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Aug_28_Notes - History Notes Colonial Life Continued 2...

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History Notes – 8/28/08 Colonial Life Continued .... 2. Economic System Agriculture is the basis of American basis (remained as such until the 20 th century) Agriculture in the colonial world depended on the search for a staple prop (Something to be grown and cultivated over a wide area – something that can be stored for transportation for a significant period of time – something for which there is a substantial demand). There are three major Colonial staple crops: Tobacco – started in virginia and can be grown almost anywhere and can be stored forever. There was a healthy appetite for it. Rice – already been a main crop in the British West Indies, it is more limited in that it cannot be grown in as many locales. Indigo – product was used to create the blue dye. COTTON DOES NOT UNEXIST YET – IT IS NOT A STAPLE CROP. The development for staple crops (particularly in the south), led to a desire to move westward for more land. Tobacco especially so, because it ruined fields...and so instead of alternating fields it was just easier to move elsewhere when the field went bad. It also led to the “Plantation Method”, the idea that you need more and more land led to the establishment of the Plantation (thousands of acres). Large scale agriculture – more efficient. Land requires labor. The more land, the more labor. And tobacco is a very labor intensive crop. This need is filled by slaves. As the colonies become more and more dependent on agriculture, slavery intensified. It was more efficient then indentured servants over and over. As you move further up the coastal area, the fertility of the soil began to decline. In the middle colonies, Livestock sometimes picked up the slack.
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