|Date(s):||January 9, 1890|
|Course:||“Rise And Fall of the Slave South,” University of Virginia|
On January 9, 1890, Colonel Thomas P. Stovall closed a deal on one of the largest land transactions in the state of Georgia in recent history. His company, the Union Real Estate Trust, purchased 24,000 acres of plantation land used for cotton cultivation located in Twiggs County, Georgia. The land was not being used to its highest potential, which was a significant appeal to the Trust company. Their intent was to use their resources to redistribute the land to a dependable group of working class people such as white immigrants that would be willing to revitalize the cotton industry. They would not only be profiting financially, but doing their part in reigniting the market in the area. Although the plantations were being dismantled, Twiggs residents were happy to see an organization take an interest in boosting the economy.
By the end of the nineteenth century, cotton had worn out its welcome as the cash crop of the South. While the North had moved on into industry, much of the South continued to revolve around agriculture, especially with the adoption of the sharecropping system following the end of slavery. The number of farms grew, and the number of tenants working the farms increased as well. Although agriculture was expanding, the supply became so much higher than the demand that the price of cotton declined. Georgia's failing farming sector became the primary topic of the state's Agricultural Society and its branch of the Farmer's Alliance.
The most criticized aspect of the agricultural system was its dependence on sharecropping. Too many farms were being run by the tenants, mostly black families, to their own advantage without proper supervision by the landowners. Crops were not being cultivated to their utmost potential, but rather as a means to support individual families. The Union Real Estate Trust sought to remedy this situation. By claiming the sharecropped plantations and selling the land to who they believed to be more capable of using the property, they were promoting the need to reevaluate and solve the problems of the current farming system.