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Plantations

Plantations

BIBLIOGRAPHY

A plantation is an economic unit producing agricultural commodities (field crops or horticultural products, but not livestock) for sale and employing a relatively large number of unskilled laborers whose activities are closely supervised. Plantations usually employ a year-round labor crew of some size, and they usually specialize in the production of only one or two marketable products. They differ from other kinds of farms in the way in which the factors of production, primarily management and labor, are combined.

Typically, the plantation is large as farm organizations go, but it does not derive its essential character from size alone. Many so-called family farms are larger in area and often in value of product than some plantations, and the larger mechanized wheat and cotton farms of the American West are the equal of plantations in these measures and in capital employed as well.

Plantation organization of agricultural production is not a necessary consequence of large ownership units, nor does it require large land ownership. When extensive methods of cultivation are appropriate, the large holding may be farmed as a unit by highly mechanized methods and with a small labor force. When more labor-intensive methods are economical, the landlord may lease out his property to tenants who make most or all of the management decisions. On the other hand, a plantation may lease a number of small ownership units to form an economic unit, or numerous landowners may pool their land to form a cooperative plantation.

Another characteristic frequently associated with plantations is a relatively high degree of vertical integration, even of self-sufficiency. This may result when required inputs or processing facilities are not available locally and hence must be supplied by the plantation itself; or when processing plants built to supply an international market establish their own plantations in order to insure an adequate supply of raw-material inputs. Vertical integration and self-sufficiency are, of course, not limited to plantations.

Privately operated plantations are most prominent in the growing of tropical tree crops and other perennials, particularly if sugar can be included in this category. Of the principal export crops of the tropics, coffee, tea, bananas, sugar, and rubber come primarily from plantations; and plantations are major factors in the production of palm products. But small holders produce about one-half of the world’s oil palm products and are the principal producers of cocoa, rice, and, in the tropics, of peanuts and cotton. Small holders in the tropics also produce significant supplies of bananas, coffee, sugar, rubber, and copra. Plantations, moreover, are not confined to tree crops or to tropical crops. In the tropics, for example, they have been important producers of manioc (tapioca), and in the temperate zones, of cotton. The apparent association of plantations with perennials results, at least in part, from the difficulty of mechanizing the production of these crops; in the tropics this difficulty stems largely from the shortage of skilled labor. Degree of mechanization, quality of the labor supply, and the importance of tree crops may, of course, all be interrelated.

Private plantations were the principal source of increasing supplies of tropical agricultural commodities throughout the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. The early twentieth century brought a great expansion of tropical plantations to supply European and American demand for such exotic commodities as coffee, tea, cocoa, bananas, palm and coconut oil, and rubber. The private plantation was still a major source of tropical commodities in the 1950s, especially in Asia and Latin America.

Post-World War II developments. The plantation depends on a plentiful supply of cheap labor, not in the sense that its cost is low in relation to its productivity but in the absolute sense that wages are low because skills are few. For the plantation derives whatever economic advantage it has from its ability to mobilize unskilled labor to achieve greater economic return. Other special advantages of the plantation derive not from its greater efficiency in production but from the ability to exploit market imperfections or to manipulate them to its advantage. As the range of economic opportunities for rural labor in the underdeveloped world has increased with economic progress and the relaxing of administrative restrictions that closed various occupations to specified ethnic groups, it has seemed probable that plentiful supplies of unskilled labor might no longer be available to plantations at wages they could afford to pay. However, pessimistic predictions of the economic future of plantations made after World War II have not been fulfilled, and their number and importance have not been much altered by market forces; political factors, on the other hand, have been a major influence.

As most of the colonial territories of the world achieved political independence in the first two decades after World War II, the economic power inherent in large foreign-owned plantations was frequently regarded as a threat to the autonomy of the new national governments. As a consequence, new restraints were imposed on private plantations, when they were not expropriated outright, and political favors that they had enjoyed in the past were withdrawn.

