Plantations in the American South
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A plantation complex in the Southern United States is the built environment (or complex) that was common on agricultural
plantation A plantation is an agricultural estate, generally centered on a plantation house, meant for farming that specializes in cash crops, usually mainly planted with a single crop, with perhaps ancillary areas for vegetables for eating and so on. The ...
s in the
American South The Southern United States (sometimes Dixie, also referred to as the Southern States, the American South, the Southland, or simply the South) is a geographic and cultural List of regions of the United States#Official regions of the United Stat ...
from the 17th into the 20th century. The complex included everything from the main residence down to the pens for
livestock Livestock are the domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to provide labor and produce diversified products for consumption such as meat, eggs, milk, fur, leather, and wool Wool is the textile fibre obtained from sheep an ...
. Until the abolition of
slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave—someone forbidden to quit one's service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as property. Slavery typically involves slaves being made to perf ...
, such plantations were generally self-sufficient settlements that relied on the
forced labor Forced labour, or unfree labour, is any work relation, especially in modern history, modern or Early Modern period, early modern history, in which people are employed against their will with the threat of poverty, destitution, detention (imp ...
of enslaved people. Plantations are an important aspect of the
history of the Southern United States The history of the Southern United States spans back thousand of years to the first evidence of human occupation. The Paleo-Indians were the first peoples to inhabit the Americas The Americas, which are sometimes collectively called ...
, particularly the
antebellum era In History of the Southern United States, the history of the Southern United States, the Antebellum Period (from la, ante bellum, lit=Status quo ante bellum, before the war) spanned the Treaty of Ghent, end of the War of 1812 to the start of ...
(pre-
American Civil War The American Civil War (April 12, 1861 – May 26, 1865; also known by Names of the American Civil War, other names) was a civil war in the United States. It was fought between the Union (American Civil War), Union ("the North") and t ...
). The mild
temperate climate In geography, the temperate climates of Earth occur in the middle latitudes (23.5° to 66.5° N/S of Equator), which span between the tropics and the polar regions of Earth. These zones generally have wider temperature ranges throughout t ...
, plentiful rainfall, and fertile soils of the
southeastern United States The Southeastern United States, also referred to as the American Southeast or simply the Southeast, is a geographical List of regions in the United States, region of the United States. It is located broadly on the eastern portion of the south ...
allowed the flourishing of large plantations, where large numbers of enslaved Africans or
African American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans and Afro-Americans) are an Race and ethnicity in the United States, ethnic group consisting of Americans with partial or total ancestry from sub-Saharan Africa. The term "African American ...
s were held captive and forced to produce crops to create wealth for a white
elite In political theory, political and sociology, sociological theory, the elite (french: élite, from la, eligere, to select or to sort out) are a small group of powerful people who hold a economic inequality, disproportionate amount of wealth, pr ...
. Today, as was also true in the past, there is a wide range of opinion as to what differentiated a plantation from a
farm A farm (also called an Agriculture, agricultural holding) is an area of land that is devoted primarily to Agriculture, agricultural processes with the primary objective of producing food and other crops; it is the basic facility in food produ ...
. Typically, the focus of a farm was
subsistence agriculture Subsistence agriculture occurs when farmers grow food crops to meet the needs of themselves and their families on smallholdings. Subsistence agriculturalists target farm output for survival and for mostly local requirements, with little or no su ...
. In contrast, the primary focus of a plantation was the production of
cash crop A cash crop or profit crop is an Agriculture, agricultural crop which is grown to sell for profit. It is typically purchased by parties separate from a farm. The term is used to differentiate marketed crops from staple crop (or "subsistence crop") ...
s, with enough
staple food A staple food, food staple, or simply a staple, is a food that is eaten often and in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a standard Diet (nutrition), diet for a given person or group of people, supplying a large fraction of ...
crops produced to feed the population of the estate and the livestock. A common definition of what constituted a plantation is that it typically had or more of land and produced one or two cash crops for sale. Other scholars have attempted to define it by the number of enslaved persons.


The plantation complex

The vast majority of plantations did not have grand mansions centered on a huge acreage. These large estates did exist, but represented only a small percentage of the plantations that once existed in the South. Although many Southern farmers did enslave people before
emancipation Emancipation generally means to free a person from a previous restraint or legal disability. More broadly, it is also used for efforts to procure Economic, social and cultural rights, economic and social rights, civil and political rights, pol ...
in 1862, few enslaved more than five. These farmers tended to work the fields alongside the people they enslaved. Of the estimated 46,200 plantations existing in 1860, 20,700 had 20 to 30 enslaved people and 2,300 had a workforce of a hundred or more, with the rest somewhere in between. Many plantations were operated by absentee-landowners and never had a main house on site. Just as vital and arguably more important to the complex were the many structures built for the processing and storage of crops, food preparation and storage, sheltering equipment and animals, and various other domestic and agricultural purposes. The value of the plantation came from its land and the enslaved people who toiled on it to produce crops for sale. These same people produced the built environment: the main house for the plantation owner, the slave cabins, barns, and other structures of the complex. The materials for a plantation's buildings, for the most part, came from the lands of the estate. Lumber was obtained from the forested areas of the property. Depending on its intended use, it was either split,
hewn In woodworking, hewing is the process of converting a trunk (botany), log from its rounded natural form into lumber (timber) with more or less flat surfaces using primarily an axe. It is an ancient method, and before the advent of the industr ...
, or sawn. Bricks were most often produced onsite from sand and clay that was molded, dried, and then fired in a
kiln A kiln is a thermally insulated chamber, a type of oven, that produces temperatures sufficient to complete some process, such as hardening, drying, or chemical changes. Kilns have been used for millennia to turn objects made from clay int ...
. If a suitable stone was available, it was used.
Tabby A tabby is any domestic cat The cat (''Felis catus'') is a Domestication of the cat, domestic species of small carnivorous mammal. It is the only domesticated species in the family Felidae and is commonly referred to as the domestic cat ...
was often used on the southern
Sea Islands The Sea Islands are a chain of tidal island, tidal and barrier islands on the Atlantic Ocean coast of the Southeastern United States. Numbering over 100, they are located between the mouths of the Santee River, Santee and St. Johns Rivers along ...
. Few plantation structures have survived into the modern era, with the vast majority destroyed through
natural disaster A natural disaster is "the negative impact following an actual occurrence of natural hazard in the event that it significantly harms a community". A natural disaster can cause loss of life or damage property, and typically leaves some econo ...
, neglect, or fire over the centuries. With the collapse of the
plantation economy A plantation economy is an economy based on agricultural mass production, usually of a few commodity crops, grown on large farms worked by laborers or slaves. The properties are called plantations. Plantation economies rely on the export of ...
and subsequent Southern transition from a largely agrarian to an
industrial society In sociology, industrial society is a society driven by the use of technology and machinery to enable mass production, supporting a population growth, large population with a high capacity for division of labour. Such a structure developed in the ...
, plantations and their building complexes became obsolete. Although the majority have been destroyed, the most common structures to have survived are the plantation houses. As is true of buildings in general, the more substantially built and architecturally interesting buildings have tended to be the ones that survived into the modern age and are better documented than many of the smaller and simpler ones. Several plantation homes of important persons, including
Mount Vernon Mount Vernon is an American landmark and former Plantation complexes in the Southern United States, plantation of Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father, commander of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War, Revo ...
,
Monticello Monticello ( ) was the primary plantations in the American South, plantation of Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, who began designing Monticello after inheritin ...
, and The Hermitage have also been preserved. Less common are intact examples of slave housing. The rarest survivors of all are the agricultural and lesser domestic structures, especially those dating from the pre-Civil War era.


