Sharecropping in the Post Civil-War Era: Background information when reading The Twelve-Mile Straight

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The Twelve-Mile Straight

A Novel

by Eleanor Henderson

The Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson X
The Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson
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    Sep 2017, 560 pages

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Beyond the Book:
Sharecropping in the Post Civil-War Era

The major characters in The Twelve-Mile Straight grew up as sharecroppers.

Merriam-Webster defines a sharecropper as "a tenant farmer…who is provided with credit for seed, tools, living quarters, and food, who works the land, and who receives an agreed share of the value of the crop minus charges." While farming methods similar to sharecropping have been used around the world for millennia, the concept of the tenant farmer became especially prevalent in the United States during the post-Civil War era known as Reconstruction (1863-1867) and through the first half of the 20th century.

During the last few months of the Civil War, Union General William T. Sherman issued what was known as "Field Order Number 15," a plan granting each family of freed slaves "forty acres and a mule," with the land coming from territory formerly held by Georgia plantation owners. The policy was later rolled back, with President Andrew Johnson ordering all ...

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