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Clayton Cramer asks: >"I almost agree, and Professor Finkelman makes a good point about the >fact that freedmen could not mortgage themselves, unlike their masters. >But what about personal loans? When I borrow money on my signature, I >am, effectively, mortgaging my myself by promising to pay back a loan. > >I don't know much about the state of postbellum finance, but was not a >sharecropping contract, in a sense, a form of personal loan? > The answer is relatively simple; ai personal loan is based on the bank's assessment of your credit worthyness, which is in turn based on past credit history, your job, your income, your assets, etc. Former slaves had not credit rating, few assets, no history of paying off loans, and an uncertain income. Banks would not risk loaning them money; masters before the war could get credit because slaves were an asset that could be converted to cash; in that way the war destroyed economic value and wealth. Sharecropping was not exactly a loan; it was more of a joint venture. Landowner provides land, seed, and other capital; sharecropper supplies labor. They then divide the proceeds of the sale. If done fairly and honestly (which was not always the case) the free black farmer probably made some profit at the end of the year, and of course fed himself and his family during they year. I suppose you could construe the seed, use of land without rent, etc. as a "loan" but is so it was collateralized against the potential crop-- like a modern crop loan. Blacks who owned land could have obtained such loans from a bank, but very few former slaves owned land, which is the whole problem. -- Paul Finkelman Chapman Distinguished Professor of Law University of Tulsa College of Law 3120 East 4th Place Tulsa, OK 74104-3189 918-631-3706 (office) 918-631-2194 (fax) email@example.com