How did tobacco agriculture shape the Chesapeake region? In your response, consider the demographic and economic changes brought by tobacco culture during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
The unique environment of the Chesapeake had a weighty effect on Europeans who settled in the region between 1600s and 1700s. As farming practices began, tobacco farming became progressively significant to the English planters. The cultivation of tobacco influenced the growth of certain cities such as North and South Carolina and Maryland. In order to be gainful, tobacco farming required massive pieces of land and vigilant tending as well enough labor. Tobacco as the chief cash crop in Chesapeake impacted the labor markets as well as the systems of indentured vassalage was displaced with that of the enslaved African labor. As the main cash crop of the region, plantation of tobacco not only stabilized the economy but also changed the demographic of the region.
Known as the staple of the Chesapeake colonies, tobacco became the main source of income which stabilized the economy. Notably, silver and gold, products that used to generate income, became scarce in the region and led to the start of tobacco farming which created significant revenues for the locals and the government. Particularly, tobacco gave the colonial governments of Maryland and of Virginia one of their major bases of revenue. According to Roark et al., a duty of about 20 cents or two shillings which was levied on each hogshead of tobacco exported provided Virginia with 3,000 pounds (234). In Maryland, the profits were stable at 2,500 pounds, a year from 1700.
Tobacco farming also influenced the demographic and culture in Chesapeake. Notably, the known source of income were gold and silver; however, with time, these products became exhausted which made several regions to look for a better way for survival. With the introduction of tobacco farming in Chesapeake, people from other regions migrated to Maryland, North and South Carolina to cultivate this cash crop since at some point, labor was needed because it is a labor intensive crop. In the end, there was an increase in population in Chesapeake region which also led to cultural diversity as most of them were from different cultures.
In conclusion, tobacco faming in Chesapeake was an important crop in the development of the region both economically and culturally. The crop was a source of income after gold and silver became scarce. It also generated money for the government in terms of levies. Additionally, the introduction of people from different regions led to population increase as well as cultural diversity.