Slave quarters

Slave housing, although once one of the most common and distinctive features of the plantation landscape, has largely disappeared from most of the South. Many were insubstantial to begin with. Only the better-built examples tended to survive, and then usually only if they were turned to other uses after emancipation. Slave quarters could be next to the main house, well away from it, or both. On large plantations they were often arranged in a village-like grouping along an avenue away from the main house, but sometimes were scattered around the plantation on the edges of the fields where the enslaved people toiled, like most of the sharecropper cabins that were to come later. Slave houses were often one of the most basic construction. Meant for little more than sleeping, they were usually rough log or frame one-room cabins; early examples often had chimneys made of clay and sticks. Hall and parlor houses (two rooms) were also represented on the plantation landscape, offering a separate room for eating and sleeping. Sometimes dormitories and two-story dwellings were also used as slave housing. Earlier examples rested on the ground with a dirt floor, but later examples were usually raised on piers for ventilation. Most of these represent the dwellings constructed for field slaves. Rarely though, such as at the former Hermitage Plantation in Georgia and
Boone Hall Boone Hall Plantation is a historic district located in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, Mount Pleasant, Charleston County, South Carolina, Charleston County, South Carolina, United States and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. ...
in South Carolina, even field slaves were provided with brick cabins. More fortunate in their accommodations were the house servants or skilled laborers. They usually resided either in a part of the main house or in their own houses, which were normally more comfortable dwellings than those of their counterparts who worked in the fields. A few enslavers went even further to provide housing for their household servants. When Waldwic in Alabama was remodeled in the Gothic Revival style in the 1852, the household servants were provided with large accommodations that matched the architecture of the main house. This model, however, was exceedingly rare. Famous landscape designer
Frederick Law Olmsted Frederick Law Olmsted (April 26, 1822August 28, 1903) was an American landscape architect, journalist, social critic, and public administrator. He is considered to be the father of landscape architecture in the USA. Olmsted was famous for co ...
had this recollection of a visit to plantations along the Georgia coast in 1855:


Other residential structures

A crucial residential structure on larger plantations was an overseer's house. The overseer was largely responsible for the success or failure of an estate, making sure that quotas were met and sometimes meting out punishment for infractions by the enslaved. The overseer was responsible for healthcare, with enslaved people and slave houses inspected routinely. He was also the record keeper of most crop inventories and held the keys to various storehouses. The overseer's house was usually a modest dwelling, not far from the cabins of the enslaved workers. The overseer and his family, even when white and southern, did not freely mingle with the planter and his family. They were in a different social stratum than that of the owner and were expected to know their place. In village-type slave quarters on plantations with overseers, his house was usually at the head of the slave village rather than near the main house, at least partially due to his social position. It was also part of an effort to keep the enslaved people compliant and prevent the beginnings of a slave rebellion, a very real fear in the minds of most plantation owners. Economic studies indicate that fewer than 30 percent of planters employed white supervisors for their slave labor. Some planters appointed a trusted slave as the overseer, and in Louisiana free black overseers were also used. Another residential structure largely unique to plantation complexes was the garconnière or bachelors' quarters. Mostly built by
Louisiana Creole people Louisiana Creoles (french: Créoles de la Louisiane, lou, Moun Kréyòl la Lwizyàn, es, Criollos de Luisiana) are people descended from the inhabitants of colonial Louisiana (New France), Louisiana before it became a part of the United States ...
, but occasionally found in other parts of the
Deep South The Deep South or the Lower South is a cultural and geographic subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region or continent and is usually based on location. Cardinal directions, such as south are commonly used to define a subregion. U ...
formerly under the dominion of New France, they were structures that housed the adolescent or unmarried sons of plantation owners. At some plantations it was a free-standing structure and at others it was attached to the main house by side-wings. It developed from the
Acadian The Acadians (french: Acadiens , ) are an ethnic group descended from the French colonial empire, French who settled in the New France colony of Acadia during the 17th and 18th centuries. Most Acadians live in the region of Acadia (region), A ...
tradition of using the loft of the house as a bedroom for young men.


