Sharecropping is a system of farming in which employee farmers work a parcel of land in return for a fraction of the parcel's crops. The system came into use in the United States during the Reconstruction era (1865-) that followed the Civil War. It is used in many rural poor areas today, notably in India.
Sharecropping developed as a response to economic upheaval caused by the emancipation of African-Americanslaves in the agriculturalSouth. White-owned plantations had relied on slave labor and were unable to function without it. Similarly, slaves relied on plantation owners for food and shelter. Following emancipation, sharecropping came to be an economic arrangement that largely maintained the status quo. Sharecroppers worked a section of the plantation independently and received a very small percent of the parcel's output. Though the arrangement protected sharecroppers from the negative effects of a bad crop, many sharecroppers were confined to slave-like conditions of poverty. To work the land, sharecroppers must buy seed and implements, typically from the plantation owner who may charge exorbitant prices against the sharecropper's next season. Arrangements also typically gave half or less of the crop to the sharecropper. These factors made sharecroppers dependent on the plantation owners in a way similar to slavery.
Many sharecroppers, white and fl, could not read; of those who could, many would not have been able to afford even the ten-cent cost of a copy (most sharecroppers did their "spending" on credit at stores that were owned by their landlords and that rarely, if ever, sold any of IPs titles).
By the late 1930s, the sharecropper was established in the national imagination as a contested figure of racial hybridity, class tension, and regional conflict, a figure whose homely appeals to Americas ideal of the family homestead competed with his stark display of Americas history of racial oppression and class conflict.
In "Sharecropper," this rhetoric finds expression in the "well-armed riff-raff in the pack," who assault the hero, and in the "brushwood" that must be cleared away for the unions "white oak" and "fl-oak" to prosper.
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