Last Auction: History of Sharecropping | Carolina Stories - Episode 7


The history of sharecropping and its after-effects in the tobacco industry.

After the Civil War, former enslaved Africans had a great desire to own their own farms. Most freedmen were very poor, however, and they became tenant farmers or sharecroppers. They farmed a plot of land belonging to someone else, and in return, they received a share of the crop. But the sharecropper system did not give blacks the financial independence they were seeking. They had to borrow from the landowner to purchase seed, fertilizers, and provisions until the crop was harvested. This caused them to fall into debt year after year, so that very few black farmers were able to buy their own farms. Robert Mason's grandfather, who was born into slavery and farmed as a sharecropper, worked very hard to buy his own land, so that he could pass it along to his family.