While the new governments’ concern for independence in the realm of economic decisions made profitable plantation operation increasingly difficult, another set of circumstances threatened their existence as integral units. For a variety of reasons, including the desire to assure continued popular support, nostalgia for earlier ways of rural life, and a desire to reduce the excessive movement from farm to city with its consequent high rate of urban unemployment and civil unrest, there was a strong sentiment in many of the new governments for subdivision of large plantations into small, individual farming units. Subdivision might also, of course, be a device for destroying the threat to national sovereignty that private plantations were thought to offer.

At the same time that the shift in political power made the future of private plantations more precarious, the publicly owned plantation and semipublic plantation found increasing favor as devices for consolidating political power and for accelerating economic growth. Plans for establishing state farms, collectives, and cooperatives after the Soviet or Israeli model were widely advocated and frequently adopted. Those large farming units that were established to introduce laborsaving mechanical cultivation and harvesting fall outside our classification to the extent that mechanization was achieved. Often, however, the reduction of labor inputs fell far short of anticipations, and the new government farms, like private plantations, continued to employ relatively large numbers of unskilled laborers working under close supervision. In concept, government plantations of tree crops and perennials were very much like the private ones.

A type of quasi-plantation, sometimes called group farming, also enjoyed a certain vogue in the years immediately after World War II. Outstanding examples are the Gezira Scheme in the Sudan, which had its beginnings in the 1920s, and the paysannats indigènes of the Belgian Congo, which had their greatest expansion in the 1950s. In both, actual farming operations were carried on by large numbers of individual farmers—share tenants in the Sudan, holders under customary tenure in the Congo—whose activities were so regulated as to permit the economic employment of resources beyond the means of individual farmers.

Economic advantages. Under certain circumstances the plantation, either private or public, enjoys distinct economic advantages over other types of farm organization. When it is desirable to introduce a new technology requiring a radical change in cultural practices, the plantation substitutes supervision—supervisory and administrative skills—for skilled, adaptive labor, combining the supervision with labor whose principal skill is to follow orders. The new technology may center on a new crop, as for example, rubber in Malaya, or it may simply enhance new methods for producing a familiar crop, as with palm oil in the Congo. Among a literate and educated population with knowledge of a wide range of farming methods and high receptivity to innovation, new techniques can spread fairly rapidly in response to economic incentives, extension services, and the efforts of commercial suppliers of inputs and buyers of products. New techniques and new crops have also been adopted in this way when the farm population was illiterate and supporting services were few but economic incentives were strong and the new techniques not difficult to understand. It was in just this way that the cocoa industry of southern Ghana was established. This method of generating new supplies takes time—how long depends on circumstances outside the control of any individual.

Under the same circumstances, the plantation employs a few highly skilled managers who command the full technology and supervisory skills as well. By combining as many unskilled farm laborers as possible with each skilled supervisor–manager, the plantation can initiate the desired change at once.

A somewhat analogous situation obtains when the agricultural population is only partially committed to the market economy. Then money income may be desired only in order to meet specific responsibilities, such as taxes or bridewealth, or to purchase individual items that cannot be obtained otherwise; amounts greater than are needed for a specific payment or purchase are likely to be little valued. This phenomenon, sometimes called target demand, is most likely to occur in a society with only rudimentary development of the market system. Where it is found, it may be difficult to secure a steady flow of raw materials from farms within easy reach of processing plants or ports as one group of farmers after another satisfies its immediate need for cash. A plantation located near the demand point can employ a succession of laborers who come at their own expense in search of employment to satisfy their specific needs. Plantation laborers so engaged may be tied by contract to assure employers of their services for a minimum period of time.

Given the widespread familiarity with the uses of money that has been acquired in the twentieth century and the increasing familiarity with, and demand for, manufactured goods that has marked the years since World War II, it is unlikely that target demand continues to provide the plantation with special advantages.

