Sharecroppers: Reconstruction Era of the United States and Field Hands

1329 words 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…

Many sharecroppers across the south "were not even allowed to have gardens, cows, or chickens" (Walker 18). Most of the time, the only field crops that sharecroppers could have as their own food were: corn, that was ground for biscuit meal, cane, that was ground for syrup and molasses, sweet potatoes, and cow peas. The only meat that was incorporated into their diet was salt pork or "sowbelly". (Walker 37)
Many sharecroppers have been known to comment that most "garden vegetables, milk, butter, and eggs have never been apart of their diet" (McKeon 280). As a result of this serious lack of food many sharecroppers and their families went hungry, which led to malnourishment, and in many cases came hand in hand with disease. Finally, one of the most prominent sources for substandard conditions concerning sharecropping was increasing health issues. Most certainly, the environment and lack of protection from clothing that the sharecroppers experienced, along with the detrimental shortage of food, had a great impact on their physical tolerance against illness. These main points were the most common contributing factors to a sharecropper and his family's decline in health. However, the whole health community itself seemed to be in shambles. If anyone was sick, finding a place to get treated was a task in itself. A major "lack in sanitary facilities" and "suitable provisions" for illness did not help improve the chances of


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