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Memphis Moment: Sharecropping

By Steve Pike


Memphis, TN –

After the civil war, the South experienced an economic revolution -- a transition from a plantation economy, based on slave labor, to one of small farms with paid labor. This system was called Sharecropping. By 1870, the average farm was half of what it had been before the war. The landowners could no longer have slaves, and they lacked the money to hire day labor, so they turned to poor tenant farmers. Landowners persuaded tenant farmers to farm high yield cash crops, such as cotton, which quickly exhausted the soil, even at the expense of growing food crops to feed their families.

Memphis Moments is co-produced by the Pink Palace Family of Museums (http://www.memphismuseums.org) and WKNO-FM and airs on Tuesdays and Thursdays during All Things Considered on the WKNO Stations.