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sharecropping,system of farm tenancy once common in some parts of the United States. In the United States the institution arose at the end of the Civil War out of the plantation system. Many planters had ample land but little money for wages. At the same time most of the former slaves were uneducated and impoverished. The solution was the sharecropping system, which continued the workers in the routine of cotton cultivation under rigid supervision. Economic features of the system were gradually extended to poor white farmers. The cropper brought to the farm only his own and his family's labor. Most other requirements—land, animals, equipment, and seed—were provided by the landlord, who generally also advanced credit to meet the living expenses of the cropper family. Most croppers worked under the close direction of the landlord, and he marketed the crop and kept accounts. Normally in return for their work they received a share (usually half) of the money realized. From this share was deducted the debt to the landlord. High interest charges, emphasis on production of a single cash crop, slipshod accounting, and chronic cropper irresponsibility were among the abuses of the system. Farm mechanization and a marked reduction in cotton acreage have virtually put an end to the system.
See D. E. Conrad, The Forgotten Farmers: The Story of Sharecroppers in the New Deal (1965); A. F. Raper and I. D. Reid, Sharecroppers All (1941, rep. 1971); R. Coles, Migrants, Sharecroppers, Mountaineers (1972).
sharecroppingan arrangement whereby a landholder receives a given amount of a harvest from those working the land. Various forms of land possession may be covered by this arrangement: the ‘landholder’ may or may not have absolute ownership of the land, and the share cropper may or may not have rights of possession of the land. The Macmillan Dictionary of Anthropology (Seymour-Smith, 1986) neatly summarizes sharecropping as an arrangement between a land-supplier and a labour-supplier. This is a common arrangement in AGRARIAN SOCIETIES and one of the various ways in which the PEASANTRY have access to land and its products. Examples have been found throughout history and in most areas of the world (Pearce, 1983). The most common arrangement historically has been for there to be a 50/50 split of the harvest between the labourer and the land-supplier. This arrangement seems to be most common when other means of labour control have broken down and the supervisory control of the land-supplier is weakened. Thus sharecropping became common in the postbellum southern United States after the abolition of slavery and persisted until the 1930s. Similarly, it has been argued that it rose in importance with the decline of SERFDOM in Europe. Sharecropping continues to exist in many parts of the contemporary THIRD WORLD, especially in Latin America and Asia. As with other noncapitalist rural labour arrangements, there is debate as to whether it is compatible with the spread of CAPITALISM. Thus it has been seen as transitional between tenant farming and wage labour.
a particular form of rent relations. In sharecropping the tenant (sharecropper) receives land, draft animals, agricultural implements, and seed from the landowner and pays him from a third to a half of what he raises. Sharecropping came into being in the USA after the Civil War (1861-65), chiefly in the southern states and primarily involving the Negro population. As agriculture became mechanized, sharecropping declined. Between 1930 and 1964 the number of sharecroppers decreased from 800,000 to 100,000.