05
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    If I were to venture a guess... they didn't like your previous questions, so it was a kind of halo effect. It's interesting that this meta-question also has 4 downvotes, but no explanation from those who probably downvoted. And if I may suggest: posting the whole Sherman's order wasn't too useful. Some people here downvote TLDR questions, on principle (I think it was a mod who said that.) – Fizz Sep 3 '18 at 6:45
  • @Fizz Interesting that you mention posting the whole Sherman's Order as not being useful. From a historical perspective it is very useful, to actually read the source of "40 acres and a mule", that a large population of people actually "occupied" that land until "legalese" stripped the land away from them which appears to have possibly been at least part of the plan from the start after using the people strategically. A similar issue occurred when transcribed and posted a substantial part of Julius Malema's response to President Trump's "tweet", where a user said it was not genuine to do so. – guest271314 Sep 3 '18 at 15:30

At this moment, I have neither voted to close nor downvoted the question. That said, the question has several problems.

Reasons to close:

  1. This is pure history. This does not ask about politics but about historical documents.
  2. The question itself has a definite slant. Basically it spends most of the question telling us things. It's only at the very end that we get the actual question.
  3. The only relation to politics that is possible is if it is arguing that people should take some action (a political cause) now.

Why does it look like bad faith?

  1. It is too long for the question it claims to ask. In fact, both quotations could be left out without reducing readability (such an edit would actually help promote readability, as the quotes aren't needed for the question).
  2. It is slanted, not neutral language. The question assumes that the original order was valid and that Johnson actively negated it. But as the current answer shows, that is not true. The original order was invalid and Johnson failed to make it valid retroactively.
  3. It is posted on the wrong stack. If in good faith, it's a purely historical question without a political nexus.

Which of course is just a restatement of the reasons to close.

Now, one could argue that this is politics because it is about government actions. However, the relation to government action is tenuous. What it is really asking is for historical documentation. It's not asking for political analysis; at best, it's engaging in political analysis.

To restate the question: treatment of the 40 acres and a mule order really sucked for black people, am I right? And that formulation has always been off-topic. It's specifically mentioned at Don't Ask.

Do we want to encourage questions that promote a political view for 80% of the question and then spend the last 20% asking an actual question? Consider:

What documentation is available showing that Boston College does not properly educate its students, particularly minorities?

As we all know, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shows clear signs of lacking education:

  1. She asserted that the unemployment rate was low because of people working more than one job. However, the employment rate only counts each person once, regardless of the number of jobs they have.
  2. She asserted that funeral cost savings would significantly offset Medicare for All costs. Obviously, absent discovery of immortality, every person currently alive will die, so that is absurd on its face. Not to mention that the actual evidence from Obamacare is that more people died, i.e. mortality rates increased and average age of death decreased.
  3. She asserts that "free" education, meaning taxpayer financed, will allow more poor people to go to college. Yet she herself, while allegedly poor, attended Boston College, which theoretically costs about $280,000 for four years.

What other evidence exists that Boston College is failing to give its students, particular its minority students, a proper education?

Is that a valid question? On its face, it's more topical. It touches on current public policy issues relating to a current politician. So it's not off-topic as just being history. The preamble is also more closely related to its eventual question.


  1. It's also a call for resources.
  2. It spends a lot of time linking to factual information.
  3. It doesn't have a neutral point of view.

Could we rewrite that question to be on-topic? Sure. Consider:

How to evaluate the quality of education for financial aid students at a specific university or universities in general?

I am interested in evaluating universities in terms of the education that they provide to students receiving financial aid (not being charged full tuition and other costs). I am particularly concerned about minority education. I am personally interested in an evaluation of Boston College, but I will happily accept more general answers.

What resources are available to evaluate the quality of education at a university? In particular, for

  1. Students who pay reduced tuition due to financial aid.
  2. Students who are members of ethnic minorities, particularly Hispanic students.

That question should get the same kind of real information while getting fewer answers in the following patterns:

  1. You suck, Ocasio-Cortez rocks!
  2. You rock, Ocasio-Cortez sucks!
  3. You're right, Ocasio-Cortez sucks!

So are we saying that that the first form of the question is on-topic? Or is my proposed question off-topic, even though it has a stronger political nexus, because it criticizes a modern liberal rather than promote a minority agenda (increased knowledge of the 40 acres and a mule order)? Does the more objective question wash away the partisanship of the rest of the body?

One might ask if the current question could be made more neutral. Of course. Consider:

What resources show Johnson's reasoning in not supporting Sherman's 40 acres and a mule order?

William T. Sherman's Special Field Order No. 15, historically known as the "40 acres and a mule" ("promise") was issued on January 16, 1865; see also the The Truth Behind '40 Acres and a Mule' by Henry Louis Gates Jr., Sherman's Field Order No. 15, LCV Cities Tour - Savannah: Sherman's Special Field Order #15 - 40 Acres and a Mule, and Passage of Sherman's Special Orders No. 15.

According to the linked resources President Andrew Johnson either "overturned", performed a "revocation", or "voided" the Order, though it is not clear by what official means President Johnson made the Order null and void, nor which official document can be referenced to to verify the nullification of the order.

What are the primary source records which document both the official action and the reasons for President Andrew Johnson's decision to overturn, revoke or void Sherman's Special Field Order No. 15?

But that still leaves the problem of no political nexus. Without the slanted text, we are left with a purely historical question with no need for political analysis. It's only the bias in the original question that makes it look political. This is not to say that there is no way to ask a political question about a historical event. It's just to say that this isn't the way.

Contrast with "What were the political factors that led to Johnson not incorporating Sherman's 40 acres and a mule promise?" Or "Why weren't the freed slaves given reparations?" The first is clearly on-topic, and the second could be worded neutrally enough to be on-topic. Because they involve political analysis of a historical situation. They also might be on-topic on History.SE, but they could be written so as to be on-topic here.

Another possibility would be "Was Sherman's 40 acres and a mule order legal?" The original question just sort of assumes it was, while the current answer suggests that it wasn't. However, that might better fit on Law.SE than either Politics.SE or History.SE. The argument that it would be on-topic here would be that it involves a government actor (General Sherman). However, Sherman was not part of the political portion of the government. He was a military bureaucrat (or officer).

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    This is pretty much every thought I had but didn't want to put the time into writing out. And the OP's comments here suggest this is some sort of contrived angle to subtly get at their favorite conspiracy topic: " A similar issue occurred when transcribed and posted a substantial part of Julius Malema's response to President Trump's "tweet", where a user said it was not genuine to do so. " Although the wording on that is confusing enough that I don't know if they're trying to connect it to the whole Sherman thing, or closures on Politics.SE, or what. – zibadawa timmy Sep 4 '18 at 6:41
  • The political nexus is evident in the original question and your answer and is still relevant politically today. A live controversy involving the U.S. and a substantial portion of the U.S. population has existed since the Order was signed creating a liberty interest for people who traveled to and possessed their land, before being removed from their land. It is unlikely that live political controversy will ever be politically resolved by a remedy provided for at least one of the parties. No arguments are made at the question. All political sides full quotes is equally included at questions. – guest271314 Sep 5 '18 at 3:12

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