When introduction of a new technique requires heavy investment of soil or water conservation and the expected period of amortization is long, the recapture of economic benefits requires an economic unit larger than the small farm. The plantation is one way to achieve this. Other devices are available. Projects of this sort have been carried through by community effort, with costs borne by owners of land that gains from the investment or by development districts, with power to tax. Land taxes, however, are ineffectual when land is not owned in fee simple; they are impracticable, because of the cost of collection, when landholdings are excessively small. Group farming schemes like those mentioned, under which occupation is at the pleasure of a central authority, facilitate the imposition of the burden of such large investments on those who benefit directly from them.

Installations of the type discussed here can be, and have been, constructed by private companies that rely entirely, as the typical development district relies in part, on the sale of services to recover costs and to realize an economic return. But unless the legal code sanctions debt slavery, the sales contract is likely to be difficult to enforce where farmers have few assets other than their own labor and that of their families.

The complementarity between agricultural processing plants and farm producing units has been one consideration in the establishment of plantations. Many of the major tropical export crops must undergo preliminary processing shortly after harvesting; for some of them—sugar, for example— processing plants large enough to achieve minimum costs require a relatively heavy capital investment and volume flow of output. Others, like black tea, demand careful handling and strict control of processing if a quality product is to be obtained.

It is possible, of course, to obtain adequate supplies of raw product for such processing plants from independent farmers if they are sufficiently skilled and commercially motivated and if the price offered is sufficiently high. If not, the processor may find advantage in direct production through a plantation organization. In some instances, an attempt to recapture costs sunk in an inconvertible, fixed plant may lead the processor to engage in plantation production that would be uneconomic otherwise, particularly if income tax laws permit him to pool returns from the two enterprises.

Market imperfections favoring the plantation may result either because merchants in the normal channels of trade cannot handle the necessary volume of product and maintain its quality as it moves from producer to processor or port or because, through collusion or monopoly, merchants are able to enforce their prices on a multitude of small farmers.

Imperfections of the first kind are critical when the quality of the product is highly sensitive to the way in which it is handled after the harvest. This may explain the prominent part that plantations play in production of bananas for export. When imperfections of the second kind are present, plantations that control a sufficiently large supply can bargain on equal terms with collusive buyers. These, of course, are advantages of size that may be shared by large mechanized farms. They are most likely to be found, however, in the same economic environment that favors the plantation organization; imperfect development of the market mechanism and an uninformed rural population tend to be found together.

Large supplies of high quality can be obtained from small producers by paying appropriate premiums for products that meet the desired standards. The most striking illustration of what can be done is the achievement of the Nigerian marketing board in upgrading supplies of palm oil coming from small producers simply by paying a sufficient premium (perhaps an uneconomic premium) for oil of the desired grade. Proper handling of the product after it leaves the farm can be encouraged by taking measures to improve the general marketing system or by removing the product from normal channels of trade and entrusting it to a cooperative marketing association or government agency.

Imperfections in the capital market probably bias economic opportunities in favor of plantations more than do imperfections in the product market. They are particularly acute in societies where small holders cannot offer their farms or groves as security for loans, either because they are forbidden to do so by law or because customary land tenure makes no provision for alienation. The plantation has access to international capital markets that cannot be drawn on by small operators and would probably not be available to farm credit banks or perhaps even to national governments seeking funds for small holders.

Economies of scale in the advanced agriculture of the United States result primarily from the use of laborsaving machinery that can be most effectively employed on moderately large areas. But even mechanized farms reach a point of constant costs at moderate size; for production of most crops it is markedly smaller than the larger plantation. Where plantations are important, the limited alternative occupations open to the rural population make laborsaving devices less attractive. Indivisibility of machine-capital dictates a minimum size of efficient operation in the industrialized countries. In economies where the plantation finds an advantage in combining large amounts of unskilled labor with skilled supervisor-managers, it is the indivisibility and high cost of skilled supervision that make small operations unprofitable.

