Sharecropping appeared in the Southeastern United States, including Appalachia, after the
Civil War as a way to continue post-slavery white supremacy over African Americans, but it
ultimately included poor whites as well. It was a way to avoid the now illegal possession
of slaves while at the same time keeping workers for labor in a subordinate manner.
Although former slaves and their descendants composed the majority of sharecroppers, the
poor whites joined the blacks in their struggles against the landowners by the end of the
Sharecropping by definition is the working of a piece of land by a tenant in exchange for
a portion, usually half, of the crops or the revenue that they bring in for the landowner.
In return for the work on the land, the landowners supply the tenants and their families
with living accommodations, seeds and fertilizer, tools, and food that can be bought in a
commissary, charging fairly high interest rates to the tenants. These rates create an
environment of debt and poverty that the sharecroppers have trouble escaping from. When