Slavery In The Post-Civil War

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In the post-Civil War South, the economic situation that followed the emancipation of slaves and therefore the loss of the labor force, forced the South to find a suitable replacement for slavery. This also meant enacting laws designed to keep former slaves tied to the land. The economic system, which replaced slavery, was sharecropping. To keep the former slaves tied to the land, however, laws such as the black codes ensured a steady stream of workers to harvest the crops. Furthermore, vagrancy laws, which were designed to punish vagrants by making them harvest crop for a plantation owner, were passed. This paper will analyze three primary sources, “Working on Shares,” the Black Codes of Mississippi, and post-Civil War Rental Contracts. After…show more content…
Looking at the period in which the primary source was written it was a time when “effective emancipation in the cotton South forced a hasty reorganization of the black labor force to secure the harvest.” “Planters…offered money wages or crop shares plus specified rations and garden rights to freedmen for resumption of slave-style work gang employment in the cotton field” The first primary source that are to be examined deals with sharecropping: “Working on Shares” by Henry Blake. This source is a first-hand account of a former slave, Henry Blake about life in the sharecropping system. Once they were freed, they worked on shares and then they rented. He then says that half the shares went to the landowner and your half could be destroyed if you weren’t careful. And if the slave could not count you would lose even if you could count you could still lose. The land owner never gave you a detailed statement of what was owed to you. And you owed whatever the property-owner said you owned you could not dispute it. But if you were a good worker, you could get anything you desired. And if for some reason, you didn’t make any money they would loan you some. They’d always keep you tied to them. Around Christmas time you could take money for food and as much whiskey as you wanted, for the purpose of keeping you enslaved. The landowner had been always right and if there was an argument he would get mad and a slave might…show more content…
“Vagrancy acts were even more extreme efforts to control the mobility of labor” one such act Titled “AN ACT to amend the vagrant laws of the State” section seven this code states that, “Be it further enacted, That if any freedman, free negro, or mulatto shall fail or refuse to pay any tax levied according to the provisions of the sixth section of this act, it shall be prima facie evidence of vagrancy, and it shall be the duty of the sheriff to arrest such freedman, free negro, or mulatto, or such person refusing or neglecting to pay such tax, and proceed at once to hire for the shortest time such delinquent taxpayer to anyone who will pay the said tax, with accruing costs, giving preference to the employer, if there be one”. The Black Codes were written after the ending of the Civil War and Emancipation. The loss of labor that came about because of emancipation meant that there was no one to harvest the crop. This required a new system and new laws to keep former slaves tied to the

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