Reconstruction Period in Florida

Reconstruction Period in Florida

Reconstruction Period in Florida Now that the Civil War is over, how’s that Reconstruction period going? Grade Level: 4 Extension Lesson- Social Stud...

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Reconstruction Period in Florida Now that the Civil War is over, how’s that Reconstruction period going?

Grade Level: 4 Extension Lesson- Social Studies/History Sunshine State Standards Crisis of the Union: Civil War and Reconstruction in Florida SS.4.A.5.2 Summarize challenges Floridians faced during Reconstruction (e.g., sharecropping, segregation).

FL Frameworks for K-12 Gifted Learners Goal 2, Obj. 1: Identifying Significant Questions Trait: Management of Data for Research (Understand) Sees potential for questions to explore broader aspects of knowledge, moving toward speculative and evaluate aspects Goal 3, Obj. 1: Research Tools and Methodologies Trait: Cooperative Research (Perform) Works cooperatively with peers from a variety of perspectives and abilities while obtaining valid research and/or products from research

Subject(s): (To be used during Week 18 on the 4th Grade CCPS Social Studies Curriculum Map) Description: Students will learn about sharecropping, produce a Pro/Con Chart while having an open discussion whether it was a common sense answer to how the Reconstruction of America could be ratified or bad idea for all involved.

Reconstruction Period in Florida Now that the Civil War is over, how’s that Reconstruction period going?

Student Activity Sheet The Reconstruction Era in America's history is an important time because the nation was trying to put itself back together after the tragic and devastating Civil War. Families had been ripped apart as they fought for different views and rights. The Confederate States that had seceded needed to be brought back into the United States. To prevent future secessions, the rebel states needed to have a consequence. Heated debates of the time were over how severe should the consequences be for the "Rebel" States. Cities and farmland, especially in the South, had been completely destroyed. The casualties from this war were greater than all of America's other wars combined. Four million former slaves were now proclaimed to be free. Hard feelings, distrust, and hatred were the dominant emotions of the time. In the nursery rhyme, Humpty Dumpty, we hear that he had a great fall. This can be equated to America's Civil War. We are also told that "all the king's men could not put Humpty Dumpty back together again." Sharecropping seemed to be the answer for this problem. This is pretty much what happened with Reconstruction as you soon discover in this lesson.

Goal: After reading the article about Share Cropping during the Reconstruction period, make a Pro/Con list addressing whether Share Cropping was a good idea to help Americans recover from the Civil War. Materials: Computer, notebook paper, color markers, large easel paper Procedure: 1. You will work in cooperative groups. 2. Read the article which outlines the effects of Share Cropping in Florida, make sure to make notes in the margins and highlight

information that your group finds interesting (you may want to put a + sign for Pro and a – sign for Con next to the information.) 3. Discuss with your group and make a Pro/Con list of how Share Cropping affected Florida. 4. Culminating activity, present your Pro/Con list to the class and have an open discussion, make sure that you can back up your position by citing the article. 5. Your group may elect to do more research on the topic and add to the list, then have the open discussion with the other groups.

Figure 1.--Here sharecroppers' families are gathering items for the annul 4th of July celebration in Hill House, Mississippi. The scene was photographed by Dorothea Lange in 1936.

Reconstruction: Sharecropping Sharecropping is an agricultural system which developed in the Southern states during the Civil War. It was a farm tenancy system in which families worked a farm or section of land in return for a share of the crop rather than wages. Sharecropping replaced the plantation system destroyed by the Civil War. The victorious Federal authorities which occupied the South did not seize plantations, but emancipation meant that the owners no longer had a captive labor force. The former planters, even those actively engaged in rebellion, for the most part still had their land, but no slaves or money to pay wages. The former slaves on the other hand did not have jobs or land and because they had been denied education, had few options. Sharecropping developed because the former slaves and planters needed each other. The principal crop continued to be cotton. The planters under the sharecropping system continued to a large degree to control the lives of the blacks working their land. While the system at first developed to obtain black labor, eventually poor whites also entered the sharecropping system. The system varied, but in many cases all the cropper brought to the arrangement was his labor. The planter provided the land, but also commonly animals, equipment, seeds and other items. The land owners also commonly advanced credits (money) for the family's living expenses until the crop was harvested. The system was open to considerable abuse because the croppers were uneducated, commonly illiterate. Almost all slaves in the Deep South following the Civil War would have been illiterate. It was illegal to teach slaves to read. By the 20th century black and white croppers would have had some minimal education, but illiteracy was still high. The land owner marketed the crop and kept all accounts. He charged interests on cash advances, often quite high interest. He also commonly operated a store where the croppers had to make their purchases. The normal arrangement was that the cropper got half the proceeds from the harvest. The landowner then deducted cash advances which because of high

