Thread for People to Discuss Why They Are Not Going to Watch "Reconstruction" The Henry Louis Gates Documentary Tonight

Belle Montgomery

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 25, 2017
Location
44022
It slays me that people will not watch it at all...I have found there is always something to learn even if you don't agree with the majority of it. It never hurts to "hear" what the other person has to say about their perspective of an issue. There will always be "spin" ,especially nowadays. You can disagree/complain later but at least look for common ground. This is what is going on in Washington and why things can't get done!!! Marriages fail for the very same reason -"poor communication"
 

Karen Lips

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 24, 2008
Location
Waxahachie,Texas
Is there a good source for numbers of sharecroppers during the 1870s?
Just from what I know of my personal family history it seems that many white people were share croppers or owned their own farms. Perhaps census records would help in determining how many whites worked as share croppers. I personally feel like even those who were lucky enough to own their own farms were probably on the poor side too. It seems to me that compared to the North the South was mostly an impoverished place and the living conditions for most people were not on the same level as other parts of the country. I realize that there were many impoverished people living in northern cities who worked in factories, probably just barley eking out a living.
 

uaskme

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
In Middle Tennessee, post War, many Blacks left the Farm and went to the City. Many Whites left the City and went to the Farm. The Races Segregated themselves.

Cash-strapped planters in post bellum Louisiana had no choice, "a straw grasped by the drowning planter," as an old planter put it. When a combination of floods, drought, frosts, and a wilder financial panic wiped away the hopes of many Louisiana sugar planters in 1873, Louis Bouchereau unequivocally advised planters to adopt the "share system," which entailed "comparatively small" losses in poor seasons. He claimed that "White tenants" were the most productive, followed by, in descending order, "Negro Share labor" and Negro gang labor," the worst being those paid in full monthly, Bouchereau's call for a rapid transition to white tenants failed to materialize, but his message resonated in Louisiana. "Negros are better hands as monthly wages, as sugar plantations are now conducted, than either Chinamen or whites, "Gilmore stated in 1877, "for the Celestials are altogether too slow for this kind of work, while no white man worth having is willing to work as a common monthly laborer, when he can do so much better working on the tenant or share system.

But unable to work their indebted estates on wage labor, desperate planters relied on share arrangements with black workers to survive the financial disaster enveloping the sugar industry. In December 1873, Richard McCall found it impossible to "work my place on the wages system next year, owing to the want of money," and noted that the "share Plan" was "generally talked of" in his neighborhood. These "share men," another planter complained, were "preaching to the negros that however little they make on shares they will do better than to work for $13.00per month." But it was the elite planters, a shrinking minority with access to capital, who had the upper hand in labor negotiations--with white, black and Chinese workers. "The scarcity of capital and labor will compel men of small means to work their sugar estates intirely upon the share systems," a planter in 1877 explianed. "Large planters from the lower districts will come up here and bid $4 or $5 more per month than we are able to pay, and in this way they will finally secure all the labor, form the small estates." pp216 Coolies and Cane by Moon-Ho Jung

Little discussion of what LA Sugar Planters were going thru. Many Blacks, after emancipation, didn't want to be tied down. They want freedom to move around. So they would work a Contract Gang System, of hire out for a monthly wage. Many wanted that monthly check, because they didn't trust someone to hold their money for and extended period. The above was in 77. It took many experiments to get to this stage. Planters didn't have the Cash to pay, workers, they didn't want to sell their land. Many Blacks wanted land, but the Planters didn't want to sell. So, sharecropping was the compromise that neither side wanted.

Growing divisions among Louisiana's planters and among whites galvanized immigration advocates to plea louder than ever for racial solidarity, pleas that untimately advocates left a lasting imprint on the racial division of labor. The entire region faced dark days ahead, Dennett maintained, "unless the planters encourage white immigration, and the share or tenant system, with white men to make and take off their crops." After the overthrow of Republican rule in April 1877, Govenor Francis T. Nicholls seemed poised to renew public efforts to encourage white immigration. I June, he appointed new commissioners, including Dennett, to the Bureau of Immigration. but its mode of operation remained the same. Lacking additional authority or public funds, the agency could only publish and distribute circulars extrolling Louisiana an court planter participation in selling or leasing excess lands. Indeed, immigration advocates paid endless tributes to owners of capacious mills and huge tracts of land, casting them as the key to "redemption" in the form of white unity, immigration, and central factories. Some of these planters, Gilmore wrote approvingly, furnished houses and lands to white growers in exchange for lower prices on the cane, a system wanting only "the requisite number of white laborers," In such ways, while the resort to shares with black workers emerged as a mark of shame and destitution, the embrace of white tenant families came to signify the reinvigoration of "progressive" agriculture and white supremacy. By the late 1870s and 1880s, rental and share arrangements became a social privilege ideologically reserved for whites only in the sugar region.pp216-217 Sugar and Cane

So, in the end, LA Sugar Planters will rely on mostly White Labor, Just like the Yankee. Other areas in the South were different.
 

Sbc

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Location
Easley, South Carolina
I found out last week that some folks at CWT who did not watch the new Henry Louis Gates documentary "Reconstruction" wanted to talk about why they did not watch it. To facilitate that, I have created this thread. If you want to express yourself on why you are not watching the two-part series on PBS, this is the place!
Recorded to watch when schedule permits
 

MattL

Guest
Joined
Aug 20, 2015
Location
SF Bay Area
I've been waiting to get the right moment to stream it via pbs online (to my tv via chromecast though there are various apps out there)
https://www.pbs.org/show/reconstruction-america-after-civil-war/episodes/

Not sure if this requires the premium "passport" access (often new stuff doesn't require that for a short period), though I do pay for that since I've been catching up on the latest Finding Your Roots. Also hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr.
 

