Posted by ESC on September 02, 2002
FURNISH, THE - What the landowner supplied to a sharecropper or tenant farmer. "When sharecropping was conceived during Reconstruction (after the Civil War), the noble idea was to empower the poor laborer with the responsibility of land, for which he would pay the landowner with a portion of what he raised." It didn't always work out equitably. "The fairness of what the sharecropper got was strictly based on the moral fiber of that particular plantation owner, No two landowners did it the same way. 'What the sharecropper got' was called 'the furnish.' That included a cut of land (ten or so acres) and a tenant house on that land; field hands stepped out the back door and went to work, wasting no time with travel. The furnish included seed, tools, mules, and credit at the plantation store." Page 7-8. "Can't be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters" by Robert Gordon (Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 2002). Muddy Waters was blues great McKinley Morganfield. The author says Mr. Morganfield's early experience as a sharecropper conditioned him for the ill treatment he received from record companies.