interest and dishonest accounting commonly left the cropper very little. The system continued into the Depression of the 1930s. School portraits from the rural South during the late 19th and early 20th century will often include croppers children. Many did not go very far in school. (The Southern states commonly had very weak compulsory school attendance laws.) The children commonly were barefoot. During the 20th century many wore overalls. After World War II, migration to the North, farm mechanization, education, other employment options, and the Civil Rights movement brought the system to an end.

Farm Tenancy System Sharecropping is an agricultural system which developed in the Southern states after the Civil War. It was a farm tenancy system in which families worked a farm or section of land in return for a share of the crop rather than wages.

Civil War Sharecropping replaced the plantation system destroyed by the Civil War. The victorious Federal authorities which occupied the South did not seize plantations, but emancipation meant that the owners no longer had a captive labor force. The former planters, even those actively engaged in rebellion, for the most part still had their land, but no slaves or money to pay wages. The former slaves on the other hand did not have jobs or land and because they had been denied education, had few options. Thus emancipation initially resulted in an acute labor shortage in the largely agrarian South. Productivity plummeted and the economy in many areas essentially collapsed.

Reconstruction President Johnson after the assassination of President Lincoln advocated a policy of "soft" Reconstruction. He rapidly brought the Southern states into the Union. The resulting all-white state legislatures passed "black codes" meant to force the recently

freed blacks back on the plantations. Authorities put them to work in gangs. The codes varied from state to state, but were very similar in many ways. The black codes denied blacks the right to purchase or even rent land. The states also passed vagrancy laws authorizing authorities to arrest blacks "in idleness" and assign them to work/chain gang. They were then auctioned off to land owners for varying periods--often as long as a year. Another element of some of the black codes was to required blacks to have written proof of employment. In some cases blacks were not permitted to leaving plantations. The Freedmen's Bureau was even used to enforce some of these codes, especially the laws against vagrancy and loitering. Some blacks had stayed on the plantations and began farming as squatters. State officials prevented these squatters from obtaining title to the land. The aim of white authorities was essentially to reestablish the plantation and slavery. Congressional Republicans moved to gain control of the Reconstruction from President Johnson. Their key step was to deny representatives from the former Confederate states who arrived in Washington from taking their Congressional seats. This meant that the Republicans had very strong majorities in both the House and Senate. They then proceeded to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1866 as well as the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. This took the unprecedented step of extend citizenship rights to black Americans. This provided them "equal protection of the laws". The Congress also passed the 15th Amendment which guaranteed voting rights. (The amendments had to be ratified by the states, but the impetus came from the Radical Republicans in Congress.) The Radical Republicans also attempted to confiscate plantations and redistribute land to the freed blacks. This was defeated.

Development of the Share Cropping System Sharecropping developed because the former slaves and planters needed each other. The solution to this economic impasse was the sharecropping system. White authorities attempted to impose a thinly disguised form of slavery. The plantation owners sought

to restore gang labor under white overseers. With the ascent of the Radical Republicans in Congress, however, this proved impossible. And the freed black man who wanted real autonomy generally refused to sign contracts that involved gang labor. Federal authorities limited the ability of white local officials to use force. The result was that sharecropping emerged as a kind of compromise. Land owners began to divide the plantations into 20- to 50-acre plots. Notice the rough approximation of the 40 acres and a mule concept. This was the area of land that could reasonably be farmed by a single family using existing methods. This meant the former slaves continued the routine of cotton cultivation and under supervision--albeit less total than before the War. In addition, some blacks even managed to acquire land of their own.

