Baker & Taylor Walter, a young, mentally handicapped man, learns to cope with his father's indifference, and his co-workers' ridicule and develop a sense of personal dignity
Oxford University Press The transition of blacks from slavery into the post-war free economy, and the inevitable reorganization of the plantation after the Civil War, were two of our nation's most profound transformations. Yet surprisingly little has been written about how these transformations occurred. How did the sharecropping system evolve, and how did it help maintain the market after the war? What role did the emancipated slaves, their ex-masters, and the Freedmen's Bureau play in the reorganization of the southern economy? What were the effects of federal policy, the new market in free labor, and race and class conflict? This major new study answers many of these questions and fills the historical lacuna. Jaynes 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. He 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, Jaynes 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.