"A provocative empirical study and is likely to stir controversy and motivate research for years to come."
—Donald F. Schaefer, Agricultural History
Bode and Ginter's analysis of the 1860 census reveals a complex rural economy of plantation owners, slaves, and yeoman and tenant farmers. Though census agents lacked a category for reporting tenant farmers and therefore often devised their own methods for recording land tenure, Bode and Ginter examine the agricultural and population schedules to reveal coherent regional patterns of tenancy. In older areas of greater cotton cultivation, tenant farmers were relatively scarce; in areas of recently cleared land within the cotton belt, and even more strikingly in the upcountry, tenant farming was pervasive. Bode and Ginter's findings not only demonstrate the presence of antebellum tenant farmers and sharecroppers but also dispel the current conception of yeoman farmers reduced to tenancy on their return from the battlefields of the Civil War. They show, finally, how new regional patterns of tenancy followed the demise of slavery.
Probing the shifting relations between races and social classes in the nineteenth-century rural South, Farm Tenancy and the Census in Antebellum Georgia revises the dominant scholarly view of the region's social and economic history by carefully measuring the true extent of the changes brought by the Civil War.
Read more about antebellum tenancy at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.
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