African Americans also had to sign a contract with the sharecropper which made the African American farmers work until they had paid off the debt for the land and also the farming equipment which they used to process the crops as well. This really wasn’t the best help for them in their quest for economic freedom and freedom in general but was at least a starting point for the African Americans.
This situation was not ideal because the Southern farmers wanted more control over their workers (orange). Virginian farmers heard about the success of slavery in the Caribbean and thought it would be a good solution to their problems (blue). The southern colonists had a very different way of earning a living than in the north. They needed people to work through “the harsh realities of a land-rich, but labor-scarce economy…” (Purple). The plantation owners had all the land and resources, but no one to work on their grounds long term.
Sharecropping was a response to economic depression caused by the end of slavery. Many poor white and black farmers earned a living working the land owned by someone else. The first sharecroppers were the former black slaves. The system continued to enslave the freemen to a certain degree because of the control the landowners possessed. The laws benefited the owners and not the croppers.
However, the landowners still complained about a "labor shortage." The sharecropping system emerged as the dominant labor system in the South. The sharecropping system was a system of agricultural in which a landowner would allow a tenant to use their land. African Americans started to rent individual plots to do their own work. The share cropping system placed a premium on utilizing the labor of all the family members in the family.
A large population of people had just become free but the real matter at hand centered on survival. Since they were not yet legal citizens, the freed slaves still had to rely heavily on those around them and such solution to their economic plight was sharecropping. At first, this concept would have been beneficial to freed slaves and their quest for freedom but it quickly became an obstacle. From the textbook The Enduring Vision, sharecropping is “the most widespread arrangement, evolved as a compromise. Under the sharecropping system, landowners’ subdivided large plantations into farms of thirty to fifty acres, which they rented to freedmen….Freedmen preferred sharecropping to wage labor because it represented a step toward independence…Planters often spoke of sharecropping as a concession, but they benefitted, too.
Capitalism started as evil was spreading in the South and soon made its way to the New England and Middle colonies. This lifestyle didn’t work as most of the people were of the gentry class, and were sybarites, wanting people to do the work for them. There were first indentured servants to do the jobs, but they wouldn’t stay forever to work on the farms and plantations. The indentured servants would only stay until they had payed of what they owed when the upper class paid for their trip to America. Mostly farmers and plantation owners wanted slaves because they would be people who would work for them until their death.
Slaves were also given “equal protection” and education, right to vote, legalize their marriages, and could hold a position in a political office. However, it was still difficult for slaves to find a place in society because they were not given an alternative way to earn a living. They had to start of fresh with no homes or no money. The only jobs they could get were sharecropping and tenant farming. In both, slaves would have to work out in the fields and give the crops back to their owners, so they were basically tied back to
Slaves were required to work in various places for little or no money. Therefore, this helped the slave owners achieve their goal of increasing their profits because they did not have to pay for labor costs. With lower labor costs, the Southerners had more disposable income. This extra money allowed them to pay their taxes, to buy more land, and to even possibly purchase more slaves. The Northerners were extremely aggravated with the Southerners’ position on slavery.
In terms of the work and their way of life in the colonies however, slaves and indentured servants while still under contract had a few similarities. At first due to the fact that they were cheaper, colonists chose to use indentured servants. After Bacon’s rebellion when slaves and servants up rose against their masters and failed, racism increased in the colonies, and servitude of slaves was made permanent. Slaves became the preferred form of labor. Before taking on their different roles however, slaves and indentured servants had to survive the voyage to the colonies.
After the devastation left from the Civil War, many field owners looked for new ways to replace their former slaves with field hands for farming and production use. From this need for new field hands came sharecroppers, a “response to the destitution and disorganized” agricultural results of the Civil War (Wilson 29). Sharecropping is the working of a piece of land by a tenant in exchange for a portion of the crops that they bring in for their landowners. These farmhands provided their labor, while the landowners provided living accommodations for the worker and his family, along with tools, seeds, fertilizers, and a portion of the crops that they had harvested that season. A sharecropper had “no entitlement to the land that he cultivated,” and was forced “to work under any conditions” that his landowner enforced (Wilson 798).