Plantation System of the South | victoryawards.us
Feb 8, The growing demand for more farmers initiated the drastic slave trade from England to Africa and to the New World. Click for more facts or. The development of the plantation system. An ideal plantation This sort of thinking allowed the inhumanity of slavery to be dismissed. They thought that if the. Sugar, slavery, and the plantation system. This lecture was about the inter- relationships between labour, forms of production and consumption in an Atlantic .
In andthey settled the islands of St Kitts and Barbados in the Caribbean. In the British took the island of Jamaica from the Spanish. The original idea behind the settlement of the islands was to give land to small European farmers who would grow a variety of crops for export to Europe. At first the farmers grew tobacco and cotton. Sugar soon started to replace these two as the main crop. It was possible to make a good profit from sugar.
PLANTATION SYSTEM OF THE SOUTH
But sugar needed a large amount of land and an investment in machinery to process the crop. So the small farmers were pushed out as farms were bought up to make large plantations for growing sugar. Tobacco and cotton could be grown by a farmer with help from a few farm workers. The local peoples had been all but wiped out by the first European settlers. So farm workers were brought from Europe. Hence rice slaves worked on a "task" system by which each slave was assigned a specific task to complete on his or her own each day.
The higher capital investment required of rice plantations, plus the reduced amount of labor supervision, made rice plantations far more profitable than tobacco plantations. And over the course of the eighteenth century, technological improvements doubled rice's profitability. This was true despite the fact that low-country rice plantations were famously unhealthy for the slaves, who suffered terrible rates of sickness and death and who were barely able to maintain a natural rate of reproduction.
So it was that tobacco, not rice, set the pattern that would be followed by the great nineteenth-century cotton plantations. On tobacco plantations, as on the wheat plantations that replaced many of them in the second half of the eighteenth century, slaves worked in gangs under the direct supervision of the master or his overseer.
Tobacco, unlike rice, required extensive and careful cultivation, and it was this need for direct supervision that explains why tobacco tended to produce smaller plantations than did rice.
2. Rise of the Colonial Plantation System (U.S. National Park Service)
Because tobacco could be grown inland, plantations could expand westward as eastern soils became exhausted. Away from the unhealthy climate of the lowcountry, slaves on tobacco plantations were less sickly, and they were able to achieve a relatively robust rate of natural population increase. Cotton and Sugar Plantations These characteristics of the tobacco plantation economy were reproduced, beginning in the late eighteenth century, on the short-staple cotton plantations for which the antebellum South became famous.
Eli Whitney 's invention of the cotton gin in the s made the growth of the cotton kingdom possible. Spreading first southward from Virginia into the upcountry regions of South Carolina and Georgia, the cotton plantations soon began expanding into Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and finally, Texas. Like their tobacco-producing predecessors, cotton plantations were rationalized business enterprises oriented toward the cultivation of marketable staples sold primarily to the northern and European market.
Slaves were organized in gangs, their work supervised directly by a hierarchy of masters, overseers, and on larger plantations, slave drivers. The cycle of cotton growing made it efficient for planters to cultivate foodstuffs—primarily corn and pork—of sufficient nutrition and in sufficient quantities to maintain a relatively healthy slave labor force.
And because cotton, like tobacco, was not grown in swampy lowlands, the slave population was able to grow on its own, without infusions from the Atlantic slave trade. The natural growth of the slave population was one of the sources of the cotton-plantation economy's profitability. But the growth of the antebellum sugar plantations in southern Louisiana suggests that slave plantations could be profitable even when they were deadly to the slaves.
Even more than rice, sugar plantations required huge capital investments and were therefore most efficient with very large numbers of slave laborers. Because they were established long after Brazilian and Caribbean sugar plantations, Louisiana's sugar plantations benefited from the technological advances of their predecessors.
Thus by investing in the most advanced milling machinery, and by putting larger numbers of slaves to work at an inhumanly grueling pace, the sugar planters of southern Louisiana reaped huge profits from a slave population that actually died off at the rate of nearly 14 percent every decade. Thus the plantation system could be profitable even when it literally killed off its own workers. Indeed, the famed inefficiencies commonly associated with slave—as opposed to free—labor never seemed to appear in the Old South.
A highly efficient interstate slave trade compensated for the absence of a free labor market, moving tens of thousands of slaves across the South every decade; it allowed planters to sell their surplus slaves without difficulty or to purchase more slaves with similar ease. In addition, a highly rationalized pattern of plantation organization kept the slaves busy and productive throughout the year, even in the winter months after the crops had been harvested.
Finally, a network of rivers, roadways, and eventually rail lines moved the cotton swiftly and efficiently from plantation to market, a trade facilitated by an elaborate network of "factors" who served as both middlemen and creditors to the plantation system.
For all of these reasons, cotton plantations thwarted classical political economy's confident predictions of slavery's imminent demise. Instead, cotton plantations flourished, so much so that their relentless expansion farther and farther west helped provoke the sectional crisis that led to the Civil War.
- Plantation System of the South
- Related People
- Browse the slavery collection
Because the Civil War resulted in the death of slavery, it would make sense to terminate the history of the plantation system at the same point. But just as seventeenth-century tobacco plantations flourished with indentured servants rather than slaves, nineteenth-century cotton plantations persisted in the face of slavery's demise.
What changed, of course, was the labor system upon which the plantation economy was based. Once the slaves became free laborers, planters were forced for the first time to negotiate contracts with their former slaves.
As this contract system evolved in the years after the Civil War, cotton planters abandoned the gang system. Native born Virginian slaves were sold at auctions and shipped to cotton plantations in the South. Colonists realized that they needed cheap labor to help work the land. Indentured servants solved that problem.
The Virginia Company of London started this system where poor, white workers could gain free passage to the New World in exchange for working. Their contracts lasted four to seven years and were harsh and restrictive. Contracts could be extended if they tried to run away or if a woman became pregnant. Once their contract expired they were given a freedom package. Very few indentured servants became elite members of colonial society.
The first Africans arrived in Virginia in They were brought to Jamestown onboard the English warship, White Lion. The Portuguese ship was on its way to deliver the Africans to Mexico. At that time in Jamestown there were no slave laws, and African captives were treated like indentured servants and given the same opportunities for freedom as white.
By the mids, the tobacco economy had grown tremendously. As demand grew, so did the cost of indentured servants. Slavery quickly replaced indentured servitude as the preferred source of human labor. Landowners were threatened by the prospect of newly freed servants demanding land.
Enslaved Africans were viewed as a more profitable and renewable source of labor. InVirginia formally recognized slavery.
By law, white indentured servants were forbidden from running away with a black servant. InVirginia passed a law that stated children would be free or bonded based on the status of the mother. This meant that a child born to an enslaved woman would also be enslaved, making slavery hereditary.
Bythe Virginia General Assembly declared that all those not born into Christianity in their native land, would be enslaved for life. Treatment of enslaved Africans varied by time and place. In most cases it was brutal, and abuse was common. Enslaved Africans were not allowed to learn how to read and write.
Sugar, slavery, and the plantation system
At any moment mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters could be sold. Working conditions were harsh. Many enslaved Africans worked from sun up to sun down. Access to adequate food, clothing, and medical attention was limited. Lott Cary was a former slave who became a Baptist minister and lay physician.