Branches Without Roots: Genesis of the Black Working Class in the American South, 1862-1882
The first comprehensive history of the transition from slavery to sharecropping, this major study draws on thousands of previously untapped sources and statistics to reconstruct the socioeconomic history of the antebellum plantation and the birth of the free black worker. Jaynes thoroughly reexamines the symbiotic nature of the sharecropping system for both planters and workers—how it offered planters a stable work force and offered workers relative freedom, a unified family, and payment for their labor—and analyzes the social and economic effects of sharecropping on the larger social structure. At the same time, he argues that the collective organization and self-help activities of the freedpeople, the democratic fever incited by black leaders and local agents of the Freedmen's Bureau, and the failure of federal policy were also key factors in the reorganization of the southern plantation and the entry of blacks into the post war economy.
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