Kitchen yard

A variety of domestic and lesser agricultural structures surrounded the main house on all plantations. Most plantations possessed some, if not all, of these outbuildings, often called dependencies, commonly arranged around a
courtyard A courtyard or court is a circumscribed area, often surrounded by a building or complex, that is open to the sky. Courtyards are common elements in both Western and Eastern building patterns and have been used by both ancient and contemporary ...
to the rear of the main house known as the kitchen yard. They included a cookhouse (separate kitchen building),
pantry A pantry is a room or cupboard where drink, beverages, food, and sometimes dishes, household cleaning products, linens or provisions are stored within a home or office. Food and beverage pantries serve in an ancillary capacity to the kitchen. ...
, washhouse (
laundry Laundry refers to the washing of clothing and other textiles, and, more broadly, their drying and ironing as well. Laundry has been part of history since humans began to wear clothes, so the methods by which different cultures have dealt with t ...
),
smokehouse A smokehouse (North American) or smokery (British) is a building where meat or fish is cured with smoke Smoke is a suspension of airborne particulates and gases emitted when a material undergoes combustion or pyrolysis, together with th ...
, chicken house, spring house or ice house, milkhouse (
dairy A dairy is a business enterprise established for the harvesting or processing (or both) of animal milk – mostly from cattle, cows or Water buffalo, buffaloes, but also from goats, sheep, horses, or camels – for human consumption. A dairy is ...
), covered
well A well is an excavation or structure created in the ground by digging, driving, or drilling to access liquid resources, usually water. The oldest and most common kind of well is a water well, to access groundwater in underground aquifers. The ...
, and
cistern A cistern (Middle English ', from Latin ', from ', "box", from Greek language, Greek ', "basket") is a waterproof receptacle for holding liquids, usually water. Cisterns are often built to catch and Rainwater tank, store rainwater. Cisterns ar ...
. The privies would have been located some distance away from the
plantation house A plantation house is the main house of a plantation, often a substantial farmhouse, which often serves as a symbol for the plantation as a whole. Plantation complexes in the Southern United States, Plantation houses in the Southern United State ...
and kitchen yard. The cookhouse or kitchen was almost always in a separate building in the South until modern times, sometimes connected to the main house by a covered walkway. This separation was partially due to the cooking fire generating heat all day long in an already hot and humid climate. It also reduced the risk of fire. Indeed, on many plantations the cookhouse was built of brick while when the main house was of wood-frame construction. Another reason for the separation was to prevent the noise and smells of cooking activities from reaching the main house. Sometimes the cookhouse contained two rooms, one for the actual kitchen and the other to serve as the residence for the cook. Still other arrangements had the kitchen in one room, a laundry in the other, and a second story for servant quarters. The pantry could be in its own structure or in a cool part of the cookhouse or a storehouse and would have secured items such as barrels of
salt Salt is a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride (NaCl), a chemical compound belonging to the larger class of Salt (chemistry), salts; salt in the form of a natural crystallinity, crystalline mineral is known as rock salt or halite. ...
,
sugar Sugar is the generic name for Sweetness, sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food. Simple sugars, also called monosaccharides, include glucose, fructose, and galactose. Compound sugars, also called disaccharides o ...
,
flour Flour is a Powder (substance), powder made by Mill (grinding), grinding raw grains, List of root vegetables, roots, beans, Nut (fruit), nuts, or seeds. Flours are used to make many different foods. Cereal flour, particularly wheat flour, ...
,
cornmeal Cornmeal is a meal (coarse flour) or a cell membrane ground from dried maize, corn. It is a common staple food, and is Mill (grinding), ground to coarse, medium, and fine consistencies, but not as fine as wheat flour can be.Herbst, Sharon, ''Fo ...
and the like. The washhouse is where clothes, tablecloths, and bed-covers were cleaned and ironed. It also sometimes had living quarters for the
laundrywoman Laundry refers to the washing of clothing and other textiles, and, more broadly, their drying and ironing as well. Laundry has been part of history since humans began to wear clothes, so the methods by which different cultures have dealt with t ...
. Cleaning laundry in this period was labor-intensive for the domestic slaves that performed it. It required various
gadget A gadget is a mechanical device or any ingenious article. Gadgets are sometimes referred to as '' gizmos''. History The etymology of the word is disputed. The word first appears as reference to an 18th-century tool in glassmaking that was devel ...
s to accomplish the task. The wash boiler was a cast iron or copper cauldron in which clothes or other fabrics and soapy water were heated over an open fire. The wash-stick was a wooden stick with a handle at its uppermost part and four to five prongs at its base. It was simultaneously pounded up and down and rotated in the washing tub to aerate the wash solution and loosen any dirt. The items would then be vigorously rubbed on a corrugated wash board until clean. By the 1850s, they would be passed through a mangle. Prior to that time, wringing out the items was done by hand. The items would then be ready to be hung out to dry or, in inclement weather, placed on a drying rack. Ironing would have been done with a metal flat iron, often heated in the fireplace, and various other devices. The milkhouse would have been used by enslaved people to make
milk Milk is a white liquid food produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals (including breastfeeding, breastfed human infants) before they are able to digestion, digest solid food. Immune fact ...
into
cream Cream is a dairy product composed of the higher-fat layer skimmed from the top of milk before Homogenization (chemistry), homogenization. In un-homogenized milk, the fat, which is less dense, eventually rises to the top. In the industrial produc ...
,
butter Butter is a dairy product made from the fat and protein components of churned cream. It is a semi-solid emulsion at room temperature, consisting of approximately 80% butterfat. It is used at room temperature as a spread (food), spread, melted a ...
, and
buttermilk Buttermilk is a Fermented milk products, fermented dairy drink. Traditionally, it was the liquid left behind after churning butter out of Microbial food cultures, cultured cream. As most modern butter in western countries is not made with cul ...
. The process started with separating the milk into
skim milk Skimmed milk (British English British English (BrE, en-GB, or BE) is, according to Oxford Dictionaries, " English as used in Great Britain, as distinct from that used elsewhere". More narrowly, it can refer specifically to the English l ...
and cream. It was done by pouring the whole milk into a container and allowing the cream to naturally rise to the top. This was collected into another container daily until several gallons had accumulated. During this time the cream would sour slightly through naturally occurring bacteria. This increased the efficiency of the churning to come. Churning was an arduous task performed with a
butter churn A butter churn is a device used to convert cream into butter. This is done through a mechanical process, frequently via a pole inserted through the lid of the churn, or via a crank used to turn a rotating device inside the churn. Etymology The ...
. Once firm enough to separate out, but soft enough to stick together, the butter was taken out of the churn, washed in very cold water, and salted. The churning process also produced buttermilk as a by-product. It was the remaining liquid after the butter was removed from the churn. All of the products of this process would have been stored in the spring house or ice house. The smokehouse was utilized to preserve meat, usually
pork Pork is the culinary name for the meat of the Pig, domestic pig (''Sus domesticus''). It is the most commonly consumed meat worldwide, with evidence of pig animal husbandry, husbandry dating back to 5000 BCE. Pork is eaten both freshly ...
,
beef Beef is the culinary name for meat from cattle (''Bos taurus''). In prehistoric times, humankind hunted aurochs and later domesticated them. Since that time, numerous breeds of cattle have been bred specifically for the quality or quantit ...
, and
mutton Lamb, hogget, and mutton, generically sheep meat, are the meat of domestic sheep, ''Ovis aries''. A sheep in its first year is a lamb and its meat is also lamb. The meat from sheep in their second year is hogget. Older sheep meat is mutton. Gen ...
. It was commonly built of hewn logs or brick. Following the slaughter in the fall or early winter,
salt Salt is a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride (NaCl), a chemical compound belonging to the larger class of Salt (chemistry), salts; salt in the form of a natural crystallinity, crystalline mineral is known as rock salt or halite. ...
and
sugar Sugar is the generic name for Sweetness, sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food. Simple sugars, also called monosaccharides, include glucose, fructose, and galactose. Compound sugars, also called disaccharides o ...
were applied to the meat at the beginning of the curing process, and then the meat was slowly dried and smoked in the smokehouse by a fire that did not add any heat to the smokehouse itself. If it was cool enough, the meat could also be stored there until it was consumed. The chicken house was a building where
chicken The chicken (''Gallus gallus domesticus'') is a domestication, domesticated junglefowl species, with attributes of wild species such as the grey junglefowl, grey and the Ceylon junglefowl that are originally from Southeastern Asia. Rooster ...
s were kept. Its design could vary, depending on whether the chickens were kept for egg production, meat, or both. If for eggs, there were often
nest box A nest is a structure built for certain animals to hold Egg (biology), eggs or young. Although nests are most closely associated with birds, members of all classes of vertebrates and some invertebrates construct nests. They may be composed of ...
es for egg laying and perches on which the birds to sleep. Eggs were collected daily. Some plantations also had pigeonniers (
dovecote A dovecote or dovecot , doocot (Scots Language, Scots) or columbarium is a structure intended to house Domestic pigeon, pigeons or doves. Dovecotes may be free-standing structures in a variety of shapes, or built into the end of a house or ba ...
s) that, in Louisiana, sometimes took the form of monumental towers set near the main house. The
pigeon Columbidae () is a bird Family (biology), family consisting of doves and pigeons. It is the only family in the Order (biology), order Columbiformes. These are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills that in some species fe ...
s were raised to be eaten as a delicacy and their droppings were used as fertilizer. Few functions could take place on a plantation without a reliable water supply. Every plantation had at least one, and sometimes several, wells. These were usually roofed and often partially enclosed by latticework to keep out animals. Since the well water in many areas was distasteful due to mineral content, the
potable Drinking water is water that is used in drinking, drink or food preparation; potable water is water that is safe to be used as drinking water. The amount of drinking water required to maintain good health varies, and depends on physical activity ...
water on many plantations came from cisterns that were supplied with rainwater by a pipe from a rooftop catchment. These could be huge aboveground wooden barrels capped by metal domes, such as was often seen in Louisiana and coastal areas of Mississippi, or underground brick masonry domes or vaults, common in other areas.


