Oklahoma background CenterResearch CenterMuseums and also SitesState historical Preservation Office PublicationsAbout OHSSupport


Sod home of a sharecropper(19184.129.b, Althia Hart Collection, OHS).

You are watching: How did farming change in the south after the civil war


Tenant farmer"s home in east Oklahoma(8470.17, grant Foreman Collection, OHS).


When the Civil battle ended, the large question pertained to the state the the freed servants of the South. Restore of the southern economy depended upon getting the freedmen ago into the noodle fields. Throughout the duration of restoration the Radical republicans in congress tried to convert the freedmen into little free-holding farmers, yet the former slaves were merely not ready to manage their own farms. What arised out of necessity was southern farm tenancy, a device of near slavery there is no legal sanctions.

Instead of working in gangs together they had actually on antebellum plantations, the freedmen came to be tenants. The planter or landowner assigned each household a little tract of floor to farm yard and detailed food, shelter, clothing, and also the vital seeds and farm equipment. Once the crop was harvested, the planter or landowner take it the noodle to market and also after deducting for the "furnish" (the expense of the items the tenant had been furnished during the year), gave half of the proceeds to the tenant. This setup became well-known as sharecropping.

In the decades after repair tenancy and sharecropping became the way of life in the noodle Belt. By 1930 there to be 1,831,470 tenant farmers in the South. What began as a maker to get former slaves back to work became a pernicious mechanism that entrapped white and black farmers. After 1900 the variety of white tenant farmers grew alarmingly. By 1935 nearly fifty percent of white farmers and 77 percent of black color farmers in the nation were landless.

As farm yard tenancy grew, a tenancy ladder evolved. From the bottom rung, the hapless sharecropper can climb to share tenant if he might accumulate sufficient of his very own equipment and also money. Re-superstructure tenants kept two-thirds or three-fourths the the crop, depending upon how lot they might furnish. If a re-publishing tenant progressed to a allude of needing nothing but the land, he could come to be a cash tenant by paying a resolved rental. Cash tenants kept every one of the proceeds indigenous the crop.

Unfortunately, 10s of thousands of farmers fell down the tenancy ladder fairly than moving up it. Some farmers shed their farms or their standing as cash or re-superstructure tenants because of chop failures, low cotton prices, laziness, ok health, bad management, exhaustion of the soil, too much interest rates, or i can not qualify to complete with tenant labor. Countless tricks the nature (drought, flood, insects, frost, hail, high winds, and plant diseases) might ruin a crop.

Sharecropping and tenancy remained welcomed as a normal part of southern life until the an excellent Depression. Climate the present took organize that the tenancy system desperately required reform. However, the early new Deal"s agricultural programs brought no change. Based upon drastic acreage reduction and also benefit payments that went mainly to landowners, in actuality the programs to be a catastrophe for tenants and sharecroppers. Once planters and also landlords lessened their acreage in manufacturing by 40 or 50 percent, they diminished their tenants through the same amount.

Although there room similarities, the story that tenancy in Oklahoma does not fit the sample of southern farm tenancy. The differences are dictated through the unusual background of the white negotiation of Oklahoma. By 1880 the American farming frontier was ending. Indian are offered about the critical frontier for good farmland. Indian preeminence prohibited white soil ownership. Nor can Indians lease your land to outsiders, yet they can employ white skin - man to work their land. Under the subterfuge of gift employees, a flood of white tenants came right into the territory in the 1870s, 1880s, and also 1890s. Through 1900 three-fourths of all tenant farmer in Oklahoma were white. Few of these early on arrivals obtained ownership by purchase, connivance, or intermarriage, but a deadly combination of economic and also natural forces kept many from climb the farming ladder.

