In Virginia, these Africans lived and worked on plantations or small farms where tobacco was the cash crop. I often fell asleep. In January, 1846, with my older brothers I was hired to Judge Applegate, who conducted a tobacco factory at Keytesville, Missouri. . Slavery cannot only be defined by owning another person, but it also is known to be one of the greatest contributions to the history of the United States. In contrast to sugar plantations, which required large slaveholdings that often led to a black population majority, tobacco plantations could operate profitably with smaller numbers of slaves. Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. The slave experience was, then, much more complex than we might initially imagine. Nelson, born into slavery, was not your ordinary person when he made his first appearance in 1821 on a tobacco plantation in Virginia, called the Woodburn Estates. Tobacco has been grown in the Americas for at least two millennia, but European colonization created the conditions for the emergence of cultivators that specialized in large-scale tobacco production. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. https://slaveryinthetobaccoindustry.weebly.com/overview.html . https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/tobacco-plantations, "Tobacco Plantations In colonial times, people from the west coast of Africa were captured and shipped to Virginia and other colonies to work as slaves. By then, American cotton planters, unlike their sugar, rice or tobacco forebears, had no need of a transatlantic slave trade for their supplies of slaves. Slavery was a very important part of … I was punished by the overseer, a Mr. Blankenship, every time he caught me napping, which was quite often during the first few months. In addition to requiring intensive labor, specialized tobacco production also took a toll on the fertility of the soil. I could not keep awake even by putting tobacco in my eyes. These plantations required more labor to meet growth demands, and slaves became the answer. Gad Heuman and James Walvin, the authors of Origins and Development of Slavery in the Americas (2003) have argued: "Tobacco transformed everything. Some Considerations on the Keeping of Negroes I could not keep awake even by putting tobacco in my eyes.". Producing significant quantities of quality tobacco was a difficult enterprise because many things could ruin the crop, including pests, disease, weeds, excessive moisture, and improper packaging. Though half a million Africans had been imported into North America, by the 1860s there was a slave population of almost 4 million. During the Civil War, they were distinct from other cash crops in terms of agricultural demands, trade, slave labor, and plantation culture. Throughout the timeframe of slavery in the United States, the most common crops that were harvested on the plantations were cotton, rice, indigo and tobacco. As tobacco exports boomed, the number of African slaves increased. I was too young then to be kept in such close confinement. Social activities were structured around the tobacco calendar, which meant that there was little slack time in the summer, whereas winter provided more free time for social events such as marriages. In the 17th and 18th centuries, black slaves worked on plantations of the southern coast. Tobacco ignited slavery by creating huge plantations in need for low income workers. I have known them very often, when my master has been away drinking, work all night long, husking Indian corn to put into cribs. In South Carolina, the introduction of rice cultivation (like sugar, hard, unpleasant work in difficult conditions) saw a similar drift to African slave labour. Recipients of letters includes Thomas Booth (d. 1736), the manager of Bristow's lands in Gloucester County, and Frances Willis among others. Subscribe to our Spartacus Newsletter and keep up to date with the latest articles. Gad Heuman and James Walvin, the authors of Origins and Development of Slavery in the Americas (2003) have argued: "Tobacco transformed … Plantation owners imported large numbers of slaves to cultivate it, dry its leaves and pack it to be transported to market. In the western counties, rugged terrain made slavery impractical. The illustration shows a tobacco plantation with manor house and a field in which black slaves harvest tobacco. During the American colonial period, tobacco plantations emerged in a variety of places, from parts of Connecticut and New York in the North, south to the Caribbean colonies of Barbados and Jamaica, and as far west as Spanish Louisiana. When George Washington was a boy, in addition to agricultural workers, plantations had many skilled workers. While the pace of the labor was supervised, the bodily movements of tobacco workers could not be synchronized like they were on sugar plantations, because each plant needed individual attention. They are very destructive to the tobacco crops, and must be carefully picked off by the hands, so as not to break the leaves, which are very easily broken. Reprinted in Early American Writing 13 Jan. 2021 . Between the Civil War and World War I, the United States experienced great economic changes, ultimately emerging as an industrial power. It differed greatly between colonies, between town and country, and especially between crops. It was so prison-like to be compelled to sit during the entire year under a large bench or table filled with tobacco, and tie lugs all day long except during the thirty minutes allowed for breakfast and the same time allowed for dinner. Cotton cultivation requires little to no trained labor, while … Even slaveholders who owned large numbers of slaves tended to settle them in small groups on different parcels of land. My father and mother were left on the plantation; but I was taken to the city of Richmond, to work in a tobacco manufactory, owned by my old master's son William, who had received a special charge from his father to take good care of me, and which charge my new master endeavoured to perform. Gregory acted as book-keeper also to my master, and was much in favour with the merchants of the city and all who knew him; he instructed me how to judge of the qualities of tobacco, and with the view of making me a more proficient judge of that article, he advised me to learn to chew and to smoke which I therefore did. American settlers soon found tobacco to be a profitable export crop. At Judge Applegate's I was kept busy every minute from sunrise to sunset, without being allowed to speak a word to anyone. But while slaves had some control over their bodily movements, they were still watched closely and struggled to moderate the pace of the labor, as is clear from the testimony of escaped slave Lewis Clark, who recalled his experience on a tobacco plantation in Kentucky: When stooping to clear the tobacco-plants from the worms which infest them,—a work which draws most cruelly upon the back,—some of these men would not allow us a moment to rest at the end of the row; but, at the crack of the whip, we were compelled to jump to our places, from row to row, for hours, while the poor back was crying out with torture.
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