Ancillary structures

Some structures on plantations provided subsidiary functions; again, the term dependency can be applied to these buildings. A few were common, such as the
carriage house A carriage house, also called a remise or coach house, is an outbuilding which was originally built to house horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a Domestication, domesticated, odd-toed ungulate, one-toed, ungulate, hoofed mamma ...
and
blacksmith A blacksmith is a metalsmith who creates objects primarily from wrought iron or steel, but sometimes from #Other metals, other metals, by forging the metal, using tools to hammer, bend, and cut (cf. tinsmith). Blacksmiths produce objects such ...
shop; but most varied widely among plantations and were largely a function of what the planter wanted, needed, or could afford to add to the complex. These buildings might include schoolhouses,
office An office is a space where an Organization, organization's employees perform Business administration, administrative Work (human activity), work in order to support and realize objects and Goals, plans, action theory, goals of the organizati ...
s,
church Church may refer to: Religion * Church (building), a building for Christian religious activities * Church (congregation), a local congregation of a Christian denomination * Church service, a formalized period of Christian communal worship * Chris ...
es, commissary stores,
gristmill A gristmill (also: grist mill, corn mill, flour mill, feed mill or feedmill) grinds cereal grain into flour and Wheat middlings, middlings. The term can refer to either the Mill (grinding), grinding mechanism or the building that holds it. Grist i ...
s, and
sawmill A sawmill (saw mill, saw-mill) or lumber mill is a facility where logging, logs are cut into lumber. Modern sawmills use a motorized saw to cut logs lengthwise to make long pieces, and crosswise to length depending on standard or custom sizes ...
s. Found on some plantations in every Southern state, plantation schoolhouses served as a place for the hired
tutor TUTOR, also known as PLATO Author Language, is a programming language A programming language is a system of notation for writing computer program, computer programs. Most programming languages are text-based formal languages, but they may ...
or
governess A governess is a largely obsolete term for a woman employed as a private tutor, who teaches and trains a child or children in their home. A governess often lives in the same residence as the children she is teaching. In contrast to a nanny, th ...
to educate the planter's children, and sometimes even those of other planters in the area. On most plantations, however, a room in the main house was sufficient for schooling, rather than a separate dedicated building. Paper was precious, so the children often recited their lessons until they memorized them. The usual texts in the beginning were the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek , , 'the books') is a collection of religious texts or scriptures that are held to be sacredness, sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is an anthologya compilation of ...
, a primer, and a
hornbook A hornbook (horn-book) is a single-sided alphabet tablet, which served from medieval times as a Primer (textbook), primer for study, and sometimes included vowel combinations, numerals or short verse. The hornbook was in common use in England ar ...
. As the children grew older their schooling began to prepare them for their adult roles on the plantation. Boys studied
academic An academy (Attic Greek Attic Greek is the Greek language, Greek dialect of the regions of ancient Greece, ancient region of Attica, including the ''polis'' of classical Athens, Athens. Often called classical Greek, it was the prestige (socio ...
subjects, proper
social etiquette Etiquette () is the set of norms of personal behaviour in polite society, usually occurring in the form of an ethical code of the expected and accepted social behaviour Social behavior is behavior among two or more organisms within the s ...
, and plantation management, while girls learned
art Art is a diverse range of human activity, and resulting product, that involves creative or imaginative talent expressive of technical proficiency, beauty, emotional power, or conceptual ideas. There is no generally agreed definition of wha ...
,
music Music is generally defined as the The arts, art of arranging sound to create some combination of Musical form, form, harmony, melody, rhythm or otherwise Musical expression, expressive content. Exact definition of music, definitions of mu ...
, French, and the domestic skills suited to the mistress of a plantation. Most plantation owners maintained an office for keeping records, transacting business, writing correspondence, and the like. Although it, like the schoolroom, was most often within the main house or another structure, it was not at all rare for a complex to have a separate plantation office. John C. Calhoun used his plantation office at his Fort Hill plantation in Clemson, South Carolina as a private sanctuary of sorts, with it utilized as both
study Study or studies may refer to: General * Education **Higher education * Clinical trial * Experiment * Observational study * Research * Study skills, abilities and approaches applied to learning Other * Study (art), a drawing or series of drawin ...
and
library A library is a collection of materials, books or media that are accessible for use and not just for display purposes. A library provides physical (hard copies) or digital access (soft copies) materials, and may be a physical location or a vir ...
during his twenty-five year residency. Another structure found on some estates was a plantation
chapel A chapel is a Christian place of prayer and worship that is usually relatively small. The term has several meanings. Firstly, smaller spaces inside a church that have their own altar are often called chapels; the Lady chapel is a common type ...
or church. These were built for a variety of reasons. In many cases the planter built a church or chapel for the use of the plantation slaves, although they usually recruited a white minister to conduct the services. Some were built to exclusively serve the plantation family, but many more were built to serve the family and others in the area who shared the same faith. This seems to be especially true with planters within the Episcopal denomination. Early records indicate that at Faunsdale Plantation the mistress of the estate, Louisa Harrison, gave regular instruction to her slaves by reading the services of the church and teaching the Episcopal
catechism A catechism (; from grc, κατηχέω, "to teach orally") is a summary or exposition of doctrine and serves as a learning introduction to the Sacraments traditionally used in catechesis, or Christian religious teaching of children and adult c ...
to their children. Following the death of her first husband, she had a large
Carpenter Gothic Carpenter Gothic, also sometimes called Carpenter's Gothic or Rural Gothic, is a North American architectural style-designation for an application of Gothic Revival architecture, Gothic Revival architectural detailing and picturesque massing ...
church built, St. Michael's Church. She latter remarried to Rev. William A. Stickney, who served as the Episcopal minister of St. Michael's and was later appointed by Bishop Richard Wilmer as a "Missionary to the Negroes," after which Louisa joined him as an unofficial fellow minister among the African Americans of the Black Belt. Most plantation churches were of wood-frame construction, although some were built in brick, often
stucco Stucco or render is a construction material made of Construction aggregate, aggregates, a binder (material), binder, and water. Stucco is applied wet and hardens to a very dense solid. It is used as a decorative coating for walls and ceilings, ...
ed. Early examples tended towards the vernacular or neoclassicism, but later examples were almost always in the Gothic Revival style. A few rivaled those built by southern town congregations. Two of the most elaborate extant examples in the Deep South are the Chapel of the Cross at Annandale Plantation and St. Mary's Chapel at Laurel Hill Plantation, both Episcopalian structures in Mississippi. In both cases the original plantation houses have been destroyed, but the quality and design of the churches can give some insight into how elaborate some plantation complexes and their buildings could be. St. Mary Chapel, in Natchez, dates to 1839, built in stuccoed brick with large Gothic and Tudor arch windows, hood mouldings over the doors and windows,
buttress A buttress is an architecture, architectural structure built against or projecting from a wall which serves to support or reinforce the wall. Buttresses are fairly common on more ancient buildings, as a means of providing support to act against t ...
es, a
crenelated A battlement in defensive architecture, such as that of city wall A defensive wall is a fortification usually used to protect a city, town or other settlement from potential aggressors. The walls can range from simple palisades or earthw ...
roof-line, and a small Gothic spire crowning the whole. Although construction records are very sketchy, the Chapel of the Cross, built from 1850 to 1852 near Madison, may be attributable to Frank Wills or
Richard Upjohn Richard Upjohn (22 January 1802 – 16 August 1878) was a British-born United States, American architect who emigrated to the United States and became most famous for his Gothic Revival churches. He was partially responsible for launching the ...
, both of whom designed almost identical churches in the North during the same time period that the Chapel of the Cross was built. Another secondary structure on many plantations during the height of the
sharecropping Sharecropping is a legal arrangement with regard to agricultural land in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crops produced on that land. Sharecropping has a long history and there are a wide range ...
-era was the plantation store or commissary. Although some antebellum plantations had a commissary that distributed food and supplies to enslaved people, the plantation store was essentially a postbellum addition to the plantation complex. In addition to the share of their crop already owed to the plantation owner for the use of his or her land, tenants and sharecroppers purchased, usually on credit against their next crop, the food staples and equipment that they relied on for their existence. This type of
debt bondage Debt bondage, also known as debt slavery, bonded labour, or peonage, is the pledge of a person's services as security for the repayment for a debt or other obligation. Where the terms of the repayment are not clearly or reasonably stated, the per ...
, for blacks and poor whites, led to a populist movement in the late 19th century that began to bring blacks and whites together for a common cause. This early populist movement is largely credited with helping to cause state governments in the South, mostly controlled by the planter elite, to enact various laws that disenfranchised poor whites and blacks, through
grandfather clause A grandfather clause, also known as grandfather policy, grandfathering, or grandfathered in, is a provision in which an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations while a new rule will apply to all future cases. Those exempt from t ...
s,
literacy test A literacy test assesses a person's literacy Literacy in its broadest sense describes "particular ways of thinking about and doing reading and writing" with the purpose of understanding or expressing thoughts or ideas in Writing, written ...
s,
poll taxes A poll tax, also known as head tax or capitation, is a tax levied as a fixed sum on every liable individual (typically every adult), without reference to income or resources. Head taxes were important sources of revenue for many governments fr ...
, and various other laws.


