Background: Cotton and Tenant Farming

Though cotton was the crop of the South, the life was not easy. It too was a occupation of uncertainty. The smallest factor could ruin your crop for the season and put your family into severe debt.

In 1918, the king crop began to lose its value to the farmers in Montgomery County. In that year, there was a severe boil weevil infestation like never before. The land was quickly destroyed and the years crops gone. Many farmers turned away from cotton farming and turned to peanut farming. Others turned to use the land for raising cattle. Cotton was too risky of a crop to grow.

When the cotton plants spout, they are immediately endangered by many elements of mother nature. One such element is vegetation and growth of weeds. The weeds could strangle the young plants and ruin the crop for the entire season. So Morris went out and helped get rid of nut grass, cottonweed, and Johnsongrass, all of which were fatally harmful to the crop. Another danger was army worms and weevils.

Cotton Farming System:
The Civil War was not fought because of slavery. Slavery became as issue during the war. However, slavery did not survive the Civil War, legally anyway. But the plantation system of the south still existed. The farmers of the south no longer had access to the free labor they did prior to the south. However, they still managed to use the blacks to their advantage. The plantation system survived the war. What was slavery now became tenant farming. In those times tenant farmers were those who "paid rent to farm a portion of the plantation or sharecroppers who didn't pay rent but turned over the lion's share of the cotton they grew to the plantation owners, or field hands who worked for pennies a day." The lifestyle and living conditions of some of these tenant farmers was sickening. Tenant farmers were black and white alike, but in central Alabama they were mostly black.


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