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  1. Uncle Billy
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Uncle Billy

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Illustrates the standard woes of a sharecropper after the Civil War; found in Negro Folk Songs, collected by Natalie Curtis-Burlin, therein called "Cotton-Pickin' Song."


One twentieth of May morning, under that barnyard tree,
Them Yankees read them papers, and set the poor slave free.

I been workin' in a contract, ever since that day,
And just found out this mornin' why it didn't pay.

I told boss this year I try hit once more,
He counted off this cotton, took every other row.

When boss sold the cotton, I ask for my half,
He told me I chopped out my half with the grass.

Boss says, "Uncle Billy, I think you done well,
To pay your debts with cotton, and have your seeds to sell."

Well I sold them seeds for five cents a peck,
And bought this red hankerchief, you see around my neck.

Hurry up, children, it's time we been gone,
This weather look so cloudy—I think it's gonna storm.