Agricultural structures

The agricultural structures on plantations had some basic structures in common and others that varied widely. They depended on what crops and animals were raised on the plantation. Common crops included
corn Maize ( ; ''Zea mays'' subsp. ''mays'', from es, maíz after tnq, mahiz), also known as corn ( North American and Australian English Australian English (AusE, AusEng, AuE, AuEng, en-AU) is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties ...
, upland cotton, sea island cotton,
rice Rice is the seed of the Poaceae, grass species ''Oryza sativa'' (Asian rice) or less commonly ''Oryza glaberrima'' (African rice). The name wild rice is usually used for species of the genera ''Zizania (genus), Zizania'' and ''Porteresia'', bo ...
,
sugarcane Sugarcane or sugar cane is a species of (often hybrid) tall, Perennial plant, perennial grass (in the genus ''Saccharum'', tribe Andropogoneae) that is used for sugar Sugar industry, production. The plants are 2–6 m (6–20 ft) tall with ...
, and
tobacco Tobacco is the common name of several plants in the genus ''Nicotiana'' of the Family (biology), family Solanaceae, and the general term for any product prepared from the curing of tobacco, cured leaves of these plants. Nicotiana#Species, M ...
. Besides those mentioned earlier,
cattle Cattle (''Bos taurus'') are large, domestication, domesticated, Cloven hoof, cloven-hooved, herbivores. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae and the most widespread species of the genus ''Bos''. Adult females are referr ...
,
duck Duck is the common name for numerous species of waterfowl in the family (biology), family Anatidae. Ducks are generally smaller and shorter-necked than swans and goose, geese, which are members of the same family. Divided among several subfam ...
s,
goat The goat or domestic goat (''Capra hircus'') is a domesticated species of Caprinae, goat-antelope typically kept as livestock. It was domesticated from the wild goat (''C. aegagrus'') of Southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a membe ...
s, hogs, and
sheep Sheep or domestic sheep (''Ovis aries'') are domesticated, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Although the term ''sheep'' can apply to other species in the genus ''Ovis'', in everyday usage it almost always refers to domesticated sh ...
were raised for their derived products and/or meat. All estates would have possessed various types of animal pens,
stable A stable is a building in which livestock, especially horses, are kept. It most commonly means a building that is divided into separate Stall (livestock), stalls for individual animals and livestock. There are many different types of stables ...
s, and a variety of
barn A barn is an agricultural building usually on farms and used for various purposes. In North America, a barn refers to structures that house livestock, including cattle and horses, as well as equipment and fodder, and often grain.Allen G. N ...
s. Many plantations utilized a number of specialized structures that were crop-specific and only found on that type of plantation. Plantation barns can be classified by function, depending on what type of crop and livestock were raised. In the upper South, like their counterparts in the
North North is one of the four compass points or cardinal directions. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to east and west. ''North'' is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating Direction (geometry), direction or geography. Etymology T ...
, barns had to provide basic shelter for the animals and storage of
fodder Fodder (), also called provender (), is any agriculture, agricultural foodstuff used specifically to feed domesticated livestock, such as cattle, domestic rabbit, rabbits, sheep, horses, chickens and pigs. "Fodder" refers particularly to food g ...
. Unlike the upper regions, most plantations in the lower South did not have to provide substantial shelter to their animals during the winter. Animals were often kept in fattening pens with a simple
shed A shed is typically a simple, single-story roofed structure that is used for hobby, hobbies, or as a workshop in a back garden or on an allotment (gardening), allotment. Sheds vary considerably in their size and complexity of construction, fr ...
for shelter, with the main barn or barns being utilized for crop storage or processing only. Stables were an essential type of barn on the plantation, used to house both
horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a Domestication, domesticated, odd-toed ungulate, one-toed, ungulate, hoofed mammal. It belongs to the taxonomic family Equidae and is one of two Extant taxon, extant subspecies of wild horse, ''Equus fer ...
s and
mule The mule is a domestic equine hybrid between a donkey The domestic donkey is a hoofed mammal in the family Equidae, the same family as the horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a Domestication, domesticated, odd-toed un ...
s. These were usually separate, one for each type of animal. The mule stable was the most important on the vast majority of estates, since the mules did most of the work, pulling the
plow A plough or plow (Differences between American and British spellings, US; both ) is a farm tool for loosening or turning the soil before sowing seed or planting. Ploughs were traditionally drawn by oxen and horses, but in modern farms are draw ...
s and
cart A cart or dray (Australia and New Zealand) is a vehicle designed for transport, using two wheels and normally pulled by one or a pair of draught animals. A handcart is pulled or pushed by one or more people. It is different from the flatbed tr ...
s. Barns not involved in
animal husbandry Animal husbandry is the branch of agriculture concerned with animals that are raised for meat, animal fiber, fibre, milk, or other products. It includes day-to-day care, selective breeding, and the raising of livestock. Husbandry has a long hi ...
were most commonly the crib barn (
corn crib A corn crib or corncrib is a type of granary used to dry and store corn Maize ( ; ''Zea mays'' subsp. ''mays'', from es, maíz after tnq, mahiz), also known as corn ( North American and Australian English Australian English (Aus ...
s or other types of
granaries A granary is a storehouse or room in a barn for threshing, threshed cereal, grain or compound feed, animal feed. Ancient or primitive granaries are most often made of pottery. Granaries are often built above the ground to keep the stored food ...
), storage barns, or processing barns. Crib barns were typically built of unchinked logs, although they were sometimes covered with vertical wood siding. Storage barns often housed unprocessed crops or those awaiting consumption or transport to market. Processing barns were specialized structures that were necessary for helping to actually process the crop. Tobacco plantations were most common in certain parts of Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Virginia. The first agricultural plantations in Virginia were founded on the growing of tobacco. Tobacco production on plantations was very labor-intensive. It required the entire year to gather seeds, start them growing in
