The Planters of Virginia, Maryland, Georgia and the Carolinas - North American Colonies

Taken from The British Empire in the Nineteenth Century (1898) by Edgar Sanderson

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born in Massachusetts. New York glories in having given birth to Washington Irving, a prince among essayists, admirable in fiction, and in Spanish history and romance, most loveable of men.

The Southern Group, including Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, were all nominally attached, in religious faith, to the Anglican Church, and contained a population which, in its upper class of large planters, was connected in blood, as existing names show, with families of high standing in the mother-country. There were large numbers of negroes and of inferior whites, chiefly engaged in the cultivation, at this period, of tobacco, to be followed, at a later date, by cotton. Three men of high distinction, including one of the first rank in the world's history, came forth from Virginia to aid the colonial cause in the struggle for independence. Their names are George Washington; Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States; and Patrick Henry, a man of Scottish blood, the greatest of American orators. The social life of these states differed widely from that which was developed further north. Plantations took the place of populous towns and villages, and every estate was a little kingdom in itself, with a large slave population, including men of every trade, and ruled by a proprietor who, in the main, was a just and generous master. His house, often rich in costly furniture and plate, and displaying a high degree of refinement and luxury in the mode of living, was the scene of boundless hospitality to neighbours, and to all well-conducted strangers arriving from other parts of the colonies or from lands beyond the seas. A chief point of rivalry amongst wealthy planters was the possession of fine horses, and the English fox-hunter who might visit the southern colonies would often be able there to enjoy the excitement of the chase, and listen to the music of well-trained hounds in full cry. Apart from the mansion of the owner would be seen the negro quarters, with their poultry-yards and gardens, and the settlement was completed by the great sheds for the "curing" of tobacco, the workshops for smiths, carpenters, and other craftsmen, and the mills for grinding wheat and maize. A pleasant picture of life in "Ole Virginny", as the negroes styled the land, may be found in the noble fiction of Thackeray which forms the sequel to his immortal Henry Esmond.

Such was the fine, flourishing, and promising colonial dominion which the motherland was to see torn apart, by the colonists' own … continue reading »

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