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Chapter 3: The Southern Colonies in the Seventeenth Century, 1601-1700

Lecture to accompany the text The American Promise: A History of the United States, Volume I to 1877

Jason Holloway

on 2 October 2014

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Transcript of Chapter 3: The Southern Colonies in the Seventeenth Century, 1601-1700

Professor Holloway
Chapter 3: The Southern Colonies in the Seventeenth Century, 1601-1700
photo (cc) Malte Sörensen @ flickr
King James I encourages the first settlements in North America to replicate Spanish success.
The Virginia Company is formed and given land by the crown.
What were the early economic hopes of the potential colony?
The colony under company leadership struggles profitless for 2 decades until the crown takes over.
1. An English Colony on Chesapeake Bay
Spain originally has claims on all North America but lack effective settlement.
England in 1588 had defeated the Spanish Armada and plans for colonies to rival and challenge Spain.
What other motivations did the English have to form colonies?
In late 1606 three ships and 144 people leave England for North America.
In early 1607 they arrive in Virginia and are immediately attacked.
Shortly thereafter they found Jamestown on a peninsula in the midst of Powhaten's territory.
Near constant skirmishes occur between the colonists and Native Americans.
What advantages did each side have in the fighting?
Jamestown is greatly endangered by disease and starvation.
Conditions deteriorate with 1/3 dying in the first few months.
Powhaten comes to the rescue starting in September 1607 trading corn to the colonists.
Captain James Smith barely holds thing together and only 38 of 144 people survive the first year.
Relief arrives in the early spring of 1608 though the winter of 1608-1609 is equally as bad for the colonists, only 60 of 500 survive.
What ultimately ensures the final survival of the colony?
Other than occasional conflict and trade there are few interconnections between the colonists and the Native Americans.
Colonists easily resort to violence to ensure trade or 'proper' behavior.
Why do the Native Americans not combine to destroy the colony?
There is great difficulty for the colony due to unproductive nature of its members.
Native American population starts to die quickly.
Enormous changes are placed on their culture too.
When Powhaten dies, Openchancanough replaces him and orders mass assault on the colony in 1622 killing 347 people or 1/3 of the colonists.
Nonetheless colony survives and begins exterminating Native Americans close to the colony.
Thereafter Native Americans are almost always seen as potential threats.
As a result of the raid the crown takes charge of the colony.
What was the royal commission most displeased with that led to the company's revocation?
In 1624 Virginia becomes a royal colony in which the king appoints the governor and his council.
The House of Burgesses, an early representative body, is allowed to continue.
Ultimately the house passes the laws but they must be approved by the governor.
By 1624, 1200 live in the colony, and it is clear that survival is no longer in doubt.
Prior to colonization tobacco grows wildly and is used by the Native Americans.
Gradually Europeans adapt and use it as a cash crop as it moves from a luxury to a mass market.
By 1700, 100,000 people live in the Chesapeake region and farm mostly tobacco.
Tobacco farming created huge demands for labor.
John Rolfe (of Pocahontas fame) plants the first tobacco crop in 1617 and transforms the colony economically.
How was early tobacco planted?
Ultimately colonists come as wages are 2-3 times higher than in England.
Headrights are also used to encourage settlement, what are they?
2. A Tobacco Society
Even with the incentives it is expensive to travel, roughly one year's wages.
In 1619 the first African slaves are brought over but are rare and very expensive.
Indentured servant system develops as a result of the labor crisis and cost of transportation, what was it?
The system is beneficial for the planters as usually they can pay off costs of the servant in just one year.
1/2 die along the way though slightly mitigating profits.
Still planters receive headrights for every servant brought over.
Most servants were men, 3/4, and most were unskilled.
Few women are brought over encouraging a gender imbalance as they cost the same.
Servants of all colors worked closely together.
Laws develop segregating behavior, criminalizing sexual relations etc. amongst races but still not very important.
Servants are viewed almost as property as they are bought, sold, traded amongst the planters.
Severe laws frequently added time to servitude.
Youth are not free until 24.
Women servants could not marry, why?
If a woman servant becomes pregnant then two years are added with a fine.
4 key elements underlined indentured servitude.
1. The hunger for labor leads the planters to exploit servants to the maximum.
2. Servants wish to survive and start their own farms after their servitude ends.
3. There is often conflict between the two sides due to the temporary nature of the contract.
4. Planters ultimately have little alternative at the moment.
Planters options are limited because free labor is uninterested in working for the planters, why?
Families come too little, too late and in too small of numbers for planters.
Slaves are still rare and very expensive throughout the 17th century.
The Virginia colony is very different from New England as there are no small towns everywhere but rather large plantations.
One worker can work 2 acres of tobacco and a few more of food per year.
Only 5-10% of the land is cultivated leaving much land unsettled and unimproved.
Why do many of the farms predominate alongside waterways?
Most colonists belong to the Protestant Church of England and the church enforces outward displays of piousness.
Few clergy emigrate to the colonies however.
Also most colonists are not as involved with religion as the New England colonists were but rather were most concerned with making money on cash crops.
In 1632 Lord Baltimore founds a catholic colony in the North Chesapeake region.
What deal does Lord Baltimore make with the King?
Though intended for Catholics most the colonists are nonetheless Protestant.
Very quickly the new colony becomes essentially indistinguishable from Virginia.
Towards the end of the century inequality led to to greater social conflict causing reforms and increased racial stratification.
All throughout the region tobacco is the main crop.
Until 1650 most settlers were yeoman farmers though plantations exist.
At this point divisions is less rich and poor and more free and unfree laborers.
3 things change.
1. Lower tobacco profits depress hopes of the newly free to purchase land.
2. Lower mortality means more survive, again meaning more pressure on land prices.