cold frame In agriculture and gardening, a cold frame is a Transparency (optics), transparent-roofed enclosure, built low to the ground, used to protect plants from adverse weather, primarily excessive cold or wet. The transparent top admits sunlight and prev ...
s, and then transplant the plants to the fields once the soil had warmed. Then the enslaved people had to weed the fields all summer and remove the flowers from the tobacco plants in order to force more energy into the leaves. Harvesting was done by plucking individual leaves over several weeks as they ripened, or cutting entire tobacco plants and hanging them in vented tobacco barns to dry, called curing. Rice plantations were common in the
South Carolina Lowcountry The Lowcountry (sometimes Low Country or just low country) is a geographic and cultural region along South Carolina's coast, including the Sea Islands. The region includes significant salt marshes and other coastal waterways, making it an import ...
. Until the 19th century, rice was threshed from the stalks and the husk was pounded from the grain by hand, a very labor-intensive endeavor.
Steam-powered A steam engine is a heat engine In thermodynamics and engineering, a heat engine is a system that converts heat to mechanical energy, which can then be used to do work (physics), mechanical work. It does this by bringing a working ...
rice pounding mills had become common by the 1830s. They were used to thresh the
grain A grain is a small, hard, dry fruit (caryopsis) – with or without an attached husk, hull layer – harvested for human or animal consumption. A grain crop is a grain-producing plant. The two main types of commercial grain crops are cereals and l ...
from the inedible
chaff Chaff (; ) is the dry, scaly protective hull (botany), casing of the seeds of cereal grains or similar fine, dry, scaly plant material (such as scaly parts of flowers or finely chopped straw). Chaff is indigestible by humans, but livestock can ea ...
. A separate chimney, required for the fires powering the steam engine, was adjacent to the pounding mill and often connected by an underground system. The
winnowing barn Winnowing barns (or winnowing houses) were structures commonly found in South Carolina on Antebellum era, antebellum rice plantations. A winnowing barn consists of a large shed on tall posts with a hole in the floor. Raw, husked rice was carried u ...
, a building raised roughly a story off of the ground on posts, was used to separate the lighter chaff and dust from the rice. Sugar plantations were most commonly found in Louisiana. In fact, Louisiana produced almost all of the sugar grown in the United States during the antebellum period. From one-quarter to one-half of all sugar consumed in the United States came from Louisiana sugar plantations. Plantations grew sugarcane from Louisiana's colonial era onward, but large scale production did not begin until the 1810s and 1820s. A successful sugar plantation required a skilled retinue of hired labor and enslaved people. The most specialized structure on a sugar plantation was the
sugar mill A sugar cane mill is a factory that processes sugar cane to produce raw sugar, raw or white sugar. The term is also used to refer to the equipment that crushes the sticks of sugar cane to extract the juice. Processing There are a number of st ...
(sugar house), where, by the 1830s, the steam-powered mill crushed the sugarcane stalks between rollers. This squeezed the juice from the stalks and the cane juice would run out the bottom of the mill through a strainer to be collected into a tank. From there the juice went through a process that removed impurities from the liquid and thickened it through evaporation. It was steam-heated in vats where additional impurities were removed by adding lime to the syrup and then the mixture was strained. At this point the liquid had been transformed into
molasses Molasses () is a viscosity, viscous substance resulting from sugar refining, refining sugarcane or sugar beets into sugar. Molasses varies in the amount of sugar, method of extraction and age of the plant. Sugarcane molasses is primarily used to ...
. It was then placed into a closed vessel known as a vacuum pan, where it was boiled until the sugar in the syrup was crystallized. The crystallized sugar was then cooled and separated from any remaining molasses in a process known as purging. The final step was packing the sugar into
hogshead A hogshead (abbreviated "hhd", plural "hhds") is a large Barrel (storage), cask of liquid (or, less often, of a List of traded commodities#Foodstuffs, food commodity). More specifically, it refers to a specified volume, measured in either Imperia ...
barrels for transport to market. Cotton plantations, the most common type of plantation in the South prior to the Civil War, were the last type of plantation to fully develop. Cotton production was a very labor-intensive crop to harvest, with the fibers having to be hand-picked from the bolls. This was coupled with the equally laborious removal of seeds from fiber by hand. Following the invention of the
cotton gin A cotton gin—meaning "cotton engine"—is a machine that quickly and easily separates cotton fibers from their seeds, enabling much greater productivity than manual cotton separation.. Reprinted by McGraw-Hill, New York and London, 1926 (); ...
, cotton plantations sprang up all over the South and cotton production soared, along with the expansion of slavery. Cotton also caused plantations to grow in size. During the financial panics of 1819 and 1837, when demand by British mills for cotton dropped, many small planters went bankrupt and their land and slaves were bought by larger plantations. As cotton-producing estates grew in size, so did the number of slaveholders and the average number of enslaved people held. A cotton plantation normally had a cotton gin house, where the cotton gin was used to remove the seeds from raw cotton. After ginning, the cotton had to be baled before it could be
warehouse A warehouse is a building for storing goods. Warehouses are used by manufacturers, importers, exporters, wholesalers, transport businesses, customs, etc. They are usually large plain buildings in industrial parks on the rural–urban fringe, outs ...
d and transported to market. This was accomplished with a cotton press, an early type of
baler A baler or hay baler is a piece of farm machinery used to compress a cut and raked crop (such as hay, cotton, flax straw, salt marsh hay, or silage) into compact bales that are easy to handle, transport, and store. Often, bales are configured ...
that was usually powered by two mules walking in a circle with each attached to an overhead arm that turned a huge wooden screw. The downward action of this screw compressed the processed cotton into a uniform bale-shaped wooden enclosure, where the bale was secured with twine.


