Sharecropping: An economic system whereas a land owner "leases" property to a farmer in return for a share of proceeds from his crops, typically 1/3. Since sharecrop farmers were required to buy seed, tools, and such, as well as work the crop, there was usually very little left in the way of profits at the end of the year. A prevalent practice in northeastern Mississippi and throughout Tennessee during the pre-Civil War years; later picked up throughout the south after the war.
Contrary to popular belief, a large percentage of sharecroppers were white. Regardless of color, sharecroppers were universally poor. The practice was essential eliminated with Roosevelt's New Deal Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933. A number of modern-era blues musicians had backgrounds as sharecroppers.