Sharecroppers: Reconstruction Era of the United States and Field Hands

1328 Words Apr 16th, 2001 6 Pages
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 …show more content…
Even having sufficient clothing at all was a struggle for the family. The clothing that they did have was "coarse, crude, and not warm enough" (Gentry 138). The typical attire for men was "denim overalls", and women wore "dresses made out of cheap cotton goods" (Gentry 138). With children constantly growing and maturing, having suitable clothing for them was demanding. During these times, minimizing was the key for most families. Often this meant that items such as "shoes, socks and underwear were accessories" if any at all (Gentry 138). Due to this lack in appropriate clothing, many times "the family was held back from ‘social doin's' because of their unkempt appearance" (Corder and Miller 42). Along with the emotional embarrassment of their personal appearance, sharecroppers and their families suffered physical consequences. Often a lack of inadequate clothing left them more susceptible to illness, and in their circumstances, that was a risk they could not afford to take. Another important factor for the substandard conditions of sharecroppers was their significant lack of food. Having to survive off of low supplies of food is harmful to anyone, but to people who are lacking in so many other areas, it could be devastating. Sharecroppers everywhere were already being cheated of how much of the seasons harvest was actually theirs, in addition to the impractical rules of what they could and could not own while they lived
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