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on his one-mule or two-mule holding that his net product of wealth gives him no more than a poor subsistence. The tenant system, as now managed, is economically inferior to the previous slave system, and, while he did not get a due share of the products of his labor as a slave, he gets even less now, because he receives a share of the incidence of the comparative economic loss. As a slave he was better fed and better housed than he now is, he had the best medical attendance in the county, and, if he was disposed to neglect his master's interests, which would have been his own as well, had he been free, he was restrained. Now he is almost as helpless as a child, and is still as thoughtless of the morrow. The merchant who has a lien on his share of the crop pays his taxes, buries his wife or child, buys him a mule if he needs one, and feeds and clothes him and his family to the extent that his improvidence and laziness are allowed credit. The high prices that the tenant pays for supplies are partly due to his untrustworthiness; not infrequently he is missing, after his living has been advanced to him until it is time to pick cotton, or he carries off cotton in the night without accounting for it to the merchant.
The first step in the tenants' elevation now consists in their producing their own food and, as far as possible, other supplies, which are now mostly a charge against their share of the crop. They may then have a margin for saving, if they are economical, and it is only with this that they can elevate themselves to farm ownership and give themselves the independence that was their vision at their emancipation. That any considerable number of them will ever do this is not believed in the South.
The blacks prefer a tenancy to selling their labor for wages, and in some regions, at least, the white owners who cultivate their farms find that only the inferior laborers can be hired, because the superior ones prefer tenancies. As the planters become independent of merchants, they are unfriendly to these tenancies, but, in some instances, have
to grant very small ones, in order to hold the services of the blacks, who, under such circumstances work for wages during a part of the year on the plantation cultivated by their landlord. If the white landlords arrive at independence from debt before the black tenants do, as it may be assumed that they will, if either class is to improve, it seems likely that the blacks will see a service for wages encroaching upon the tenant system.
Some of the more hopeful and thriving of the cotton planters believe that progress will be made by the plantation owners out of the present bad state of affairs in the direction which, in a general way, has been indicated; but a contrary opinion is held by some observers who are familiar with the data of the problem. The plantation owners, most of whom are landlords, often live in towns, having abandoned their plantations to irresponsible tenants who care to work only indifferently and for a bare subsistence of the poorest sort. A tenant whose crop by chance more than suffices to meet his obligations, will pick enough cotton to discharge his debts to the landlord and the merchant and abandon the remainder, knowing that he can live on the next crop until it is harvested. There is complaint that the blacks and the poor whites can not be controlled to secure efficient service and economical production. At any rate, the owners make little effort to control them and leave the merchants to drive them away from their stores and the towns, where they are loafing, when they should be working, by threats of cutting off their supplies.
When plantation owners are asked why they do not make bacon, the frequent answer is that it is discouraging to struggle against hog cholera and that it is cheaper to buy bacon. Energetic efforts to suppress the disease are wanting and there seems to be a nursing of the spirit of helplessness. The objection is also advanced that hogs will stray away because fences are wanting, and that under the tenant system fences can not be built. Although this is true the
obstacle is not too great to be overcome by an industrious farm landlord, who will make a beginning by cultivating a portion of his farm, instead of leaving it all to tenants. That a movement in this direction has been made is indicated by the increased production of corn in very recent years.
Customs that have prevailed in the South since early times still prevent an adaptation of the owners of plantations to the radically changed conditions consequent upon the war. Their traditions forbid them to work. Had they been reared among the surroundings and customs of the Northern farmers, they would long ago have recovered from the disasters of the war by making their plantations provide most of their subsistence; by their own labor and thrifty supervision they would have diversified agriculture, gone into fruit culture and stock raising and emancipated themselves from peonage to merchants and slavery to cotton. It would
have required a sacrifice of sentiment and the traditional standing of a "gentleman" for some time to have achieved these results, but it must now be realized that the loss would have been insubstantial and temporary, while the gain would have been fundamental and permanent.
It is deeply to be regretted that custom and sentiment, at this late day, should be preventing a regeneration of Southern agriculture, and the regret would be still greater if there were to be a considerable immigration of foreign agriculturists. The South, with its weak economic instincts, is peculiarly a prosperous region for those in whom these instincts are active, especially if their style of living is simple and cheap. If German, Polish, Bohemian and Swedish agriculturists were to invade the South in large numbers, they would dispossess the plantation owners by their industry and economy. They were born to work and to save. Already the process has begun in Texas, where large plantations are passing piecemeal into the hands of these people, and where in a few years the purchasers are entirely out of debt.
There is no doubt that the plantation owners can work out their own salvation, if they will, in spite of the low quality of labor that they must hire. The question is whether they have the will to do so, whether long custom and tradition have not so incrusted them that they have lost their adaptability. From the tenants little can be expected. Most of them are so wanting in the instincts on which their rise from the kind of peonage under which they live depends, that they will not do better than they are doing.
It rests with the plantation owners to determine whether the South shall escape from the thralldom of the crop lien. Southern farming, both large and small, needs to shun the storekeeper as much as it can. When the supplies for farm and family are derived mostly from the farm itself, it is apparent that the charges against the cotton crop will be reduced, a margin for saving established and that peonage will be abolished. After this has been done cotton pro
duction can not be forced upon the farmer and he can begin the diversification of agricultural products and branch out into stock raising, truck farming, fruit culture and other occupations according to his opportunities and his markets. The ills of the farmers are not going to be cured by legislation; our remedies oft in ourselves do lie, which we ascribe to heaven."
GEORGE K. HOLMES.
Washington, D. C.
THE MEDIEVAL MANOR.
TRANSLATION OF A TYPICAL EXTENT.
The prevailing character of medieval life was that of a rural community, four-fifths at least of the population of England having no connection with any form of town life. The unit of this social organization was not the single farm, but the manor, township or parish, these being usually only three somewhat different aspects of the same group of people, and the same stretch of country. It is then to documents which will give an insight into the life and organization of this rural group that we must look to obtain a knowledge of the normal, habitual life of the vast proportion of Englishmen during the Middle Ages, as indeed of other nations also, in the same period. There are four general classes of such documents; first, the court roll, or steward's record of the proceedings of the manor courts; secondly, the compotus roll, or annual financial report of the bailiff to the lord of the manor; thirdly, the rental, or custumal, an account of the amount of land held by each tenant on the manor, and the services he owes; and lastly, the extent, or description and estimate of the area and value of the manor, including a list of the tenants, with their holdings, rents, and services, compiled on the testimony of a sworn jury of inhabitants of the manor. The cause of making such an extent seems to have been twofold; first, the periodical necessity for an identification of tenants of the manor and their dues, and secondly, the need for a verification of the value of the manor on occasion of its alienation. It was, however, an inquiry into manorial custom, not a prelude to any change of custom. Force of custom kept the general outlines of the manor the