Between 1900 and 1910 the number of white tenants doubled. As soon as the laws readjusted after statehood and non-Indians were allowed to buy land, tenancy slightly declined. However, in the adverse year of the 1920s, when agriculture suffered from short prices and overproduction, white tenancy increased again to practically 70 percent. By 1935, with 119,615 white tenants, Oklahoma had the highest possible rate the white tenancy in the joined States.

In the usual plan with share tenants in Oklahoma, the landlord obtained one-third the the grain crop and one-fourth the the noodle produced. The tenant had actually to provide most that the equipment, animals, and also furnish. Realistically, farming forty or fifty acre on this basis was a prescription for poverty, particularly when cotton prices plunged.

Tenancy did no necessarily equate with poverty, but in the southerly tier the counties and in the triangle that Southeastern Oklahoma, tenancy devolved right into much the exact same poverty-ridden system that exist in the Deep South and Texas. Landlords do tenancy arrangements by dental contracts for one year only. At the end of the year most tenants moved on looking for a much better place. Landlords urged moving due to the fact that it impede the development of an developed tenantry. Due to the fact that of a continuous surplus the tenants, or renters as they to be called, at the end of the crop year landlords quickly recruited new renters, regularly on state even much more favorable come the landlord. In 1920 completely two-thirds of all tenants relocated from one farm yard to another.

Because this mechanism of floor tenure was so transitory, the landlord was forced to administer nothing yet the land. While this yielded a thin profit top top very little investment, it was the roadway to disaster. Neither the one-year tenant no one the landlord had actually a reason to make improvements on the floor or to practice conservation. Essentially, they mined the soil. Lugged to its logical conclusion, floor mining would leave the soil eroded and also exhausted. Manufacturing would cease, and also the landlords, the tenants, and the land would certainly all be ruined.

Black tenancy in Indian Territory has a similar story. All of the 5 Tribes had actually black slaves. When the tribesmen were removed to Indian Territory, they brought their servants with them. Through 1840 countless cotton plantations exist in the Choctaw and Cherokee Nations, mainly in the fertile river bottom of the Arkansas and also Red rivers. Most plantations had several hundred acres in cotton and dozens of servants to carry out the work.

The Civil war disrupted the plantation mechanism in Indian Territory, and also after the war most planters lacked money and also manpower come resume operation. Post-war treaties between the U.S. Government and the five Nations compelled that slaves be freed and become citizens of the people with legal rights to land. In spite of a delay process, at some point most freedmen received land allotments of at least forty acres. When this kept them the end of farm tenancy for a time, in harsh reality a forty-acre farm yard is not big enough to allow a farmer to gain ahead. In every likelihood, plenty of of the freedmen lost their little farms and did so because that the same reasons that white farmers shed theirs.

In 1930 Oklahoma had 22,937 black color farmers, 14,559 of lock tenants. Compared to 180,929 white farmers, 110,770 of whom were tenants, the numbers of blacks are fairly low. As just a couple of thousand Indian slaves ended up being freedmen, it does no seem likely that all black color farmers in Oklahoma were their descendants. Countless must have migrated come Oklahoma together employees or tenants that Indian landowners, or after that as homesteaders or displaced tenants.

See more: Cut The Head Of The Snake Quote S, Cut The Head Off The Snake Quotes

It is clear the the kind of plantation-oriented black sharecropping the existed in the Deep southern after the Civil war never developed in Oklahoma. In fact, the variety of black sharecroppers, only 4,560 in 1930, was rather small. Interestingly, there to be 16,495 white sharecroppers at the exact same time. Generally, the black croppers and also tenants had smaller ranches that were much less productive, lowering their requirements of living and also making your tenure on the land also less secure.

A growing national trouble in the 1930s, southerly farm tenancy ended abruptly during and also after world War II. Government programs, mechanization, and their very own inefficiency drove tenants indigenous the land. Jobs and also a far better way that life lured castle to metropolitan areas. The well-known story the the Okies and also their migration to California vividly illustrates the finish of southerly farm tenancy. Few Americans would mourn the happen of together a system.