Test your knowledge with a quiz
- Cotton was grown in the South, but often shipped to manufacturing plants in the northern states, making it an important crop for the American economy broadly. While this desk illustrates the tools that would have been familiar to its creator William Howard (a freed slave and laborer on Kirkwood Plantation), its refined decoration also demonstrates a range of influences and interactions that extended far beyond a southern plantation.
- Cotton was labor-intensive and the financial success of plantations such as Kirkwood was dependent on slave labor. Following the Civil War and abolition of slavery, some southern states passed highly discriminatory and restrictive laws known as Black Codes; these laws enabled the exploitative practice of sharecropping, which kept African Americans indebted and reliant on landowners in the South.
More to think about
In this video, the speakers use the term “enslaved people” instead of the commonly used term “slaves.” Why do you think the speakers made this choice, and do you think such subtle shifts in language can be important?