Early American History
Life in the British Colonies
southern colonies
Key Concepts
Once tobacco was grown in the Colonies, plantations became very important to the economy of the southern colonies. Plantations also grew other cash crops like rice, and indigo.

The first plantations were usually built along a river. The river was used as a highway to transport crops to market, and goods to the plantation. Plantations on a river had their own dock for loading and unloading boats. Plantations that were not on a river were connected by roads to another plantation.

The main building of the plantation was the planter's house. Servants and
slaves lived near by in small buildings. Kitchens were usually in a separate building because of the danger of fire. Crops were stored in sheds, and the livestock were kept in barns. Plantations were self-sufficient. Each plantation had its own blacksmith's shop, and laundry.

Money was rarely used in the Southern Colonies. Instead, crops were traded. Crop buyers traveled up and down southern waterways with their boats filled with British made goods. Planters would trade their tobacco, rice and indigo for shoes, lace, thread, farm tools and dishes.

Very large plantations did not sell their own crops. Planters of very large
plantations sold their crops through a broker in Britain. A broker is a person who is paid to buy and sell for someone else. Planters sent their crops to Britain with a list of things they wanted the broker to buy for them. The broker sold the crops, bought what the planter wanted, and then sent the goods back to the colonies.
A Southern Plantation
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Additional Information
planter's house - The family of the plantation owner lived in a great house
with many rooms and many servants. The house was usually built of brick
and had a long lawn that led to the river.

self-sufficient - Most plantations had a smokehouse for smoking meat. Smoking meat preserved the meat, since there were no refrigerators. The cooper made barrels. Tobacco was packed in barrels called "hogsheads." To keep everyone fed, the plantation grew its own vegetables, corn, and wheat. It also raised its own livestock for the planter's family.

small buildings - Slaves lived in cabins built near the fields. Big plantations sometimes had 200 or more slaves. The cabins were shacks. The slave cabins were only as good as the materials the slaves were given to use. They had dirt floors and no water. All the slaves shared the same outdoor pump.