Georgia Sixth

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Dec 14, 2011
Location
Texas
Thanks. I saw in Ed Baptiste's course on American Capitalism that many whites were sharecroppers and I was very aware that there were white sharecroppers even when I was a boy. It seems like an important part on the labor system post-war, and one that tied in national banking.

Pat,
I am the grandson of white sharecroppers, among the last generation of them. Edited.

My father told me what he observed of this system. His father was given responsibility for farming a set acreage by The Owner. (I wanted to write "The Man" but that's too cliche...and anachronistic.) He had to provide a set percentage to The Owner. I'm not sure if it was a percentage of the total crop or the sale of the crops. Whatever remained, was my grandfather's income. In addition, he was free to use land to plant his own crops for his family's consumption as well as raise sheep or hogs. He also had free rent for the domicile. He seemed to have a pretty free hand, actually, with what he did. He just had to live with (and live on) whatever was left. He also could (and did) hire outside workers to help during crunch periods like harvest. This was especially true of cotton crops as it was so difficult to pick and you'd want to get your crop to market before the price began to drop. Also, my grandfather was free to let his many children be hired by other sharecroppers to help them. Incidentally, this was a "mixed" enterprise. It was not uncommon to see both blacks and whites picking cotton together, all hired by the same sharecropper. I never knew my grandfather -- he died before I was born -- but I spent a lot of time with his widow and she often told me about working in the cotton fields -- it was the job she hated most. It lean years, she hired herself out to other sharecroppers to pick cotton and bring some income to the household.
My grandfather must have been good at this, though. He was able to invest in a cotton mill in Denton County, Texas. But that all went south as the above mentioned changes hit the economic landscape shortly thereafter and sharecropping and much of the cotton farming vanished.

It was a hard life with constant work and very long days. Yet the family went through the Great Depression and never experienced hunger. In fact, their home was a regular stop for hobos passing through, a place where my grandmother would always provide them a little something to eat.

Edited.
Removed discussion of 20th Century events and politics.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Karen Lips

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 24, 2008
Location
Waxahachie,Texas
Pat,
I am the grandson of white sharecroppers, among the last generation of them. Edited.

My father told me what he observed of this system. His father was given responsibility for farming a set acreage by The Owner. (I wanted to write "The Man" but that's too cliche...and anachronistic.) He had to provide a set percentage to The Owner. I'm not sure if it was a percentage of the total crop or the sale of the crops. Whatever remained, was my grandfather's income. In addition, he was free to use land to plant his own crops for his family's consumption as well as raise sheep or hogs. He also had free rent for the domicile. He seemed to have a pretty free hand, actually, with what he did. He just had to live with (and live on) whatever was left. He also could (and did) hire outside workers to help during crunch periods like harvest. This was especially true of cotton crops as it was so difficult to pick and you'd want to get your crop to market before the price began to drop. Also, my grandfather was free to let his many children be hired by other sharecroppers to help them. Incidentally, this was a "mixed" enterprise. It was not uncommon to see both blacks and whites picking cotton together, all hired by the same sharecropper. I never knew my grandfather -- he died before I was born -- but I spent a lot of time with his widow and she often told me about working in the cotton fields -- it was the job she hated most. It lean years, she hired herself out to other sharecroppers to pick cotton and bring some income to the household.
My grandfather must have been good at this, though. He was able to invest in a cotton mill in Denton County, Texas. But that all went south as the above mentioned changes hit the economic landscape shortly thereafter and sharecropping and much of the cotton farming vanished.

It was a hard life with constant work and very long days. Yet the family went through the Great Depression and never experienced hunger. In fact, their home was a regular stop for hobos passing through, a place where my grandmother would always provide them a little something to eat.

Edited.
Removed discussion of 20th Century events and politics.
So interesting, thanks for sharing!
 

Pat Young

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Featured Book Reviewer
Joined
Jan 7, 2013
Location
Long Island, NY
Pat,
I am the grandson of white sharecroppers, among the last generation of them. Edited.

My father told me what he observed of this system. His father was given responsibility for farming a set acreage by The Owner. (I wanted to write "The Man" but that's too cliche...and anachronistic.) He had to provide a set percentage to The Owner. I'm not sure if it was a percentage of the total crop or the sale of the crops. Whatever remained, was my grandfather's income. In addition, he was free to use land to plant his own crops for his family's consumption as well as raise sheep or hogs. He also had free rent for the domicile. He seemed to have a pretty free hand, actually, with what he did. He just had to live with (and live on) whatever was left. He also could (and did) hire outside workers to help during crunch periods like harvest. This was especially true of cotton crops as it was so difficult to pick and you'd want to get your crop to market before the price began to drop. Also, my grandfather was free to let his many children be hired by other sharecroppers to help them. Incidentally, this was a "mixed" enterprise. It was not uncommon to see both blacks and whites picking cotton together, all hired by the same sharecropper. I never knew my grandfather -- he died before I was born -- but I spent a lot of time with his widow and she often told me about working in the cotton fields -- it was the job she hated most. It lean years, she hired herself out to other sharecroppers to pick cotton and bring some income to the household.
My grandfather must have been good at this, though. He was able to invest in a cotton mill in Denton County, Texas. But that all went south as the above mentioned changes hit the economic landscape shortly thereafter and sharecropping and much of the cotton farming vanished.

It was a hard life with constant work and very long days. Yet the family went through the Great Depression and never experienced hunger. In fact, their home was a regular stop for hobos passing through, a place where my grandmother would always provide them a little something to eat.

Edited.
Removed discussion of 20th Century events and politics.
Make sure to tell these stories to the younger generation. During the Depression my dad, from Queens NY, was a farm laborer in Pennsylvania in the summers.
 
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