African Americans in Economy

With the increasing number of migrants moving to the Southern colonies and a growing number of plantations being set up on the open fields of the South, the need for slaves increased as well. As sugar, tobacco, rice and other resources were wanted by the migrants and owners of the plantations, they imported more and more enslaved Africans to America. Between 1607 and 1775 geographic, economic, and social factors played a big role in the growth of slavery in the Southern colonies and became a very important part of the economy in the Southern colonies.

Not only were there a lot of plantations but there was a lot of vast, open fields along with fertile soil which was great for tobacco, sugar and rice. Southern colonies also had big, slow rivers that were excellent for trade so it was a great money-making area. Most families had at least one slave and the ratios of slaves to owners was about 8:1. Some tobacco planters wanted to increase their work force so they did that by reproduction, encouraging large families and bringing in more women. With a larger work force much more work could be done in little time which meant a lot more money. South Carolina was settled by land hungry whites and brought in as much slaves as they could to produce a continuing large amount of rice and tobacco and because of the slaves the production of rice was outstanding and trade was successful.

Lucrative crops such as tobacco and rice created wealth for the migrants and white planters and to increase their income they wanted more production of their crops. Planters and merchants imported tens of thousands of Africans to work on their plantations but even though they would have enough slaves, slavery kept expanding “not because it was necessary-indeed, white families and English indentured servants could have continued to grow tobacco and could have cultivated rice and sugar as well-but because it was profitable”(85). Exploiting slaves helped earn white planters money but also the Africans,”who knew how to plant, harvest and process that nutritious grain, turned rice into a profitable export crop”(90). When rice was in high demand the African slaves knew how to work fast and what to do and by 1730 there was about 17 million pounds of a rice being sent out a year. African slaves, cheaper than indentured servants, had very few rights, could be disciplined very strictly and there were a lot of them so it was easy to get slaves and they were much easier to control which made economy easy to increase.

So many slaves had come from very different countries that most of them could not communicate with one another because of the language barriers but English merchants and white planters loved that idea because they would not be able to rebel or start an upheaval like the Bacon’s rebellion.

Because Africans were denied education white planters were confident that they would not be able to learn different languages and turn against them, all they could do is work for them and bring in more money. South Carolina was made up of a majority of the enslaved Africans. In South Carolina, Africans contributed their style and dance as well as music. “Their primary legacies were not great works of art or literature but distinctive cultures bases on language, family, community, and religion”(93). The slaves did not have much to offer because of their poverty and dependence which limited their ways of expressing their own identity, but what they did have was very different from the English culture.

Their heritage was filled with wood carvings inspired by African motifs, giant wooden mortars, and pestles that they used to hull rice. The designs of their shacks were also different from the English way because their rooms were often from ront to back not side by side. They regarded eachother as members of a specific people such as Mende, Hausa or Ibo. South Carolina blacks created the Gullah dialect which combined English and African words in an African grammatical structure. Although Africans were suffering daily not getting a single day off, being fed horribly and forced to work as hard as possible, most of them became Christian because having a better afterlife in heaven was very atrractive to the slaves and because they all wanted a better life after they turned to Christianity.

As geographic, economic, and social factors shaped the growing ways of slavery, they became a very important part to the economy in the Southern colonies with the production of rice and tobacco. With the great lands, the white planter’s want for money, and social factors the population of enslaved Africans shot up within a short time period also being beneficial to the economy. Africans played a huge role in the Southern colonies and will continue to do so in the later years.

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