Landlord and Tenant on the Cotton Plantation

Landlord and Tenant on the Cotton Plantation

Landlord and Tenant on the Cotton Plantation

Landlord and Tenant on the Cotton Plantation

Excerpt

Ante bellum plantations have persisted as units to a remarkable degree. Some large acreages have been broken up into smaller proprietorships and others have been reduced in size, but in the area characterized by plantations in 1860 large-scale operations persist to a remarkable extent today.

This fact is graphically illustrated in Figures 2 and 3. In Figure 2 large numbers of slaves per owner indicate concentration of plantations in 1860. In Figure 3 a heavy percentage of tenants in the total of farm operators in 1930 indicates similar concentration 70 years later. The coincidence of the areas of concentration is striking. Between these two dates there are two other points of time at which the concentration of large- scale farms can be indexed. In 1900 the Census enumerated the number of rented farms per owner, showing similar concentrations, and in 1910 the special plantation inquiry showed plantations with five or more tenants located for the most part in the same areas.

CHARACTERISTICS OF PLANTATION AREAS

The location of the areas of large-scale ownership and operation is determined by the adaptability of the land to large- scale production, chiefly of cotton (Figure 4). The States of Virginia, Kentucky, and most of Tennessee, as well as the mountainous areas of North Carolina and Georgia, have almost no large-scale tenant operations. The rolling Upper Piedmont section has very few plantations. Likewise few are found in the Muscle Shoals area, the Mississippi Ridge, and the Interior Plain west of the Mississippi, but the level lands of eastern North Carolina, the Lower Piedmont and Upper Coastal Plain of South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, and the Delta and Loess Bluff regions of the Mississippi and its tributaries in the States of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas are regions of heavy plantation concentration.

These areas are characterized by a high percentage of tenants, a high degree of concentration of land ownership, a heavy proportion of Negroes, a very mobile population, per capita farm incomes higher than those in other southern counties but lower than those in other farming sections of the country, small proportions of urban and village dwellers, scarcity of industries . . .

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