Tobacco 16th Century

Published: 2021-09-25 12:35:02
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Category: Tobacco, 16th Century

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Tobacco in the sixteenth century What is tobacco? The definition of tobacco is leaves of the tobacco plant dried and prepared for smoking or ingestion. For the English settlers in Chesapeake tobacco was there way of surviving. During the sixteenth century a man planted tobacco in Virginia for the first time and found it took well to the climate. Once the tobacco started growing it needed much attention and great care by hand. Workers were needed around the clock to tend to the crops. The settlers realized that tobacco could be there way to riches.
The growing of tobacco not only helped the English settlers but also the English monarchy, ships men, and merchants. In 1612 John Rolfe planted seeds of tobacco plants that had been found originally in the West Indies and Venezuela. The plants grew very well and he started to experiment with methods of curing the leaf further enhancing its flavor. Rolfe sent his first shipment of tobacco to London in 1614. After this it became clear to settlers that they could make a fortune in Virginia by growing tobacco. In 1617 the colonists made their first commercial shipment to England.
When the shipments first arrived they product was hardly known but Sir Walter Releigh Helped to make tobacco smoking popular among the English. At first tobacco was sold at a very high price were only the wealthy could partake, but once the English colonist began to grow and ship an abundance of tobacco the price became much lower and tobacco was an indulgence for many. The shipping of tobacco to England saved the Jamestown settlement. Before growing tobacco they couldn’t even grow enough corn to feed themselves.



Once the colonist started growing tobacco it became very clear to them that it could be the road to a fortune. The revenue coming in from exporting tobacco kept Chesapeake alive and growing. The king saw all the wealth being made and so he put a tax on importing tobacco giving him a major financial interest. In the end the exporting of tobacco provided a livelihood for many, a fortune for a few, and valuable revenue for ships men, merchants, and the English monarchy. In order to make all the tobacco they shipped to England to gain their wealth the tobacco plantations needed workers.
A hired man working on tobacco plantations could make two or three times more in Virginia than in England. Most of the workers on the plantation were indentured servants. These people have their trip to Virginia paid for by someone else then pay the person back by working in the tobacco fields for four to five years. The indentured servants were mostly young, male, and had no skills in the job force. They were thrown on a field and told what to do. Growing tobacco is a very time consuming job. First the fields had to be cleared by hand.
Like the Indians the colonist “clered” fields by cutting a ring of bark from each tree, this was called girdling, killing the tree. Then colonist would use heavy hoes to till the fields. Holes were then made with sticks and the tobacco seed was placed in each hole. Once the plants matured they were cut down and thrown in a pile to wilt. After the leaves dried a little in the piles they were striped from the stock of the plant and suspended from poles in drying barns or just out in the fields. Last after the leaves were dry, they were seasoned, packed up in casks, and shipped off.
During all of this work the men, women, boys, and girls from the age seven and up would smoke tobacco in order to pass the time. As farming went on the owners of the fields’ realized that the indentured servants were hard to control and would soon be free of their contract to them. They first found ways to add time to their contract but found it hard and people were living through their time served. So Between 1670 and 1700 the Chesapeake tobacco plantations discovered slavery and slowly made the transition from servant to slave fixing the problem for the moment.
Just when the colonists of Chesapeake thought they would be starving and have no money for the rest of their being John Rolfe showed up and planted tobacco seeds. The seeds grow well and the colonist learned how to make money from all the hard work they were putting forth. They also found cheap ways of getting workers. Pay for an indentured servant and have them work for up to 7 or 10 years or have slave that don’t ever leave the plantation. The tobacco business thrived for everyone entangled in it.
Over thirty-million pounds of tobacco was exported from Virginia to England helping make Chesapeake thrive as a colony. Bibliography The Old Dominion in the Seventeenth Century: A Documentary History of Virginia, 1606-1700 / Edition 1by Warren M. Billings The American Promise, A compact history, fourth edition, volume 1: to 1877, by: Roark, Johnson, Cohen, stage, Lawson, and Hartmann WWW. fcps. edu/GunstonES/gunstones/speciaLprojects/Jamestown1612. htm Gale Encyclopedia of Biography :John Rolfe

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