The sharecropping system began after the Civil War ended in 1865. By the early 1870s, sharecropping was the primary farming method used in the U.S. South. Sharecroppers usually were black families who had no other way to support themselves after slavery ended.
Under the sharecropping system, individuals occupied and worked a portion of land owned by another farmer. The sharecroppers gave the landowner a portion of the harvested crop each year as a rental payment. The sharecroppers also had to pay the landowner for any tools or supplies they needed to purchase during the year, which left many sharecroppers in debt and unable to buy land of their own.