3. Lower mortality means more rich planters develop over longer lifetimes.
By 1670 discontent rises quickly.
3. Hierarchy and Inequality in the Chesapeake
Government and politics furthers free/unfree distinctions.
Only free men could vote and 'great men' largely held offices.
Many believed that these people governed for their interests only and not for the greater good.
Rising discontent leads to attempts to stifle civil government.
House of Burgesses is not called for 15 years.
Poor votes are outlawed through land qualifications minimums.
Navigation Acts of 1650 tightened government control, what is good for England is seen as good for all.
Mercantilism takes over economic policy.
Tax on tobacco is equal to the farmer's take.
1/4 of English customs during this period comes from colonial tobacco.
Inequality not really an issue, but biased government is the crux of the matter.
In 1676 Bacon's Rebellion occurs as a result of these feelings.
After further assaults by Opechancanough in 1644, 500 killed, he is hunted down and killed.
Treaties ending the war delineate separate spaces between colonists and Indians further minimizing contacts between the groups.
Rising number of former servants, new colonists, etc. meant that the policy was unworkable.
In 1660s and 70s violence continues to flare up despite attempts by tidewater government to prevent it.
Nathaniel Bacon leads efforts against Native Americans, and rails against the grandees controlling government.
The largest grandees had switched to slaves and owned almost all of them further irritating others.
The Governor proclaims Bacon a rebel and calls elections which backfire when Bacon and his allies are elected.
Bacon's Laws are passed in 1676 limiting political corruption and restoring the previous voting franchise.
Eventually the grandees reassert their authority and have Bacon declared a rebel.
Bacon launches an active rebellion against the government raiding Native American villages, plantations, etc.
Eventually he dies and English reinforcements puts down the revolt.
A Royal commission is sent and reverses Bacon's laws strengthening the grandees' power.
New taxes are imposed to give the government financial independence from the House of Burgesses.
Thereafter tensions lessen as the government realizes it is either a civil war or an indian war.
A small number of measures defuses the situation.
The government lessens control on colonists moving into Native American land.
Tax cuts of 75% occur over the years between 1660-1700.
Most importantly the servant labor system declines.
Fewer servants are arriving from England as conditions improve there.
Also many planters are making a transition to African slavery as the supply increases and costs decrease.
The rich/poor divide is readily eclipsed by a white/black racial divide.
Ultimately Indian labor is unreliable for colonists and as the servant system declines, African slavery increases.
Slavery comes later in North America than in the Caribbean colonies.
Slaves come first in large numbers with settlers from Barbados and settle in the Carolina colony.
4. Towards a Slave Labor System
As English colonies are booming, the Spanish outposts in North America stagnated and were expensive to maintain.
Populations of 3000 and 1500 in New Mexico and Florida require constant resupply.
Large attempts are made to baptize Native Americans by the Spanish, why do they do so?
Missionaries attempt to convert and acculturate Native Americans.
Churches and Missions are built in many different locations.
Coercive measures caused problems ultimately with many near constant revolts.
Big 1680 Pueblo Revolts targets Christian symbols.
Ultimately 2/3 of the Spanish in New Mexico are killed and they are pushed out for a few decades.
They only return to New Mexico by more carefully managing missionary behavior.
In Florida there are less organized forms of resistance but still there is great difficulties for the Spanish there.
In the 17th century Barbados is the top English colony.
Why was Barbados so valuable a colony?
Sugar Planters are 4x wealthier than Tobacco grandees and also owned on average over 100 slaves.
By 1650 slaves are the majority of the population, by 1700 3/4.
Slavery is brutal in the Caribbean, frequent death occurs, little natural reproduction as most are men.
Continual importation is the only allowing the growth of slave populations.
Although slavery is not as big in North America in the 17th century, Caribbean influences would bring it there shortly thereafter.
First colonists of the Carolina colony come from Barbados and plan to plant a new cash crop.
Philosopher John Locke devises the constitution of the colony that envisions a landed aristocracy supported by enslaved laborers.
In 1670 Charleston is founded and the colony is the first largely peopled by colonists from other colonies.
Barbadians brought slaves with them, 1/4 of the first settlers are slaves, and later 1/2 of the population is enslaved by 1700.
Indigo and Rice are the principal early exports but not as successful yet.
The colony of Carolina is essentially an outpost of the West Indies not the Chesapeake region.
In 1700 80% of English colonists in North America live in the Chesapeake region.
1/8 are slaves by 1700, which is a huge change in just 30 years.
Only the elite planters could afford slaves.
Planters saw a number of benefits in buying slaves by this period.
Slaves costs 3-5 times more but are never free.
Lower mortality rates means slaves live longer too.
A perpetual labor force exists as slaves birth other slaves.
Slaves can be easily politically controlled.
Color is a easily distinguishable badge of bondage.
Free/Slave divide now corresponds with a white/black divide.
Privileges of being free meant that poor whites support and uphold the slave system.
Tensions are greatly reduced amongst whites.
Slavery in North America is more interactive with owners than in the Caribbean.
Due to smaller population of slaves in relation to free people, slave insurrections are not common.
Ultimately slavery solved some old problems but created many new ones.
Slavery becomes the dominant political issue in the cash crop colonies.
In general the Southern colonies occupied a middle ground between the other English colonies in New England and those in the Caribbean.
By 1700 the colonies of Virginia, Maryland, and Carolina are established.
What features characterized these colonies?
How did English colonies in North America and New Spain differ?
How did Native Americans negotiate this period of the establishment of English colonies?
How were the Southern colonies structured economically?
Ultimately thousands emigrate to the Southern colonies for a variety of reasons establishing an enduring legacy that persists to the present day.
5. Conclusion: The Growth of English Colonies Based on Export Crops and Slave Labor
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