Dogtrot Cabin in ~ Belle Mont PlantationPlantation farming was a type of large-scale farming that was many prevalent throughout the colonial and also antebellum periods of American history. Plantations typically ranged from roughly 500 come 1,000 or more acres that land and also produced one or two crops—and occasionally livestock—for sale. In antebellum Alabama, the primary crop on together plantations to be the short-staple variety of cotton. Plantations required a large, secure work force that initially included indentured servants but eventually shifted virtually entirely to slave labor. Cotton plantations existed in countless parts the Alabama, but the vast majority were located in the black Belt region. Those plantations that raised livestock were located greatly in the southern piney woods area, a an ar in the lower third of the state recognized for the great numbers of indigenous long-leaf jaw trees.
This type of farming had its beginnings in the latifundia the the old Roman world, which were large farms, own by the wealthy, that offered slave or paid job to flourish crops and also livestock because that sale. During the early american period, plantation farming existed in several regions of the unified States—for example, the Hudson river valley of new York—but this form of agriculture eventually ended up being synonymous through the South. During the beforehand seventeenth century, English colonists in the southern part of north America began looking for ways to produce goods or raise plants that can
Bride"s Hill, Lawrence Countythen be marketed for a profit in England or Europe. Homesteaders experimented with production glass, increasing mulberry trees to assistance silk worms because that making silk, cultivation grapes because that wine production, and harvesting trees for timber. The native American tobacco plant, however, quickly emerged as the chop that offered the biggest potential because that profitability. Tobacco gift problems, in that its cultivation required thousands of acres that land, and also the plant easily drained the soil of nutrients. Together tobacco fields became unusable, new acreage had actually to it is in cleared. Eventually, after virtually two centuries during the colonial period, lot of the land in the Chesapeake an ar of Virginia, Delaware, and also Maryland became unproductive. Together a result, created planters and brand-new immigrants increasingly looked come the South and West for brand-new opportunities.
Tobacco plantations also needed a big labor pressure to have tendency the fields and also harvest and prepare the crop for market. At first, colonists used indentured servants, that were civilization of either European or african descent who operated on mean from four to seven years without pay in exchange for your passage to the English colonies. Through the eighteenth century, however, owner of big plantations uncovered it more rewarding to acquisition African slaves, that they would own and use for labor for your lifetime. As Europeans started settling in the Carolinas and also Georgia in the late seventeenth and also early eighteenth centuries, they started experimenting with increasing rice, indigo (used in making dye), and—to a restricted degree—long-staple cotton for the market, all of which also required comprehensive acreage and also labor. Thus, the very first two century of European settlement in the southern component of north American firmly created the meaning of a plantation: a very large farm that used slave labor to produce a commodity because that export.
When europe American settlers began pouring into the area now well-known as Alabama in the early nineteenth century, many lugged slaves and also sought soil that could support massive production of a marketable crop. The long-staple cotton created in seaside Georgia and the Carolinas did not prosper well in Alabama, and also neither walk rice, indigo, sugar cane, or tobacco. The short-staple variety of cotton, however, did fare well in big portions the the state. V the cotton sector driven through the Industrial revolution and boosted by the innovation of the cotton gin, which made handling the cotton lot easier and faster, short-staple cotton ended up being synonymous with Alabama plantations. In addition, vast amounts of brand-new land opened up come thousands of settlers seeking to grow cotton in Alabama when indigenous Americans were required from their genealogical territories ~ a series of conflicts and also treaties through the united States.

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The more quickly plantations in Alabama were almost always established along rivers to make it simpler to transport big bales of raw cotton, every of which can weigh number of hundred pounds or more. Transporting large cotton bales on rivers was the most practical an approach as it was faster and less expensive come move hefty freight on watercrafts than in wagons on turbulent roads. Various types of
Steamboat in Mobile, ca. 1890large boats carrying noodle were a typical sight along Alabama"s navigable rivers throughout the antebellum period; together a result, small towns that served as receiving depots because that cotton also developed follow me the rivers. The Alabama river was greatly used, especially after steamboats started navigating the in 1820, due to the fact that it flowed into the harbor of Mobile. Indigenous there, cotton made its means to textile factory in brand-new England or to ports in Europe. As prime cotton lands adjoining rivers became dotted v plantations, however, inhabitants moved further inland from the rivers onto cotton-producing soil in the state"s interior.
Alabama"s black Belt region, i m sorry stretches across the center of the state indigenous the Mississippi border come the Georgia border, ended up being synonymous v plantations, cotton, and also slavery. In ~ the outbreak of the polite War, few of the state"s largest cotton plantations—with thousands of acres of fertile land and much more than 250 slaves—each were located in this region.
Cotton production reigned can be fried in the state prior to the polite War. According to the 1850 Census, the state created 564,429 bales that year and 989,955 bales through 1860. Plantation owners rotated the noodle crop among several fields to permit some to lie fallow and also replenish their soil nutrients.