Plantation complexes in the 21st century

Many manor houses survive, and in some cases former slave dwellings have been rebuilt or renovated. To pay for the upkeep, some, like the Monmouth Plantation in
Natchez, Mississippi Natchez ( ) is the county seat of and only city in Adams County, Mississippi, United States. Natchez has a total population of 14,520 (as of the 2020 census). Located on the Mississippi River across from Vidalia, Louisiana, Vidalia in Concordia Par ...
and the Lipscomb Plantation in
Durham, North Carolina Durham ( ) is a city in the U.S. state of North Carolina and the county seat of Durham County, North Carolina, Durham County. Small portions of the city limits extend into Orange County, North Carolina, Orange County and Wake County, North Carol ...
, have become small luxury hotels or
bed and breakfast Bed and breakfast (typically shortened to B&B or BnB) is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and breakfast. Bed and breakfasts are often private family homes and typically have between four and eleven rooms, wit ...
s. Not only Monticello and
Mount Vernon Mount Vernon is an American landmark and former Plantation complexes in the Southern United States, plantation of Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father, commander of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War, Revo ...
but some 375 former plantation houses are museums that can be visited. There are examples in every Southern state. Centers of plantation life such as Natchez run plantation tours. Traditionally the museum houses presented an idyllic, dignified "
lost cause The Lost Cause of the Confederacy (or simply Lost Cause) is an History of the United States, American pseudohistorical historical negationist, negationist mythology that claims the cause of the Confederate States during the American Civil Wa ...
" vision of the
antebellum South In History of the Southern United States, the history of the Southern United States, the Antebellum Period (from la, ante bellum, lit=Status quo ante bellum, before the war) spanned the Treaty of Ghent, end of the War of 1812 to the start of ...
. Recently, and to different degrees, some have begun to acknowledge the "horrors of slavery" which made that life possible. In late 2019, after contact initiated by Color of Change, "five major websites often used for wedding planning have pledged to cut back on promoting and romanticizing weddings at former slave plantations". The ''
New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''the Times'', ''NYT'', or the Gray Lady) is a daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership reported in 2020 to comprise a declining 840,000 paid print subscribers, and a growing 6 million paid d ...
'', earlier in 2019, "decided...to exclude couples who were being married on plantations from wedding announcements and other wedding coverage".


Personnel


Plantation owner

An individual who owned a plantation was known as a planter. Historians of the antebellum South have generally defined "planter" most precisely as a person owning property (real estate) and 20 or more
slaves Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave—someone forbidden to quit one's service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as property. Slavery typically involves slaves being made to perf ...
. In the " Black Belt" counties of
Alabama (We dare defend our rights) , anthem = " Alabama" , image_map = Alabama in United States.svg , seat = Montgomery , LargestCity = Huntsville , LargestCounty = Baldwin County , LargestMetro = Greater Birmingham , area_total_km2 = 135,7 ...
and
Mississippi Mississippi () is a U.S. state, state in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States, bordered to the north by Tennessee; to the east by Alabama; to the south by the Gulf of Mexico; to the southwest by Louisiana; a ...
, the terms "planter" and "farmer" were often synonymous.Oakes, ''Ruling Race'', 52. The historians
Robert Fogel Robert William Fogel (; July 1, 1926 – June 11, 2013) was an American economic historian and scientist, and winner (with Douglass North Douglass Cecil North (November 5, 1920 – November 23, 2015) was an American economist known for his ...
and
Stanley Engerman Stanley Lewis Engerman (born March 14, 1936) is an economist An economist is a professional and practitioner in the social sciences, social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and con ...
define large planters as those owning over 50 enslaved people, and medium planters as those owning between 16 and 50 enslaved people. Historian David Williams, in ''A People's History of the Civil War: Struggles for the Meaning of Freedom'', suggests that the minimum requirement for planter status was twenty slaves, especially since a Southern planter could exempt Confederate duty for one white male per twenty slaves owned. In his study of Black Belt counties in Alabama, Jonathan Weiner defines planters by ownership of real property, rather than of slaves. A planter, for Weiner, owned at least $10,000 worth of real estate in 1850 and $32,000 worth in 1860, equivalent to about the top eight percent of landowners. In his study of southwest Georgia, Lee Formwalt defines planters in terms of size of land holdings rather than in terms of numbers of slaves. Formwalt's planters are in the top 4.5% of landowners, translating into real estate worth $6,000 or more in 1850, $24,000 or more in 1860, and $11,000 or more in 1870. In his study of
Harrison County, Texas Harrison County is a County (United States), county on the eastern border of the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2020 United States Census, 2020 United States census, its population was 68,839. The county seat is Marshall, Texas, Marshall. The c ...
, Randolph B. Campbell classifies large planters as owners of 20 slaves, and small planters as owners of between 10 and 19 slaves. In Chicot and Phillips Counties, Arkansas, Carl H. Moneyhon defines large planters as owners of 20 or more slaves, and of or more. Many nostalgic memoirs about plantation life were published in the post-bellum South. For example, James Battle Avirett, who grew up on the Avirett-Stephens Plantation in
Onslow County, North Carolina Onslow County is a County (United States), county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2020 United States census, 2020 census, the population was 204,576. Its county seat is Jacksonville, North Carolina, Jacksonville. The count ...
, and served as an Episcopal chaplain in the
Confederate States Army The Confederate States Army, also called the Confederate Army or the Southern Army, was the military land force of the Confederate States of America (commonly referred to as the Confederacy) during the American Civil War (1861–1865), fighting ...
, published ''The Old Plantation: How We Lived in Great House and Cabin before the War'' in 1901. Such memoirs often included descriptions of Christmas as the epitome of anti-modern order exemplified by the "great house" and extended family. Novels, often adapted into
film A film also called a movie, motion picture, moving picture, picture, photoplay or (slang) flick is a work of visual art that simulates experiences and otherwise communicates ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty, or atmosphere ...
s, presented a romantic, sanitized view of plantation life. The most popular of these were ''
The Birth of a Nation ''The Birth of a Nation'', originally called ''The Clansman'', is a 1915 American Silent film, silent Epic film, epic Drama (film and television), drama film directed by D. W. Griffith and starring Lillian Gish. The screenplay is adapted from ...
'' (1916), based on Thomas Dixon Jr.,'s best-selling novel '' The Clansman'' (1905), and '' Gone with the Wind'' (1939), based on the best-selling novel of the same name (1936) by
Margaret Mitchell Margaret Munnerlyn Mitchell (November 8, 1900 – August 16, 1949) was an American novelist and journalist. Mitchell wrote only one novel, published during her lifetime, the American Civil War-era novel ''Gone With the Wind (novel), Gone with t ...
.


