Late 1860s–1870s

The Civil War ceased in 1865, and the Reconstruction began. In the years following the Black Codes (yearly labor contracts) were created with the intention of limiting the rights of Black people. The laws required permits for Black people who wanted to work in sectors other than agricultural labor, bans on raising their own crops, and required permission to travel.1 

The South re-established this code as “Jim Crow Law”, abolished by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The 13th amendment in 1865, abolished the practice of slavery after over 200 years. The Reconstruction Act by Republican in 1867 called southern states to ratify the 14th amendment (citizenship rights), and in 1870, the 15th amendment granted suffrage to African Americans. 

Indebted landowners, formerly enslaved persons and their descendants continue to work in the fields. 

Early 1870s, the tenant farming and sharecropping system dominated the south for cotton-planning, leading the sharecroppers to owe more to the landowner. Tenant farmers typically paid landowners for the right to grow crops on a certain piece of property. In addition to having some cash to pay rent, they also normally owned some livestock and tools needed for farming.

Sharecroppers, on the other hand, were more impoverished than tenant farmers. With few resources and little or no cash, sharecroppers agreed to farm a certain plot of land in exchange for a share of the crops they raise. The amount of crops the sharecropper gave over to the landowner depended on the agreement with the landowner.2


  1.  “Black Codes,”, modified January 21, 2021,
  2. Charles C. Bolton, “Farmers Without Land: The Plight of White Tenant Farmers and Sharecroppers,” Mississippi History Now, modified March 2004,
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