From Slaves to Sharecroppers Commonlit Answers

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  • 6th Grade
  • Lexile: 1040

Source: From Slaves to Sharecroppers by Leigh Dekle

Read Also: Hello, My Name Is CommonLit Answers

Assessment Answers

QuestionAnswer
PART A: Which statement identifies the central idea of the text?After slavery ended, many freedmen became sharecroppers and were taken advantage of by landowners.
PART B: Which detail from the text best supports the answer to Part A?

A. “The government of the United States tried to help freedmen find success in their new lives and set up new programs to achieve this goal.” (Paragraph 3)

“This meant that sometimes former slaves would
end up working for the same families who had
enslaved them.” (Paragraph 4)

“These suggestions included giving sharecroppers
the holidays off and requiring landowners to give
“good and kind treatment” to sharecroppers.”
(Paragraph 5)

“Landowners sometimes sold sharecroppers seeds, shelter, and food for outrageous prices, slowly putting the borrowers into debt.” (Paragraph 6)
“Landowners sometimes sold sharecroppers seeds, shelter, and food for outrageous prices, slowly putting the borrowers into debt.” (Paragraph 6)
Which of the following describes how sharecropping is introduced in the text?as one of the few jobs that freedmen were able to get.
How does the section “Legal Freedom” contribute to the development of ideas in the text (Paragraphs 2-3)?It reveals how difficult it was to transition slaves to freedmen.

How does the author describe Reconstruction following the Civil War in the text?

In the text, the author describes Reconstruction following the Civil War as a challenging and difficult period, particularly for the freed slaves. The author conveys that this was a time of significant transition and adjustment for both black and white people.

Former slaves, who had just been given their freedom, were trying to integrate into society as free individuals, a process fraught with difficulties.

This is exemplified by Houston Hartsfield Holloway’s quote that freed slaves “did not know how to be free” and that “white people did not know how to have a free colored person about them.”

The text also touches on the legal aspects of Reconstruction, such as the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment, which legally ended slavery. However, it highlights that the legal end of slavery did not immediately lead to a smooth transition into a free and equal society.

Instead, the period was marked by systemic challenges and inequities, as seen in the establishment of sharecropping, which often resulted in exploitation and quasi-enslavement conditions for many freedmen.

Thus, the author portrays Reconstruction as a complex and problematic era, characterized by a struggle for true freedom and equality for former slaves.

Discussion Answers

How were black sharecroppers treated by white landowners? Why do you think sharecroppers were treated so unfairly?

Black sharecroppers were often treated unfairly and exploitatively by white landowners. The text describes several ways in which this mistreatment manifested:

  1. Economic Exploitation: Sharecroppers were frequently charged exorbitant prices for seeds, shelter, and food by the landowners, leading them into a cycle of debt. This debt often prevented them from leaving the plantation, creating a situation akin to bondage.
  2. Unfair Contracts: The contracts designed for sharecropping were often skewed to keep sharecroppers in a state of financial dependency and poverty. Landowners would sometimes not provide the promised portion of crops or restrict sharecroppers from selling their share to anyone but the landowner, further limiting their financial independence.
  3. Lack of Fair Treatment: Despite suggestions from the Freedmen’s Bureau for fair treatment, including holidays off and kind treatment, these ideals were rarely realized in practice.

The unfair treatment of sharecroppers can be attributed to several factors:

  • Social and Racial Prejudices: The end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery did not erase deep-seated racial prejudices. Many white landowners continued to view African Americans as inferior and sought to maintain a system of control and dependency reminiscent of slavery.
  • Economic Motives: Landowners had an economic incentive to maintain a labor force that was dependent and cheap. By keeping sharecroppers in debt, landowners ensured a steady supply of labor without having to pay fair wages.
  • Lack of Legal Protections: Freedmen had limited legal recourse to challenge unfair practices. The laws and enforcement mechanisms during Reconstruction were often inadequate in protecting the rights and interests of former slaves.
  • Limited Opportunities: The lack of education and skills among former slaves, due to their previous life in bondage, limited their employment opportunities. This lack of options made them more vulnerable to exploitation in sharecropping arrangements.

The treatment of black sharecroppers by white landowners was a continuation of the racial and economic dynamics of the slavery era, influenced by persistent racial prejudices, economic exploitation, and inadequate legal protections.


How did prejudice against African Americans persist after slavery ended? How did this impact African Americans’ ability to succeed as freedmen in America?

After slavery ended, people still treated African Americans unfairly because of their skin color. This is called prejudice, which means judging someone or thinking less of them without knowing them. Even though African Americans were free, many people still didn’t treat them as equals.

This prejudice made life really hard for African Americans trying to succeed in America. They often couldn’t get good jobs or education. Most of the time, the only work they could find was sharecropping, which didn’t pay much and sometimes was almost like being a slave again.

They were also treated unfairly in other ways, like not being able to vote or use the same places as white people, like schools, restaurants, and buses.

Because of all this unfair treatment, it was super tough for African Americans to make a good life for themselves and their families, even though they were no longer slaves. They had to work really hard just to get the things that everyone needs, like a home, food, and a chance to learn and have a better future.

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