Assessment Some modern authors have likened share cropping to a new system of slavery. This is too simplistic an assessment. Sharecropping did allow land owners considerable control over the lives of the freed slaves--but no longer absolute control. It is certainly true that share cropping posed very severe limitations on freed blacks. And that it developed as an exploitive system. This was in large measure due to the monopoly of legal and extra-legal power by whites who enacted the Jim Crow system. Even so, the sharecropping system did allow the newly freed blacks for the first time in their lives a degree of autonomy. Freedmen all over the South with teams of mules began dragging their slave cabins away from the centralized plantation slave quarters to their new fields. Modern authors often miss very real differences. The most important was the profound changes in black family life. Under slavery there was no legal recognition of family units. Some of the most obscene aspects of slavery was the abuses imposed on slave families. Any member of the family could be sold off at any time. Women and children worked the fields along with the men. Sharecroppers could on a family basis divide labor. As a result, wives and daughters were less involved in field work. They began to devote their energies to childcare

and housework. These may seem to modern readers as very small gains. They were to the newly freed blacks very important achievements.

Crops The principal crop continued to be cotton. A variety of crops were grown, but cotton was generally the real money crop. The same methods continued to be used, labor intensive agriculture. Unlike other major crops, few technical innovations developed in cotton agriculture.

Racial Connotations The first share croppers were the former black slaves. The planters under the sharecropping system continued to a large degree to control the lives of the blacks working their land. Gradually the system was extended to poor white farmers. While the system at first developed to obtain black labor, eventually poor whites also entered the sharecropping system. The relative proportion, however, was different. The precise numbers varied from state to state, but most black farmers were share croppers. Most white farmers owned their land.

Operation The system varied, but in many cases all the cropper brought to the arrangement was his labor. The planter provided the land, but also commonly animals, equipment, seeds and other items. The land owners also commonly advanced credits for the family's living expenses until the crop was harvested. The system was open to considerable abuse because the croppers were uneducated, commonly illiterate. Almost all slaves in the Deep South following the Civil War would have been illiterate. It was illegal to teach slaves to read. By the 20th century black and white croppers would have had some minimal education, but illiteracy was still high. The land owner marketed the crop and kept all accounts. He charged interests on cash advances, often

quite high interest. He also commonly operated a store where the croppers had to make their purchases. The normal arrangement was that the cropper got half the proceeds from the harvest. The landowner then deducted cash advances which because of high interest and dishonest accounting commonly left the cropper very little. The system continued into the Depression of the 1930s.

Children Sharecropping was a family undertaking. Both the parents and the children worked on the farm. Sharecropping involved backbreaking labor and this included the children. Their work assignment was affected by the age and gender of the children. The work included plowing (commonly with a mule), planting, weeding, and harvesting. Even when the children attended school, they would stay home when there was work to be done, especially when it was harvest time. School portraits from the rural South during the late-19th and early 20th-century will often include cropper’s children. This was especially common after the southern states began passing compulsory school attendance laws in the early 20th century. Many did not go very far in school. (The Southern states commonly had very weak compulsory school attendance laws.) The children commonly were barefoot. During the early-20th century many children in rural areas wore overalls. This was especially common with cropper children.

Grading Rubric NAME:_____________________________ KNOWLEDGE: 4 3 2 1 0 Shows an understanding of the material Able to answer questions PARTICIPATION: 4 3 2 1 0 Does their “fair share” in presenting the material Participates in each part of the presentation LENGTH: 4 3 2 1 0 Long enough to adequately cover assigned material CONTENT: 4 3 2 1 0 Topic covered thoroughly Enough information given to understand topic Did not exclude any important information or include any unnecessary information DESIGN: 4 3 2 1 0 Very creative Easy to see and follow Did not include any unnecessary graphics HANDS-ON ACTIVITY: 4 3 2 1 0 Included class in the learning process Did more than lecture to the class TOTAL ________ 23-24 A 21-22 B 18-20 C 16-17 D 0-15

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