Sharecropping has a long history and there is a wide range of situations and types of chords that have used a form of system. Some are subject to tradition, others to the law. The Italian Mezzadria, the French Metayage, the Spanish Mediero, the Slavic Poowcy and the Islamic muzara`a system are examples of legal systems that supported the sharing of actions. As a general rule, a sharing agreement would indicate which portion should cover certain expenses such as seeds, fertilizers, weeding, irrigation district assessments and fuel. Sometimes the sharecropper covered these costs, but they expected a larger share of the crop in return. The agreement would also indicate whether the sharecropper would use its own equipment to grow crops or use the renter`s equipment. The agreement would also indicate whether the owner would recover his share of the crop in the fields or whether the sharecropper would deliver it and where it would be delivered. The freedmen, who wanted autonomy and independence, refused to sign contracts that required the work of gangs, and sharecropping was born as a compromise. Landowners have divided plantations into plots of 20 to 50 hectares suitable for the agriculture of a single family. In exchange for the use of land, a shack and provisions, the sharecroppers agreed to obtain a cash crop and give a share, usually 50 per cent, to the harvest to their owner. Landowners have extended credits to “sharecroppers” to buy property, demanding high interest rates, sometimes up to 70 per cent per year, creating a system of economic dependency and poverty. After the Civil War, former slaves sought work, and planters sought workers.
The lack of cash or an independent credit system has led to the creation of a sharing system. Instead of working in gangs, as they had in antebellum plantations, the freed people became tenants. The planter or landowner provided each family with a small piece of land, providing food, shelter, clothing and seeds and necessary agricultural equipment. When the harvest was harvested, the planter or landowner put the cotton on the market and, after deducting for “installation” (the cost of property made available to the tenant during the year) transferred half of the proceeds to the tenant.