THE COTTON SHARE TENANT The step in the tenure ladder from cropper to share or cash tenant is more difficult. To secure mules and implements requires industry, economy, and good crops. The Negro cropper seeking to rise in tenure status may meet with the reluctance of the landlord to relax super vision over his labors. The following case comes from Brooks County, Georgia: Anthony More, a splendid worker, had a farm on this plantation, with 20 acres in cotton and 15 in corn in 1905. He made 13 bales of cotton and a large quantity of corn work ing as a cropper. The original account shows the large amount of cash this Negro got during the year, as well as other advances, and the credits of cotton, half the bale being cred ited in each case. He settled up the entire account and had corn and meat extra, not to mention the $100 in cash which he got just prior to the final settlement. This Negro aban doned the place the following year, because although he had enough to buy a mule the landlord would not rent to him for cash. He rented a farm from Mr. J. L. Brinkley, an other Brooks County planter, and wound up his first year $70 in debt and nothing to show for the year's work. His former employer was interested to see how the case would turn out, as this was a good Negro so far as application to work was concerned. The next year the deficit was taken up by another planter named Griffin. At the end of that year he was worse off than at the end of the former year. The Negro came to Mr. L. 0. Borden, the original employer, last Sunday and told him of his troubles. Mr. Borden ex pects him to go back to work as a cropper, but has no doubt that as soon as he pays out of debt and saves enough to buy an animal he will again resort to renting. His observa tion is that after an unusually good crop year, it is very difficult to get labor for the following year. The Negroes have all made money and do not want to work again as croppers' A typical case of a tenant farmer using ineffectual methods of cultivation sanctioned by folklore comes from Tennessee: An old Negro farmer, John Blake, renting 20 acres of good second bottom land, has lived with his present land lord 20 years. He now owns two "plug" mules, two cows,
three hogs, one calf, a dozen or so chickens, a wagon and a few plows and tools. He owes the landlord $100.00. He has no fence around his yard or garden. He builds a split paling fence in the spring and uses it for kindling fires in the winter. He does not begin to clear his land of stalks or to plow and prepare it until April 1st, although our average planting date here is Apr. 20th to May 5th.
He plants his cotton, corn, and garden at certain periods of the moon. He is a close observer of the signs of the Zodiac, and their symbols all have a superstitious meaning to him. He would not violate these if he had to go hungry as a penalty for so doing. Thus it follows that his crops are planted on a hastily prepared seed bed, and through pro- crastination on his part they become stunted and choked with grass, and as a result he gets a low yield which some times pays his rent and living expense. Often it doesn't pay the rent, especially when price is low. Some years he clears a few dollars on his crop and immediately invests it in a Victrola, organ, family photo enlargements, or an automobile that has been driven at least 30,000 miles. You can guess the result of the story. The landlord usually loses on this class of tenant, and they are in the majority in this section. However, there are a few of this type of tenant who have taken more care and interest in saving, who are in good shape relatively and still rent land rather than buy it. But the majority of the Negro tenants as well as white tenants in this section are now in debt and in fact are seldom out of debt.' Among complicating factors is the question of the in feriority of the tenants themselves. Isolated, ill-nour ished, poorly instructed, badly housed, the tenant class, it has been suggested, is rapidly assuming the attitude of a dependent class. The presence or absence of the qualities of industry, good management, and thrift ; the vicissitudes of nature and the market are shown in inter action with the cotton system in one case each from the Eastern and Western Cotton Belts.