Because massive cotton production compelled a significant amount the labor, the number of slaves in the state grew from 47,449 in 1820 come 435,080 through 1860. Many of this enslaved Alabamians functioned in noodle production, but numerous plantations had actually fewer than 20 slaves working the land. Most slaves on noodle plantations in Alabama functioned under the corridor system, which meant they operated at planting, weeding, or picking noodle all day long under the direction of a "driver," who operated under an overseer. Slaves generally operated from sunrise to sunset and received only short breaks from their work. Failure to job-related at a secure pace can lead to punishment. Servants on plantations regularly maintained a sense of community with one another and fostered lasting relationships v family, friends, and also religion that aided them endure the oppressive and also often brutal job system.
Kitchen Garden in ~ Robinson-Dilworth PlantationPlantations, which were often plenty of miles far from the nearest town or city, regularly had to develop for themselves lot of what was needed for day-to-day operations. Owners detailed housing for slaves, ran a big kitchen for feeding the plantation"s dependents, kept gardens for increasing fruits and vegetables, and also kept livestock such together chickens and also dairy cattle. The larger plantations frequently had a blacksmith to fix machinery and also infirmaries to treatment for the sick. The common slave cabin measure up 12 by 14 feet and also housed number of people; yet the usual planters" residence was frequently a much larger structure consist of of at least four big rooms be separated by a central hallway.
In addition to exercising supreme authority on the plantation itself, plantation owners typically wielded an excellent power within their communities. Often these guys (women right now were prohibited from voting and holding windy office) regulated government not just on the regional level but likewise the state and national level. In one era when much less than 25 percent of the southern white populace owned any slaves, plantation owner who grew 1,000 or more acres with plenty of slaves exercised a disproportionate level of power in antebellum southerly life.
Because land, slaves, and also cotton identified who the elite were in Alabama, the region"s plantation owners became very concerned when abolitionists began discussing the abolishment the slavery. If the national federal government outlawed slavery, countless plantation owner feared that they would certainly no longer have the ability to maintain their lucrative way the life. And also with their source of wide range eliminated, they would lose power. Therefore, after ~ Abraham Lincoln—who made that clear that he did not want slavery expanded any type of further into the unified States—won the 1860 presidential race, plenty of plantation owners supported seceding indigenous the united States and also forming the Confederate states of America.
Because wide range was measure up in land, slaves, and livestock, it to be not unusual for planters to reinvest cotton earnings in an ext land and more slaves. Yet doing so could have a an unfavorable effect ~ above the commodity"s price, together a an excellent harvest ultimately can lead to an ext cotton start the market, hence driving down the price. Part plantations in the state focused on raising cattle, quite than cotton, for the commercial market, although noodle plantations were quickly most numerous. Livestock producers can be uncovered in all areas of the state, however some uncovered the southern piney woods particularly conducive to elevating cattle, provided the mild winters there. For example, the 1850 Census lists man Barrow the Covington County together raising an ext than 360 head of cattle on a 700-acre plantation. In enhancement to cattle, he elevated a couple of sheep and hogs. The 1850 Census additionally lists two smaller sized operations in Washington County, one run by Peter Laker through 417 head of cattle and also the various other by man Dearmon v 250. Cattle raised in the southern part of the state were thrust to Mobile for slaughter and also processing.
Because plantation farming was so carefully intertwined v slavery, the is practically impossible to talk about one without the other. For this reason, some historians assert that plantation farming ended once the Thirteenth Amendment come the constitution outlawed slavery. In fact, ranches that created one or two major crops for export continued to prosper in Alabama and also the southern after the Civil war ended. Whereas huge farms in the state created ever-increasing amounts of cotton after 1870, one have the right to argue that plantation agriculture ended in Alabama after ~ the united States defeated the Confederacy in the civil War.
Sharecropper"s residence in Dallas CountyAlthough slavery finished in 1865, another kind of labor replaced it i m sorry in some methods proved comparable to it. Many freed afri Americans returned to plantations to job-related as tenant farmers that rented land native white owners and many functioned as sharecroppers who received component of the chop instead the wages. Both tenant farmers and sharecroppers increased cotton, livestock, and also other farming products. Even so, it took plenty of decades because that Alabama cotton production to with pre-war levels. Not until the 1890s would certainly the state produce as much cotton as it walk in 1860.
Blevins, Brooks. Cattle in the cotton Fields: A history of livestock Raising in Alabama. Tuscaloosa: university of Alabama Press, 1998.
Scarborough, Edwin Kaufman. Masters that the large House: elite Slaveholders of the Mid-Nineteenth Century South. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State university Press, 2003.

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Woodman, Harold G. King Cotton and His Retainers: Financing and also Marketing the Cotton chop of the South, 1800-1925. Lexington: university of Kentucky Press, 1968.