In this section, you will learn how the economy of the Southern Colonies began to depend on slave labor.

The Plantation Economy; The Turn to Slavery

The Southern Colonies: Plantations and Slavery

The South’s soil and almost year-round growing season were ideal for plantation crops such as rice and tobacco. These crops required much labor to produce. However, with enough labor, planters could grow them as cash crops.

Starting in the 1660s, planters began using more enslaved Africans on their plantations. There were several reasons for this change. One reason was that indentured servants were leaving plantations to start their own farms. Another reason was that planters were not successful when they tried to force Native Americans to work on the plantations. As a result of the turn to slavery, the population of

enslaved Africans grew rapidly. By 1750, enslaved Africans made up about 40 percent of the South’s population.

1. Why was the South a good place to grow plantation crops?

The Southern Colonies: Plantations and Slavery

The South’s soil and almost year-round growing season were ideal for plantation crops such as rice and tobacco. These crops required much labor to produce. However, with enough labor, planters could grow them as cash crops.

Starting in the 1660s, planters began using more enslaved Africans on their plantations. There were several reasons for this change. One reason was that indentured servants were leaving plantations to start their own farms. Another reason was that planters were not successful when they tried to force Native Americans to work on the plantations. As a result of the turn to slavery, the population of

enslaved Africans grew rapidly. By 1750, enslaved Africans made up about 40 percent of the South’s population.

2. What factors led planters to use the labor of enslaved Africans?

Plantations Expand (page 121)

The increased use of slavery allowed plantations to expand in South Carolina and Georgia. The growing of rice in the lowlands of these colonies required

much labor and skill. Planters bought slaves from West Africa who had those skills.

On higher ground, planters grew indigo, a plant that yields a deep blue dye. Eliza Lucas introduced indigo as a successful plantation crop. Lucas’s father had sent her to run his South Carolina plantation when she was 17 years old.

3. What were two plantation crops grown in South Carolina and Georgia?

Plantations Expand (page 121)

The increased use of slavery allowed plantations to expand in South Carolina and Georgia. The growing of rice in the lowlands of these colonies required

much labor and skill. Planters bought slaves from West Africa who had those skills.

On higher ground, planters grew indigo, a plant that yields a deep blue dye. Eliza Lucas introduced indigo as a successful plantation crop. Lucas’s father had sent her to run his South Carolina plantation when she was 17 years old.

4. How did slavery affect the plantation economy?

The Planter Class (pages 121–122)

The turn to slavery made the owners of plantations with a large number of slaves even wealthier. This planter class was only a small part of the total population. Even so, it held most of the political and economic power in the South.

William Byrd II was one of the most famous Southern planters. His family owned a large estate in Virginia, and he eventually held political office in the colony. But Byrd was also a great writer. His account of a trip to create a dividing line between North Carolina and Virginia is his best known work.

5. Who held most of the political and economic power in the South?

The Planter Class (pages 121–122)

The turn to slavery made the owners of plantations with a large number of slaves even wealthier. This planter class was only a small part of the total population. Even so, it held most of the political and economic power in the South.

William Byrd II was one of the most famous Southern planters. His family owned a large estate in Virginia, and he eventually held political office in the colony. But Byrd was also a great writer. His account of a trip to create a dividing line between North Carolina and Virginia is his best known work.

6. What was the planter class?

Life Under Slavery (page 122)

On large Southern plantations, slaves worked in groups of about 20 to 25. Planters hired overseers to watch over and direct the work of slaves. The overseer often whipped slaves who he thought were not doing their full share of work.

Slaves usually lived in small, one-room cabins furnished only with sleeping cots. Typical food for a week might be a small basket of corn and a pound of pork. In spite of these brutal conditions, Africans kept many customs and beliefs from their homelands.

These customs and beliefs became the basis of African-American culture.

7. On what was African-American culture based?

Life Under Slavery (page 122)

On large Southern plantations, slaves worked in groups of about 20 to 25. Planters hired overseers to watch over and direct the work of slaves. The overseer often whipped slaves who he thought were not doing their full share of work.

Slaves usually lived in small, one-room cabins furnished only with sleeping cots. Typical food for a week might be a small basket of corn and a pound of pork. In spite of these brutal conditions, Africans kept many customs and beliefs from their homelands.

These customs and beliefs became the basis of African-American culture.

8. How did slaves live?

Resistance to Slavery (pages 122–123)

Africans fought against their enslavement in several ways. They sometimes worked slowly on purpose, damaged goods, or pretended not to understand orders.

Other times they rose up in open rebellion. One famous example was the Stono Rebellion. In September of 1739, about 20 slaves gathered at the Stono River just

south of Charles Town. They killed several planter families and marched south, beating drums and inviting other slaves to join them. A white militia later caught

up with the escaped slaves. Many slaves were killed in the clash. Those who were captured were executed.

Rebellions such as the Stono Rebellion led planters to make slave laws even stricter. Slaves were forbidden to leave a plantation without permission, and slaves were not allowed to meet with free blacks.

9. How did Africans resist their enslavement?

Resistance to Slavery (pages 122–123)

Africans fought against their enslavement in several ways. They sometimes worked slowly on purpose, damaged goods, or pretended not to understand orders.

Other times they rose up in open rebellion. One famous example was the Stono Rebellion. In September of 1739, about 20 slaves gathered at the Stono River just

south of Charles Town. They killed several planter families and marched south, beating drums and inviting other slaves to join them. A white militia later caught

up with the escaped slaves. Many slaves were killed in the clash. Those who were captured were executed.

Rebellions such as the Stono Rebellion led planters to make slave laws even stricter. Slaves were forbidden to leave a plantation without permission, and slaves were not allowed to meet with free blacks.

10. How did the Stono Rebellion affect slave laws?