After the Civil War ended, slaves were set free; yet, many of the slaves had no economic means of survival. For years, slaves had only known a subordinate lifestyle, serving a master and living obediently on his land. As freed individuals, these former slaves were forced to provide food and shelter for themselves. Many of these freedmen signed labor contracts and joined into a new system that came to be called sharecropping, a system in which a tenant farmer (usually a freedman) would stay on an individual’s (generally a former slaveholder) land. The tenant would farm the land and pay rent with a portion of the crops he grew. This system of work provided food and shelter for freedmen while also providing a labor source for the former slaveholder who had lost his means of agricultural production.