Tobacco, one of the most important cash crops in American farming, is native to the North and South American continents. It first became known to the rest of the world when European explorers in the 15th and 16th centuries saw it being used as a medicine and as a hallucinogen by Native Americans. The maks returned to Europe with the new-found plant and it quickly was adopted by rich and poor alike as a drug of choice. Banned at first by kings and popes, its economic effects and mame popularity forced acceptance among all cultures. It quickly spread throughout the civilized world and became a foundation for the growth of the American economy. This paper will trace the history of tobacco from its use by Native Americans through the end of the 19th century when mechanization and mass marketing started to make tobacco production the major industry it has. The name is also used for the product manufactured from tobacco leaves and used in cigars, cigarettes, snuff, and pipe and chewing tobacco.
Tobacco was colonial Virginia ‘s most successful cash crop. The tobacco that the first English settlers encountered in Virginia—the Virginia Indians’ Nicotiana rustica —tasted dark and bitter to the English palate; it was John Rolfe who in obtained Spanish seeds, or Nicotiana tabacum , from the Orinoco River valley—seeds that, when planted in the relatively rich bottomland of the James River , produced a milder, yet still dark leaf that soon became the European standard. Over the next years, tobacco production spread from the Tidewater area to the Blue Ridge Mountains , especially dominating the agriculture of the Chesapeake region. Beginning in the General Assembly put in place requirements for the inspection of tobacco and mandated the creation of port towns and warehouses. This system assisted in the development of major settlements at Norfolk, Alexandria, and Richmond. Tobacco formed the basis of the colony’s economy: it was used to purchase the indentured servants and slaves to cultivate it, to pay local taxes and tithes, and to buy manufactured goods from England. Promissory notes payable in tobacco were even used as currency, with the cost of almost every commodity, from servants to wives, given in pounds of tobacco. Large planters usually shipped their tobacco directly to England, where consignment agents sold it in exchange for a cut of the profits, while smaller planters worked with local agents who bought their tobacco and supplied them with manufactured goods. In the mid-seventeenth century, overproduction and shipping disruptions related to a series of British wars caused the price of tobacco to fluctuate wildly. Prices stabilized again in the s and s, but the financial standings of small and large planters alike deteriorated throughout the s and into the s. By the advent of the American Revolution — , some planters had switched to growing food crops, particularly wheat ; many more began to farm these crops to support the war effort.
Chesapeake and Southern colonies
John Rolfe was an early settler of North America known for being the first person to cultivate tobacco in Virginia and for marrying Pocahontas. Rolfe arrived in Jamestown in with other settlers as part of a new charter organized by the Virginia Company. In , Rolfe married the daughter of a local Native American chieftain, Pocahontas. His new bride knew English well; she had been taken captive by previous English settlers and converted to Christianity. The couple sailed to England with their infant son Thomas in Seven months later, Pocahontas died as they prepared to travel home. Rolfe returned to Virginia, remarried and served a prominent role in the economic and political life of the colony until his death in The ship was caught in a hurricane in the Caribbean and wrecked on one of the Bermuda islands. The group finally arrived in Virginia, near the Jamestown settlement, in May , and Sarah died soon after their arrival.
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Hail thou inspiring plant! Thou balm of life, Well might thy worth engage two nations’ strife; Exhaustless fountain of Britannia’s wealth; Thou friend of wisdom and thou source of health. Tobacco, that outlandish weed It spends the brain, and spoiles the seede It dulls the spirite, it dims the sight It robs a woman of her right. As these two verses show, tobacco use has long been a controversial subject, considered by turns a vice, a panacea, an economic salvation and a foolish and dangerous habit. However, it was perceived, by the end of the seventeenth century tobacco had become the economic staple of Virginia, easily making her the wealthiest of the 13 colonies by the time of the American Revolution. On the morning of October 12, , Christopher Columbus set foot on a small island in the Bahamas. Believing himself to be off the coast of Asia, the Admiral dressed in his best to meet the local inhabitants. The Arawaks offered him some dried leaves as a token of friendship. Those leaves were tobacco. A few days later, a party from Columbus’ ship docked off the coast of Cuba and witnessed local peoples there smoking tobacco through Y-shaped tubes which they inserted in their noses, inhaling smoke until they lost consciousness. There is another secret herb. The Christians that do now inhabit there are become very desirous of this herb. Early on, the medicinal properties of tobacco were of great interest to Europe. Over a dozen books published around the middle of the sixteenth century mention tobacco as a cure for everything from pains in the joints to epilepsy to plague.
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Jamestown was established for two reasons: 1 as a base to harass Spanish shipping, and 2 as a commercial venture. By the time the colony was actually put on the ground, however, relations between Britian and Spain had improved tremendously, so the Crown quit caring about Jamestown. They provided no financial or military support. This left the commercial faction. They tried and tried to find a profitable product, and failed, until John Rolfe began growing tobacco in Growing tobacco became so popular, and profitable, that the colonists quit growing food, preferring to buy it from traders and local Natives.
Yes, two of every three people who arrived in Virginia between and died, but so many people came over to get rich off of tobacco that hte colony grew steadily during that period. The British established Jamestown hoping to find treasure like the Spanish did in Mexico and South America, this did not happen. The colony was seen as a failure until two crops which could not be oft in Europe began to flourish, tobacco and indigo.
These crops gave the financial support that the colony needed to survive. When John Rolfe invented tobaccoit turned into a major cash crop. Ot sold tons and made big tabaccco. That helped Jamestown a lot. Then women came over and they repopulated. Captain John Smith took the town’s food supply and locked it up. He would only let those who put in a days work receive food. Eventually, everyone went to work planting, growing, and selling tobacco. Therefore allowing for trade and continuance of the town since england rellied on them for the tobacco.
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RaNisha J. Answer Save. Morgan How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer. Stephanie Lv 4. Od Site Might Help You. RE: How did tobacco save jamestown? Jim P Lv 4. It was the first successful cash crop in the Virginia Colony.
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America the Story of Us: Life in Jamestown — History
Virginia’s economic future did not lie with gold. Jamesyown was too little gold to be found. Looking for new ways to make its investments pay dividends, the Virginia Company of London began encouraging multiple ventures by Jamestown settlers experimented with glassblowingvineyard cultivation, and even silkworm farming. Despite efforts to diversify Virginia’s ajmestown, by the end of the s only one Virginia crop odf drawing a fair market price in England: tobacco. Tobacco was introduced to Europe by the Spanish, who had learned to smoke it from Native Americans. Despite some early criticism of «drinking smoke,» tobacco became popular among the middle classes in England. Much of the tobacco smoked in England was grown in the West Indies. There is an herb called uppowoc, which sows jamesyown. In the West Indies it has several names, according to the different places where it grows and is used, but the Spaniards generally call it tobacco. Its leaves are dried, made into powder, and then smoked by being sucked through clay pipes into the stomach and head. The fumes purge superfluous phlegm and gross humors from the body by mucn all the pores and passages. Thus its use not only preserves the body, but if there are any obstructions it breaks them up. By this means the natives keep in excellent health, without many of the grievous diseases which often afflict us in England.