CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THE PAST
Plantation house, about 1904
|After the end
of the Civil War, people who had been enslaved were,
legally, free. But, what did this freedom mean? Where
they able to make free and open choices about where to
live and how to make a living? How much was their
newfound freedom constrained by the social political, and
economic pressures of the times? After all, freedom,
while obviously better than slavery, did not insure that
the rent was paid and that there was food on the table.
Research at the Jordan Plantation has attempted to address this question. How did previously enslaved people adjust to being "free", even while their personal and economic choices were still constrained by the racism and oppression that existed all around them? See "Sharecropping and Tenancy" excerpted from "Material Culture and Community Structure", for Ken Brown's view of how archaeology can inform these questions (there are more links from there). In the future this site will also provide links to other historians' views about the issue, as well as information from the ex-slaves (and their descendants) themselves.
(Back to History Main Page)
See also Mary Barnes' paper on the social and political environment in late 19th century Brazoria
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‹ Carol McDavid 1998