Economies of size also result from other causes, essentially from the ability of the large unit to provide itself with services that are supplied by other agencies in the economically advanced countries. In the industrialized countries agricultural research is liberally financed by government; in the poorer countries of the world it may be undertaken by private corporations for the direct benefit of their own plantations, an expenditure that would not be feasible if the operation were small. Where roads and bridges are not provided by the state, the plantation may build them, just as it may find profitable the provision of rail transport, communication systems, docks and warehouses, and supplies of water, electricity, and other utilities that are available from the state or from regulated companies in the developed countries. This category may also include such services as soil analysis and application of fertilizers and pesticides, which in North America and western Europe can be obtained from vendors of the products used, from independent specialists, or from the government.

It is apparent that economies of size which the plantation enjoys and the competitive advantages it is able to seize in the product and factor markets, all derive from the same circumstances that make employment of large gangs of supervised laborers economically attractive—the rudimentary nature of the economic order and the limited dissemination of knowledge to the population. Imperfect knowledge, restricted access to the factors of production, and restricted access to product markets create a climate in which this particular form of farm organization thrives.

Political advantages. Other reasons besides efficiency in production have caused political administrators to look on plantations with favor. They have been encouraged as a means of pacifying colonial areas and territories being brought under a central authority because their capacity to sustain themselves in economically isolated areas and to create the essential elements of infrastructure have enabled them to assume some of the responsibilities of internal security, communication, and public services that would otherwise fall on government. Plantation concessions intended to serve these purposes of economic development and extension of political power have sometimes included police and juridical authority as well. Thus plantations may serve as an arm of the central government, sometimes the only arm of government in frontier areas. In some instances, the exercise of political authority has been the principal, and farming only the nominal, activity of plantations.

The plantation type of organization may also be attractive to governments seeking revenues to be used for fostering economic growth, for enforcing or extending political authority, or for the personal aggrandizement of the chief of state. It is much more difficult for the plantation to resist taxation than it is for the small farmer among so many or for the shifting cultivator buried in the bush country. The taxes to be wrung from a single plantation are also much greater than those to be gotten from the small peasant cultivator who consumes the greater part of what he grows and whose small cash income may be spent as soon as it is received, or buried in the ground.

Criticisms of the system. A principal criticism made of the plantation, as contrasted with a farming system dependent on small, independent farms, has been that wage laborers on plantations have less incentive to perform their tasks well than does the independent farmer, whether owner or tenant. To the extent that this is true, the obvious explanation would seem to be that reward corresponds more closely to effort when the farmer operates his own farm than when he enters into wage employment. It is also argued, however, that the small farmer exerts greater care in the cultivation of his own land because of his emotional attachment to it and that the biological character of farming and the lack of uniformity of the natural resources it employs require that decisions be made currently in the field by farmers who have intimate knowledge of their own farms, of the microclimates in which they lie, and of the crops they grow and injuries to which they may be susceptible.

Attachment to the land and to a particular parcel of land is a widespread, though not universal, characteristic of human society. But the economic advance of all the industrial countries has been marked by migration from farm to town and by a decline in the farm labor force. In the developing countries today, this movement to the cities is no less marked. Obviously, attachment to the land, however real, has not been strong enough to overcome for many the appeal of higher income, greater amenities, and sociability that city life can offer. The plantation can, and often does, offer to its employees many of the advantages sought in the town—schools, medical services, shops, entertainment, modern housing and utilities, even a certain social life—and they sometimes provide individual farmsteads on which the laborer and his family can work for their own interest when not engaged in work for wages in the field. Nevertheless, the problem of the relationship between effort and reward remains, just as it does in all wage employment.

Even on the small independent farm, however, the connection between the work the farmer does and the income he receives is not as simple or as certain as the incentive argument suggests. For sons and daughters in the farm household it need not be close at all if tasks and rewards are assigned by the parents. Small wonder, then, that farm children are often attracted into wage employment where payment always bears some relationship to the laborer’s contribution.

