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Tobacco and Social Structure in Early Virginia

Tobacco was the soul and life of the colony; it was primitive, but made an important form of diversified farming from the start among the small farmers. With the growth of the big plantations in the 18th century, there were small landowners among large planters in the Tidewater area. Usually, they possessed few slaves (if any). The importation of little food indicates that there existed a standard farming system. Tobacco was not the only product of large tobacco plantations. It is indicated by the fact that all of the financial records of the goods of one man’s labor recorded as so many acres of tobacco and others. Low prevailing prices of tobacco would have made the agricultural economy less cost-effective. Agricultural product such as tobacco was new to most of the people, but not to the English settlers at the Johnstown. There was no experience in marketing to draw upon, growing and curing in that century. These difficulties and procedures were tackled by trial and error in Virginia.Tobacco was very popular in early Virginia during the colonial time.

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Discussion

The colony exploited the only reliable export for the benefit of English trade. The policy made the Virginia planter become an agricultural spendthrift. For a long period of time a system of farming depleted his land. The price of land was cheap, which means that fertilization was limited and laborious. Through clearing of trees away, they were able to move south, west, north, and southwest to replace his worn-out land with rich fertile soil, which was suitable to grow tobacco.

There were numerous problems while producing a crop; colonists usually knew little or nothing about this process. They used to handle their racial problems, fed themselves and sustained a stable and confined government, while expanding in limitless wilderness. Through this chaos grew the leader and the other of colonies in America. Tobacco and Social Structure in Early Virginia during the Colonial Time Crop penetrated into the economic, political, and social life of the colony. The owners of the large tobacco plantation could make up the social ladder; men who were in charge of the interests of the colony were the planters and everyone considered tobacco as a remedy.

During 1620, young women, who were sent to become colonists’ wives, paid their servants with tobacco. Representing a certain amount of money served as a currency of the colony after 1730. Development of warehouse hastened urbanization. These warehouses led to development of settlements and villages, some of which have eventually become towns and cities. Fredericksburg, Danville, Clarksville, and others were the major locations for tobacco warehouses. Today, the fragment aroma of cured tobacco is found in a number of these places during the marketing season of growth and leadership. Alexandria, Dumfries, and Norfolk are the major export-import centres that emerged because of the tobacco trade. Virginia gives its respect to John Rolfe and other courageous settlers at Jamestown for the birth, growth, and leadership.

In the middle of the 17th century, young farmers successfully cultivated an acre of tobacco every season and sold it to get the goods they did not have. The crop was exported in large portion to England, where there was already a full-fledged market. Tobacco was the only good traveller with the exception of leakage of the ship, which arrived in condition after a long period at sea. However, crop was labour-intensive activity, which was necessary to skill. Among the advantages of tobacco is that it makes the field more fertile for other food crops to be reproductive. On the other hand, tobacco had its own disadvantages, e.g. pests, diseases and weather conditions that could destroy the crop. It was necessary to have an experienced planter on the field to manage tobacco cultivation. Other workers made crucial decisions all through the growing and curing processes. Labor was another problem and concern for a planter. It initially resolved the importation of European indentured servants, who paid their passages. Another crisis was that its profit was very dependent on foreign market.

Social Structure of Virginia settlements of Massachusetts consisted of English people, who thought that migrating to America would ease the problem of population growth in England, which was already overcrowded by that period of time. Both colonies quested for better lives with green pastures away from Virginia and Massachusetts Colonies: their place started to be unbearable. Most of English Puritans followed protestant teachings of John Calvin, getting with Church of England that perceived to have turned to Catholicism. Social reason for English moving to America was religious freedom. In both Massachusetts and Virginia, Native Americans assisted in the development of colonies, when there were occasions of strife between natives and settlers. Right from the start, it was quite evident that the English came to America to make themselves wealthy. The first English settler was Captain John Smith, who founded Jamestown in 1607. Their economic gain was to motivate the settlement of Virginia. Swampy places were devastated by a persistent shortage of food and widespread of diseases. 

Cultivation of tobacco began in Jamestown, which resulted in a necessity to employ labourer farms during harvest times. In order for farmers to meet a huge demand in labor, the first African slaves were brought to Virginia in 1619. Virginia became a colony of economies, based on cash, crops, and plantation. By 1650, England had already a solid position in America; pilgrims arrived in Plymouth (Massachusetts) in 1620. The primary purpose of driving force in the colonization of New England was religion. Pilgrims meant that the place was to believe to be to God that can be exercised freely. Yet, survival of the colony was more precious. Planting season was shorter, and so was winter. The environment for soil was rocky, making farming more difficult.

Some of the grains such as comas that were approved to be easier to store staved off the hunger of colonist. In addition, the relationship between the natives and settlers were often strained, unlike Virginia’s colony, where there were strong bonds uniting the camps that formed a concept of socioeconomic structure emanated from the introduction of colonialism in America. Colonies of Massachusetts and Virginia became both microcosm and prototype of social structures that were produced by the phenomenon of colonialism. The social structures in Virginia, settled by the slaves from Africa, turned into hierarchical society, where few plantation owners occupied the tip of the economic pyramid. 

Colonies in New England that were less hierarchical, on the other hand, also gave rise to phenomenon of working middle class. Africans, who arrived as slaves, had already suffered terrible months before reaching Virginia. In most cases they used to live in West Africa before they were kidnapped and captured in war by slave traders. Captives were tied together in a long human chain, which they called coffees’ and were forced to walk many miles to a trading fort in coast. Voyages across the Atlantic Ocean called middle passages and were among the most frightening experiences that many enslaved never endured. In case of two to three-week voyages in the cramped hold of slave ships, one out of five slaves died as a result of filthy conditions, mistreatment, and inadequate food. Those who had to survive in the middle passage of Virginia were weak, tired, terrified and sick. Nonetheless, their nightmare did not even after the middle passage was over. After arriving to Virginia, slaves were brought up on deck of a ship and sold. Most of the enslaved people had been separated from their families when sold at the slave market.

Tobacco planters prodded and poked each slave to see if they were in good health condition and strong enough to make very stiff and hard work in the plantation. Once they had been sold, both women and men were put right to work in tobacco plantations. Usually, the activities took place during mid-summer period. During the first year in Virginia, new slaves had gone through the hard ‘seasoning’, which meant that their bodies had to get used to the new climate of that particular place as well as the new diseases. Therefore, many enslaved died due to hunger and different changes within the first year. The slave embarked mostly on oil and plantation, since they were valuable human resource in Virginia, which they were used to make themselves.

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Conclusion

 Because of tobacco being the main crop in Virginia and the source stable wealth to the people, it had its advantage and disadvantages. It was an important crop that ensured that new things were introduced and contributed to appearance of rich merchants that participated in trade. New places grew, leading to urbanization and development of towns, which in turn opened up other big markets. Development of warehouses hastened urbanization; warehouses led to development of settlements and villages, some of which became towns and cities eventually. Fredericksburg, Danville, Clarksville, and others were the major locations for tobacco warehouses. Today, the fragment aroma of cured tobacco is found in these places during the marketing season of growth and leadership. Tobacco was considered as the main crop to the Virginia people, where many of them worked in plantations due to slavery, bad condition and outbreak of dangerous diseases. However, it also led to such transformations as introduction of religion, widening people’s minds, and colonization.