Overseer

On larger plantations an overseer represented the planter in matters of daily management. Usually perceived as uncouth, ill-educated, and low-class, he had the often despised task of meting out
punishments Punishment, commonly, is the imposition of an undesirable or suffering, unpleasant outcome upon a group or individual, meted out by an authority—in contexts ranging from child discipline to criminal law—as a response and deterrent to a parti ...
in order to keep up discipline and secure the profit of his employer.


Slavery

Southern plantations depended upon slaves to do the agricultural work. "Honestly, 'plantation' and 'slavery' is one and the same," said an employee of the Whitney Plantation in 2019. "Many plantations, including
George Washington George Washington (February 22, 1732, 1799) was an American military officer, statesman, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Appointed by the ...
's
Mount Vernon Mount Vernon is an American landmark and former Plantation complexes in the Southern United States, plantation of Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father, commander of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War, Revo ...
and
Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 18 ...
's
Monticello Monticello ( ) was the primary plantations in the American South, plantation of Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, who began designing Monticello after inheritin ...
, are working to present a more accurate image of what life was like for slaves and slave owners." "The changes have begun to draw people long alienated by the sites' whitewashing of the past and to satisfy what staff call a hunger for real history, as plantations add slavery-focused tours, rebuild cabins and reconstruct the lives of the enslaved with help from their descendants."
McLeod Plantation McLeod Plantation is a former slave plantation A slave plantation was an agricultural farm that used enslaved people for labour. The practice was abolished in most places during the 19th century. Slavery Planter class, Planters embraced th ...
focuses primarily on slavery. "McLeod focuses on bondage, talking bluntly about “slave
labor camp A labor camp (or labour camp, see British and American spelling differences, spelling differences) or work camp is a detention facility where inmates are unfree labour, forced to engage in penal labor as a form of punishment. Labor camps have m ...
s” and shunning the big white house for the fields." "'I was depressed by the time I left and questioned why anyone would want to live in South Carolina,' read one review f a tourposted to ''
Twitter Twitter is an online social media and social networking service owned and operated by American company Twitter, Inc., on which users post and interact with 280-character-long messages known as "tweets". Registered users can post, like, and ...
''."


See also

*
African-American history African-American history began with the arrival of Africans African or Africans may refer to: * Anything from or pertaining to the continent of Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after ...
*
American gentry The American gentry were rich landowning members of the American upper class in the colonial South. The Thirteen Colonies, Colonial American use of ''gentry'' was not common. Historians use it to refer to rich landowners in the South before ...
*
Atlantic slave trade The Atlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, or Euro-American slave trade involved the transportation by slave traders of enslaved African people, mainly to the Americas. The slave trade regularly used the triangular trade route and ...
* Casa-Grande & Senzala (similar concept in
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, ...
ian plantations) *
History of the Southern United States The history of the Southern United States spans back thousand of years to the first evidence of human occupation. The Paleo-Indians were the first peoples to inhabit the Americas The Americas, which are sometimes collectively called ...
*'' Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838–1839'' * List of plantations in the United States *
Lost Cause of the Confederacy The Lost Cause of the Confederacy (or simply Lost Cause) is an History of the United States, American pseudohistorical historical negationist, negationist mythology that claims the cause of the Confederate States during the American Civil Wa ...
*''
Plain Folk of the Old South ''Plain Folk of the Old South'' is a 1949 book by Vanderbilt University historian Frank Lawrence Owsley, one of the Southern Agrarians. In it he used statistical data to analyze the makeup of Southern United States, Southern society, contending t ...
'' (1949 book by historian Frank Lawrence Owsley) *
Plantation-era songs A work song is a piece of music closely connected to a form of work, either sung while conducting a task (usually to coordinate timing) or a song linked to a task which might be a connected narrative, description, or protest song. Definitions and ...
* Plantation tradition (genre of literature) * Plantations of Leon County (Florida) *
Planter class The planter class, known alternatively in the United States as the Southern aristocracy, was a Racial hierarchy, racial and socioeconomic caste of pan-American society that dominated 17th and 18th century agricultural markets. The Atlantic slave ...
*
Sharecropping Sharecropping is a legal arrangement with regard to agricultural land in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crops produced on that land. Sharecropping has a long history and there are a wide range ...
in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
* Slavery at Tuckahoe plantation *
Slavery in the United States The legal institution of human Slavery#Chattel slavery, chattel slavery, comprising the enslavement primarily of List of ethnic groups of Africa, Africans and African Americans, was prevalent in the United States, United States of America ...
*
Treatment of slaves in the United States The treatment of slaves in the United States often included sexual abuse and rape, the denial of education, and punishments like whippings. Families were often split up by the sale of one or more members, usually never to see or hear of each o ...
*
White supremacy White supremacy or white supremacism is the belief that white people are superior to those of other Race (human classification), races and thus should dominate them. The belief favors the maintenance and defense of any Power (social and polit ...


References


Further reading

* Blassingame, John W. ''The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South'' (1979) * * Evans, Chris, "The Plantation Hoe: The Rise and Fall of an Atlantic Commodity, 1650–1850," ''William and Mary Quarterly'', (2012) 69#1 pp 71–100. * Phillips, Ulrich B. ''American Negro Slavery; a Survey of the Supply, Employment, and Control of Negro Labor, as Determined by the Plantation Regime''. (1918; reprint 196
online at Project Gutenberggoogle edition
* Phillips, Ulrich B. ''Life and Labor in the Old South''. (1929).
excerpts and text search
* Phillips, Ulrich B. * Silkenat, David. ''Scars on the Land: An Environmental History of Slavery in the American South''. New York: Oxford University Press, 2022. * Thompson, Edgar Tristram. ''The Plantation'' edited by Sidney Mintz and George Baca (University of South Carolina Press; 2011) 176 pages; 1933 dissertation * Weiner, Marli Frances. ''Mistresses and Slaves: Plantation Women in South Carolina, 1830-80'' (1997) * White, Deborah G. ''Aren't I a Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South'' (2nd ed. 1999
excerpt and text search
* * Phillips, Ulrich B., ed. ''Plantation and Frontier Documents, 1649–1863; Illustrative of Industrial History in the Colonial and Antebellum South: Collected from MSS. and Other Rare Sources.'' 2 Volumes. (1909)
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* {{DEFAULTSORT:Plantation Complex History of the Southern United States History of agriculture in the United States Pre-emancipation African-American history