AMERICAN PAGEANT - CHAPTER 4 - Chapter Four American Life...

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Chapter Four: American Life in the Seventeenth Century (1607 - 1692) The Unhealthy Chesapeake "Nasty, brutish, short." o Malaria, dysentery, typhoid. ½ of people born in early Virginia & Maryland did not live to be 20. Few of the remaining ½ lived to be 50 if male or 40 if female. Settlements grew slowly through immigration, not reproduction. Native-born inhabitants eventually acquired immunity to the killer diseases and by the end of the 17 th century the population of the Chesapeake was growing due to reproduction. The Tobacco Economy Immensely hospitable to tobacco cultivation. Some people planted tobacco to sell before corn to eat. Seeking land, immigrants pushed farther up river valleys, provoking Indian attacks. Ships annually hauled 1.5 million lbs of tobacco out of Chesapeake Bay by the 1630s and 40 million annually by the end of the century. Enormous production lowered prices but farmers tried to counter this by growing more and brought more tobacco to market. More tobacco meant more labor: o Slaves too expensive. o Families too slow. o So they turned to indentured servants who worked for transatlantic passage and eventual "freedom dues" such as a barrel of corn, a suit of clothes and maybe some land. A Virginia/Maryland Law – whoever paid the passage of a laborer received the right to acquire 50 acres of land. Ravenous for land and labor, Chesapeake planters brought some 100,000 indentured servants to the area by 1700. These servants represented more than ¾ of all European th century. As land became scarcer, masters became more resistant to including land in freedom dues and the servants' lives became harder as the 17 th century wore on. Misbehaving servants might be punished with extended service and even after freedom many penniless workers were forced to remain in the employ of their former master for low wages to get by. Frustrated Freemen and Bacon's Rebellion Freemen were frustrated by lack of land & lack of marriage prospects. Virginia Assembly in 1670 prevented many of the landless freemen from voting. In 1676, about 1000 Virginians broke out of control, led by a planter, Nathaniel Bacon . Many of them were frontiersmen who had been forced into the backcountry to find land and resented Governor William Berkeley 's friendly policies towards Indians, whose thriving fur trade the governor monopolized. When Berkeley refused to retaliate for a series of savage Indian attacks on frontier settlements, Bacon and his followers killed many Indians, chased Berkeley from Jamestown, and set fire to the capital. Chaos swept Virginia as freemen and servants went on a rampage.
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AMERICAN PAGEANT - CHAPTER 4 - Chapter Four American Life...

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