The postwar South remained overwhelmingly agricultural. The implements of work were the same as before the war, but relations between planters, laborers, and merchants had changed forever.
As under slavery, most rural blacks worked on land owned by whites. But they now exercised control over their personal lives, could come and go as they pleased, and determined which members of the family worked in the fields.
In early Reconstruction, many black women, seeking to devote more time to their families, sought to withdraw from field labor, a decision strongly resisted by plantation owners.
Children, whose labor had been dictated by the owner under slavery, now attended school.