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See the fact file below for more information on the Slave Plantation System or alternatively, you can download our comprehensive worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
- During the 16th century, the Portuguese started the transatlantic slave trade. The majority of the slaves were shipped to Spanish and Portuguese colonies in South America while 6% of them went to the English plantations in North America.
- The organized shipment of slaves was called triangular slave trade or transatlantic slave trade. Slaves were taken from West Africa by English ships and shipped to the Caribbean in exchange for raw materials. Crops were then exported to England in order to produce manufactured goods that were once again transported to West Africa.
- Between the 16th and 19th century, historians believe that approximately 12 million African slaves entered the transatlantic slave trade.
- Africans became slaves for several reasons, but the majority were captured by opposing tribes and sold to slave traders.
- Slave ships were tightly packed, resulting in high mortality rates caused by disease, famine, abuse, and incidents of suicide.
Slave Plantation System in Farming
- Originally, indentured workers and prisoners from Britain worked as farmers on plantations. This kind of system was not enough to fill the growing demand for plantation workers.
- When the growth of sugar plantations took off, landowners started to import vast numbers of enslaved Africans from the Caribbean.
- About 84% of African slaves were brought to the New World because of the demand from sugar plantations.
- In the early 1700s, “slave codes” were passed securing the legal rights of slave owners and the status of slaves.
- Enslaved Africans did all kinds of work. Most of them worked in tobacco, cotton and sugarcane fields.
- Some slaves were house servants and helpers at their master’s house or trading stores. They usually lived in the kitchen and stables. Those who worked on farms lived in small houses near the plantations. They were able to establish small communities and had some privacy from the master.
- Field slaves were given one set of clothes a year. Women wore long dresses while men were in pants and loose shirts. House slaves usually wore their master’s old clothes.
- During the 1600s, some Native Americans were also forced into slavery.
- Land that was divided into smaller areas and owned by private individuals became known as the plantation system. During the 17th century, the process of settling colonies in the New World was called transplantation. Large plantations were organized to produce huge marketable staples.
- Field slaves worked for 18 hours a day, especially during harvest season.
- By the late 18th century, slave-markets were established in the ports of Philadelphia, Charleston, Richmond and New Orleans instead of transporting slaves from the Caribbean.
- Plantation owners encouraged women slaves to have children at the age of 13 in order to replenish the losses caused by the high death rate. Some owners promised them freedom after having 15 children.
- On the coastal lowlands of South Carolina, Georgia rice plantations needed 30 to 50 slaves. Slaves used the “task system” because rice cultivation was a delicate process. They were given specific tasks to fulfill each day. Slaves in lowland rice plantations suffered dreadful illness and were often not able to have children.
- Tobacco plantations were less sickly for slaves, thus natural reproduction helped the population grow.
- During the 1790s, Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin ignited the massive growth of the cotton industry.
- Cotton plantations expanded to Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana, thus so did extensive slavery.
- Like in tobacco plantations, slaves were organized into gangs and were directly supervised by masters, also known as overseers and slave drivers.
- Compared to other plantations, cotton slaves had better nutrition due to the cycle of growing cotton. Slaves were able to cultivate corn and keep pigs.
- Sugar plantations in southern Louisiana required huge capital investments and were highly profitable for the owners but very unhealthy for slaves.
- Every decade, thousands of slaves moved across the South through the interstate slave trade. Planters were allowed to sell and buy slaves from other planters.
- By the mid-1700s, almost half of the population living in the southern colonies were slaves. Owning a number of slaves became a symbol of wealth and social status for plantation owners.
- In 1807, both the British Parliament and U.S. Congress outlawed slave trading but internal slave trading continued until the abolition of slavery in 1865.
- In 1861, the American Civil War broke out between the northern (anti-slavery) and southern (pro-slavery) states. Eleven of the southern states broke away from the Union and established the Confederacy. They had their own constitution and president, Jefferson Davis.
- On January 1, 1863, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln declared the Emancipation Proclamation to free all slaves. The proclamation further ignited the Confederacy resulting in disobedience. On the other hand, black men joined the Union Army as they marched their way to free the South.
- On April 9, 1865, the Civil War ended after the defeat of General Robert E. Lee.
- Amidst the abolition of slavery, descendants of freed slaves continued to experience segregation and discrimination through Jim Crow laws.
Slave Plantation System Worksheets
This bundle includes 11 ready-to-use Slave Plantation System worksheets that are perfect for students to learn about Slave Plantation System which in 1607, English settlers established the first colony on the east coast of the New World, named Jamestown, Virginia. Originally, territorial expansion was for English small farmers to crop tobacco and cotton for export to Europe.
This download includes the following worksheets:
- Slave Plantation System Facts
- The Middle Passage
- Terms to Remember
- Plantation and House Slaves
- Cropping Plantations
- Whitney’s Cotton Gin
- From Slavery to Freedom
- Cause and Effect
- Picture Clips
- Complete the Crossword
- Then and Now
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Link will appear as Slave Plantation System Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, February 8, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.