Plantation Agriculture

In the Southern coastal areas, large plantations grew up around the increasingly important and successful tobacco crop. Prior to its introduction in Virginia, all tobacco for English or European markets came from the Caribbean. In 1612, John Rolfe learned how to farm and cure tobacco, and it wasn’t long before it was available for trade with England and Europe. In fact, by 1619, most of the nearly 1,000 colonists of Virginia were making their living producing, manufacturing, or transporting tobacco. Jamestown, catching the tobacco fever, even grew it in the streets. In order to control quantity and quality, however, regulations were imposed. Poorer quality tobacco, called mean tobacco was burned to keep it off the market, while individuals were limited to the amount they could grow. In 1621, Governor Wyatt limited each family to 1,000 plants per person. In 1730, Virginia passed an Inspection Act that further regulated the grading, packing, and marketing of tobacco. The quantity of tobacco being grown for export increased dramatically after its introduction in the colonies. In 1628, Virginia exported approximately 550,000 pounds of tobacco to England; in 1688, 18 million pounds were exported. This growth spurred the need for more labor, and this in turn spurred the spread of slavery into North America. The widespread use of African labor during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries on sugar plantations in the Caribbean soon provided a model for European colonists in North America. The Spanish had already brought more than 100,000 slaves into Mexico during the sixteenth century. The English, slower than the Spanish to turn to slavery as a means of solving their labor problem, began to import Africans in 1619 first as free and bonded servants. But by 1663, the Royal African Company was established, and the slave trade was underway. With the introduction of slaves, the tobacco industry grew rapidly. Slaves provided a cheap and enormous labor pool. Interestingly, Thomas Jefferson opposed the planters’ emphasis on tobacco and tried to encourage greater crop diversification and cultivation, believing it was the key to a more sustainable agricultural foundation. In addition, a headright system granted planters the right to claim more land for each laborer they brought into the country, whether free or slave. The first slaves, many imported from the West Indies in exchange for hogs or cattle, also knew about the cultivation of rice. Rice had been a common staple in West Africa but was unfamiliar to Europeans. With its introduction, however, plantation agriculture expanded from the coastal areas into more inland regions. Rice soon became the most important agricultural crop in South Carolina and Georgia. By 1726, planters exported 10 million pounds of rice per year. Its production peaked in 1770, when 84 million pounds were exported. Because rice plantations were large, the enslavement of 50 to 100 Africans was common. In addition, Africans proved to have a greater resistance to malaria and yellow fever than Europeans, although they were not totally immune. A new crop, indigo first introduced by Eliza Lucas in 1739 became a new production crop in many areas of the South. Though it depended on slave labor, it did not require as many slaves, and thus, it offered planters an economical alternative to rice. In contrast to other parts of the South, Florida remained a Spanish colony. Historical records indicate that oranges and wheat were cultivated and became important exports to the British colonies. Olive oil and wine were also exchanged for commodities the Spanish needed. This agricultural development contributed to the economic and cultural independence of Spanish Florida. Agriculture in The World: Plantation Agriculture alltravel8Plantation Agriculture Museum (Scott, AR): Address, Phone Number … alltravel8Plantation – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia alltravel8

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