The Rise of Plantation Economies

Plantation Slavery

Slavery life on the Plantation

Many aspects contributed to the development of plantation based slave system in the Americas such as tobacco, cotton, mules, and sugar.

Tobacco cultivation

The increase of tobacco growers in Virginia and surrounding areas led to an increase in labor needs, which led to the first transport of slaves from Africa to the plantations of America.


Picking Cotton, U.S. South, 1850s


This image is titled Carts with Hogsheads of Sugar, British West Indies, 1840s.

The increase in the mule population from Sao Paulo provided neighboring farmers the ability to expand farther into new areas, which made the need for new workers, in others words more slaves.

Mules were important to the growing internal transportation system, as it raised in the interior of Sao Paulo, which began to amplify in population through the eighteenth century, providing surrounding farmers with markets requiring substantial labor inputs. Causing the increase in slavery to surrounding farmers.


Increased production of sugar meant a need for large free labor source. Once the French Caribbean Colonies were controlled by large sugar plantations most of the population were African slaves. Unlike the Spanish Caribbean there were no native population to enslave. Acquiring legal freedom was almost impossible. There weren’t any laws allowing ones eventual freedom, unlike the indentured white slave of the past. The image is titled, Working in Sugar Cane Fields, 19th cent, there are slaves and Master’s on the plantation watching over the labor in process. Sugar cane plantations were the engine of the slave trade that brought millions of African slaves to the Americas beginning in the 16th century. The history of the nations in the Caribbean, the Southern United States, and most of South Africa were fashioned by sugar plantations and the revenue of cash crop were extremely meaningful

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The Portuguese were extremely skilled at building and sailing ships. Their keen navigational skills led them further into the Atlantic which began the discovery in conquering of small islands such as Maderia and San Tome. These small Islands became the first African slave ran sugar plantations. The Portuguese had little interest in the African interior, they did however establish many trading factors along the coast of the Indian Ocean. These new post were opened up mainly for trading slaves, gold, ivory and other product.


In conclusion plantation slavery was used for many reason such as cotton, sugar, and tobacco.


Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1979. Print.

Bergad, Laird W. The Comparative Histories of Slavery In Brazil, Cuba, and United States. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2007. Print.

Berlin, Ira. Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America. Web. Jan.-Feb. 2015/2016.

Fleischner, Jennifer. Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly: The Remarkable Story of the Friendship between a First Lady and a Former Slave. New York: Broadway, 2003. Print.

Klein, Herbert S., and Ben Vinson. African Slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean. New York: Oxford UP, 2007. Print.

Harper's New Monthly Magazine (1853-54), vol. 8, p. 456. (Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library)