For the farmer himself, effort and skill may be assumed to correlate with income over the years, but uncertainties of weather, of pests and disease, and of price often cause the year-to-year correlation to be erratic. Wage employment can be an attractive alternative if it provides a similar average level of income, if wages are related to the worker’s productive contribution, and if reasonable security of employment can be assured. It is where this has not been the case that the incentive argument carries weight; and far too often plantation wages have been absolutely low and wages of individuals not much influenced by productivity. The poor performance of collective and state farms in the Soviet Union seems to be a case in point. The Soviet government, in its drive to build the industrial sector of the economy, made heavy demands on its large farms, with consequent low returns to farm workers. Wages of workers on many private plantations, too, have often been no more than enough to support the laborer himself, with no provision for wife and family, and contract employment has tended to divorce effort from reward.

There seems to be no inherent reason why plantation wages cannot be as effective an incentive as industrial wages. If the plantation is unable to pay at rates comparable to those that can be earned in other employment, there must be considerable doubt that it is an efficient way of organizing farm production.

The criticism of plantations that rests on the need for the individual farmer’s recognition of microvariation of soil and climate and the ability to identify the condition of growing crops is similarly unconvincing. On the plantation this is the responsibility of the skilled supervisor, and the area over which he can have this knowledge, though limited, is considerably larger than that of the small farm with which the plantation usually competes. If he can implement his production decisions, there would seem to be no reason why he cannot obtain results as good as or better than the small farmer’s.

Prospects for the system. From the standpoint of national welfare, the plantation can make a positive contribution to economic and technical change at that stage of economic growth at which it has in fact enjoyed its greatest prosperity—when an ill-informed peasantry in an elementary market system is faced with the need for rapid transformation of farming practices. The plantation brings forth desired increases in production more rapidly, and it can transmit the new technology to the agricultural population generally through the experience of farm laborers in its employ. The experience of the southeastern Ivory Coast, where African farmers now dominate a coffee industry originally established by private European planters, despite discriminatory legislation favoring the European, is a case in point. As a device for rapid transmission of knowledge about new production methods at low cost, the plantation will continue to play a useful role in the developing countries until the marketing and communication system is much more efficient and until the mass of independent farmers are in a position to tap directly the store of agricultural and economic knowledge.

Plantations can achieve these results because they rely primarily on the wage contract to obtain compliance in societies where compliance with a sales or purchase contract is difficult to enforce. As the society is progressively modified through the spread of the market system, and restrictions on access to factors, markets, and information weaken, the economic justification declines. But the plantation may persist beyond the time when it is economically more efficient than other forms of farm organization because of the political and economic power it wields. This same power, plus the pressure of sunk costs, may make the output of the plantation less responsive to new economic and technical changes than would be a comparable output from a large number of smaller independent farms. Like all large organizations, its size permits broad implementation of decisions: when these are wise decisions, the appropriate response can be more rapid than that of a number of independent firms; when unwise, they can inhibit response and delay adjustment. A farming system made up of a large number of small farmers experiences a multitude of decisions, some wise and some foolish, and relies on the market to reward those who have chosen well and punish those who have not. When the plantation prospers, it is because the capacity of its management to make and implement wise decisions is very much greater than that of independent farmers.

William O. Jones

[See alsoAsian Society, article onSoutheast asia; Economy, Dual.]

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bauer, Peter T. 1948 The Rubber Industry: A Study in Competition and Monopoly. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press.

Courtenay, Philip P. 1965 Plantation Agriculture. New York: Praeger.

Coene, R. De 1956 Agricultural Settlement Schemes in the Belgian Congo. Tropical Agriculture 33:1–12.

Commonwealth Economic CommitteePlantation Crops.→ Published since 1932.

Greaves, Ida C. 1935 Modern Production Among Backward Peoples. London: Allen & Unwin.

International labour Organisation, committee on work on plantations, 5th Session, Geneva, 1966 1966 [Reports.] Geneva: The Organisation.

