The American Peasantry: Southern Agricultural Labor and Its Legacy, 1850-1995: a Study in Political Economy


A sweeping overview of the American peasantry: the largely sharecrop cultivators who, in Seavoy's analysis, rejected the labor norms of commercial agriculture. About equal numbers of black and white sharecroppers chose to practice subsistence cultivation in order to minimize agricultural labor. The study begins with pre-Civil War slave plantations and the landless white peasants who migrated to North America to escape full-time paid labor in Britain. Seavoy then describes and analyzes the operation of the postbellum sharecrop system and related Back Caste System; the different origins of southern and northern Populism; the massive displacement of southern peasants (after 1950) when cotton cultivation was fully mechanized, and how the voluntary joblessness of the urban underclass has been perpetuated by the welfare entitlements of the Great Society.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Westport, CT
Publication year:
  • 1998


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