Tobacco farming in Jamestown VA
The Indians of Chesapeake grew tobacco which was used in their spiritual ceremonies. The English settlers aimed to sell tobacco in England, although they were unproductive. Tobacco from Virginia had a stronger scent and taste than one grown the West Indies grew, and so consumers preferred a variety which was milder. John Rolfe sowed this tobacco considered to be sweeter in Virginia, and raised a sufficient amount to ship to England. Rolfe’s tobacco sold it at a high price, and tobacco rapidly became Virginia’s main cash crop (Pederson, 2009, p.37). At first, the governors of Virginia dispirited the settlers from tobacco growing simply because they wanted them to grow food. Colonists, who sought riches and not just survival, were not discouraged. They traded tobacco with food from other colonies that were brought by ships
Rolfe’s discovery of Orinoco tobacco which was the West Indies tobacco, could be grown in Virginia saved the colony using the earnings from tobacco farming saved the Jamestown and fueled colonist growth in the country. After a period of time, tobacco became a commercial crop. With the aim of making money in Virginia, it was better to employ new settlers and immigration permitted the growth of tobacco in the colony although mortality rates remained very high (James, 2009, p.93). Colonists required land to practice tobacco farming, and so they started leaving the swampy water areas near the coasts and interior up the James River. The water was cleaner with fewer mosquitoes and less illness as they moved further inland. Due to this movement the mortality rates became fewer.
Un-free labor from indentured servants
The introduction of growing of tobacco gave rise to the need for economical labor so as to maximize profits. Land owners too needed to find people with the ability to work for long, in unbearable hours in the field, but for a very low pay. Colonists first used contractual servants for labor. The Company in Virginia paid for people’s shipping from Virginia to England and vice versa, which was rather costly. Plantation owners in Virginia compensated the company for the cost incurred, and the new immigrants were expected to work for the owners of plantations for a while, which was typically seven years, to clear the debt. Due to high mortality rates, only a minute fraction of servants in the colony’s early years lived for the seven years but many of the plantation owners also passed on (Randy, 2003, p.89). A servant would be free if he or she survived those years of servitude and after this anyone would buy property or anything else that they saw as beyond their means if they made England their home. The hope of owning land in America made the aim of working as slaves for seven years worthwhile.
Most of the women who came to Virginia as contractual servants in the end got married. The number of men out numbered that of women in a ratio of about four to one in Virginia, and therefore wealthy plantation owner could marry a servant. Most female servants were from deprived families, and could never have married “above their post” in England. At the end of the 17th century and beginning of 18th century, slaves happened to become cheap sources of labor for the tobacco growing society. Further Southern settlers became wealthy by growing and selling rice, cotton and indigo. The South Carolina plantations were often modeled on plantations of the Caribbean, yet never got comparable size (Crandall, 2007).
Implication of tobacco farming in Jamestown
There was growth of the Southern colonies mostly in areas like the Province of Georgia, Province of Maryland, Province of Virginia and the Province of North and South Carolina by the end of the 17th century. The colonists’ number was rising. The biggest population centers were remained in the middle colonies and the northeastern, leaving the colonies of, Maryland which are the colonies of the south, north and South Carolina a rural front line land. The economies of these colonies depended on agriculture. During this time the vast plantations were created by colonists who were wealthy and discovered the grand opportunity in the country. Cotton and tobacco were the chief cash crops in those areas and were gladly acknowledged by English buyers. Indigo and Rice were also grown and the products sold to Europe (Historic Jamestown, 2007). The owners of the plantation built an enormous aristocratic living and gathered a lot of wealth. They used slavery for a working taskforce and kept close ties with the circles of the European culture.
The colonists exported cotton, tobacco and textiles and in exchange imported sugar, tea and slaves. These colonies became a major factor since they held up an independent trade relation with Europe and England. After the 17th century, the colonies of north and south economies began to swerve, especially in areas near the coast. The Northern emphasis on production of food contradicted the southern export production. By the mid 18th century, the colonies of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, North and South Carolina were recognized. In the colonies of Virginia, Maryland and some parts of North Carolina the prevailing of tobacco way of life was at maximum.
The Southerners and the Northerners had a conflict between them. This led them to start wars over the conflict of whether to do food farming or do cash crop farming which was the sale of tobacco mostly. Reforms played out in opposition to a background of an economy that was once prosperous and lay in wreck. All through the South, fences were fell, weeds had flooded the fields, windows were broken down, and live stock had vanished. The assessed valuation of property depreciated from 30 to 60 percent in the decade following 1860. In Mobile, business was dormant;
Chattanooga and Nashville were ruined; and Atlanta’s industrial sections were in vestiges. In Charleston, a journalist in September 1865 revealed “a city of ruins, desolation, vacant houses, widowed women, deserted warehouses, and miles of grass-grown streets, acres of pitiful, barrenness, weed-wild gardens, and rotten wharves. 94,000 associates of the army were killed in battle while another 164,000 died of ailment. Those that were injured were 194,000 with an unidentified number of residential deaths. Most warfare took place in Tennessee and Virginia, thus every Southern state was affected as well as Maryland, Kentucky Missouri, West Virginia, and Indian Territory; Pennsylvania remained the only northerner state to be the viewpoint of major exploit, for the duration of the Gettysburg campaign.
The greatest calamity that ever befell Southerners was the mayhem shaped on the transportation system (“A Brief History”, 1998). Roads were not passable while bridges were destroyed and some washed away by water. The main river passage was stagnant because channels, broken levees, the few captured or destroyed and the steam boats were not in good shape. The rail roads too were not in good conditions and other companies were bankrupt. Communication centers like in Atlanta and Colombia were in wrecks. Those areas that have been by passed the battles had been their equipment needed on the battle front lured. The tobacco farming was really affected at this time and the economies of the colonies concerned were affected negatively. During this period of war, the railroad which was located at the rural areas mostly was the passage for the people participating at the battle. The war followed the rails and almost the whole of the South’s rail yards, bridges, rolling stock and repair shops were the areas that the union wars reached. This systematically shattered what was to be formed and what existed (Historic Jamestown, 2007). The Union wars and the Sherman were in about 4400miles and adapted the policy of mass destruction of the rail roads. This act that was done by the wars really affected the growing of the tobacco which was the main cash crop in the colonies. Even in the areas that the war had not reached the absence of new equipment; lack of repair and maintenance; the heavy over use and the movement of the equipment deliberately from rural areas to war zones by the Confederates, assured the system that it would be virtually ruined at war.
In conclusion the, Tobacco farming in the colonies was a great way of surviving since the cash crop was bringing money from and in the country from the exports and sales that were made out and inside the colonies. This was however, affected by the wars that occurred and destroyed the transport and communication systems. The destruction of these systems caused a lot of mayhem in the crop.
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James C. (2009). The Birth of Virginia’s Aristocracy. Boston: Commonwealth Books.
Randy F. (2003). The American Barn. St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishers.
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Historic Jamestown (2007). Tobacco. Colonial Cultivation Methods. nps.gov. Retrieved from
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