Pim, Alan W. 1946 Colonial Agricultural Production: The Contribution Made by Native Peasants and by Foreign Enterprise. Oxford Univ. Press.

Wickizer, Vernon D. 1958 The Plantation System in the Development of Tropical Economies. Journal of Farm Economics 40:63–77.

Wickizer, Vernon D. 1960 The Smallholder in Tropical Export Crop Production. Stanford University, Food Research Institute, Food Research Institute Studies 1:49–99.

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Plantation

Plantation

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Often defined as a total institution, even as a prison camp, the plantation has been represented as both a type of social institution and an agricultural organization. The historical significance of this socioeconomic complex stems largely from its function in capitalist agricultural production, where it has been considered instrumental both in the creation and persistence of economic under-development of those tropical areas where it dominated, and in the industrialization of northern Atlantic economies. In his influential text Persistent Poverty (1972), agricultural economist George Beckford, building on the seminal ideas of Lloyd Best (1968), argued that while the plantation incorporated all regions where it dominated in the larger developing world economy, as a type of economic organization it did so unevenly, driving the modernization of regions of the northern Atlantic, particularly Britain, at the expense of those in the south, including the U.S. South. However, other scholars, notably Robert Fogel and Stanley Engerman (1974), countered this perspective and held that U.S. southern plantation economies were a variant of capitalism. Such plantations, they argued, were highly productive and profitable, and the U.S. Souths comparative advantages as an agricultural zone accounted for its limited or nonindustrialization.

The plantation economies of the Americas incorporated thousands of mainly African laborers, unskilled and enslaved, both free and indentured, who produced for the home and/or export market, as occurred in the U.S. South, the Caribbean, and South America. They labored on both small plantations as in the U.S. South with enslaved labor locked into paternalistic or overtly coercive relationships and large-scale, highly regimented, exploitative factory-like labor-force control. Plantation agriculture thus bespoke a peculiar mix of capital and labor processes. Consequently, debates emerged over its economic modus operandi and labor organization. These modes of production debates, prevalent during the mid-1970s through the 1980s, turned on whether slaves were proletarians or an in-between labor form, and whether the plantation was capitalist or not. While no scholar disputed the triangulated relationship between plantations and areas of the protoindustrializing Atlantic, differences emerged about how to characterize its relationship to the emergent capitalist economic system. Generally, several analysts saw the plantation as articulated with capitalism but distinct from it, while primarily non-Marxists viewed the emergent global market (then mercantile) as the critical defining element of the capitalist world system, given slaverys facilitation of wage labor and the circulation of commodities primarily from then-emergent industrialized countries. This view was particularly prevalent among world-system theorists such as Immanuel Wallerstein (1979), who stressed relational historical developments.

Hotly debated also were questions centering on the cultures and personalities found on plantations. For example, Eric Williams (1944) saw racialization as an outcome of plantation slavery. Others averred that plantation slavery was itself a product of racialized thinking. These provocative positions were joined by questions about the social consequences of slaverys economic and racial divisions. Comparing Latin America and the U.S. South in his influential 1959 text, Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life, Stanley Elkins compared the closed authoritarian system of the plantation to Nazisms psychic destruction and concluded that plantation slavery resulted in a psychological stripping of the slave, thereby producing an infantile Sambo mentality or personality. Elkinss Sambo-type personality resonated with stereotypical representations of blacks found in earlier American classics, such as the films Birth of a Nation and Gone with the Wind, the latter adapted from Margaret Mitchells 1936 best seller. In the former, freed and outof-control Sambos visited disorder and chaos upon a highly racialized, gendered, and segregated South ostensibly preoccupied with protecting the virtues of white womanhood, while in the latter, blacks were stereotyped props for a melodramatic Southern romance. But these representations of the docile slave were swiftly undercut by other studies documenting modes of resistance that spelled agency rather than passivity, and later there emerged other perspectives that complicated those notions as well.

Eugene Genoveses Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made (1976) would shift the discussion toward more detailed research on the sociocultural nature of plantation life and its impact on the U.S. South. In this seminal work, Genovese explored the masterslave relationship, arguing that masters and slaves transactions were paternalist in nature. For him such a hegemonic relation yielded a tacit realization and acceptance by both slave and master of their symbiotic roles within the slavery complex. In other words, slaves and masters realized their dependence on each other, and the so-called exploitative relation stressed by other analysts was shaped essentially by familial practices that tempered the incidence of slave revolts.

Several scholars have contested Genoveses conclusions and highlighted the need to distinguish between physical domination and hegemony, thereby undermining his romanticization of the planter class and his thesis of slaves willful participation in the plantation-slavery complex. Moreover, analysts point to the pitfalls of reading slaves practices within the slave system from generalized conclusions culled from too few planters in a large-scale plantation-slave complex that covered the U.S. South. Such perspectives suggest that dependent connections do not negate the incidence of exploitative relationships, nor do they prohibit the development of spaces for creating and articulating futures that are different from those the planters may have envisioned. Subsequent scholarship, which has focused on strategies of maneuver and on processes of culture building by the enslaved, tends to bear this out.

SEE ALSO Slave Trade; Slavery Industry

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Anderson, James D. 1976. Aunt Jemima in Dialectics: Genovese on Slave Culture. Review of Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made, by Eugene D. Genovese. Journal of Negro History 61 (1): 99114.

Beckford, George L. 1972. Persistent Poverty: Underdevelopment in Plantation Economies of the Third World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Best, Lloyd. 1968. The Mechanism of Plantation Type Economies: Outlines of a Model of Pure Plantation Economy. Social and Economic Studies 17 (3): 283326.

Elkins, Stanley. 1959. Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968.

Fogel, Robert W., and Stanley L. Engerman. 1974. Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery. Boston: Little, Brown.

Genovese, Eugene, D. 1976. Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made. New York: Vintage.

Mintz, Sidney. 1978. Was the Plantation Slave a Proletarian? Review 2 (1): 8198.

Mitchell, Margaret. 1936 [1961]. Gone with the Wind. New York: Macmillan.

Thompson, Edgar T. 1975. Plantation Societies, Race Relations, and the South: The Regimentation of Populations: Selected Papers of Edgar T. Thompson. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Tomich, Dale. 2004. Through the Prism of Slavery: Labor, Capital and World Economy. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1979. The Capitalist World-Economy: Essays. Cambridge, U.K. and New York: Cambridge University Press.

Williams, Eric. 1944. Capitalism and Slavery. London: Andre Deutsch, 1967.

Michaeline A. Crichlow

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plantations

plantations was the name employed for colonial settlements and the supervising body of the first British empire was known as the Board of Trade and Plantations. One of the earliest attempts was Sir Humphrey Gilbert's expedition to Newfoundland which failed and cost him his life (1583). His half-brother Sir Walter Ralegh sponsored the equally ill-fated attempt on Roanoke Island (Virginia), which began in 1585 and was deserted by 1589. American settlement resumed in James I's reign with Virginia (1607), Plymouth (1620), followed by Massachusetts Bay (1628), Maryland (1634), Connecticut (1635), Rhode Island (1636), and New Haven (1638). Gilbert and Ralegh were also much involved in the Tudor plantations of Ireland. After the initial expedition by Pembroke (Strongbow) in the 12th cent., the English Pale had led a precarious existence. A new series of plantations began in the reign of Mary and Philip (Queen's County and King's County), was continued by Elizabeth, and urged on by James I and Charles I, who encouraged English and Scottish settlement in Ulster. During the Commonwealth, many of Cromwell's soldiers were given vast estates in Ireland. Native Irish resistance to expropriation was a factor in the risings of 1598 and 1641 and in the support given to James II after 1688. The effect of the Tudor and Stuart plantations was to set the pattern of Irish politics for the next 400 years.

J. A. Cannon

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plantations

plantations Plantation economies developed in the course of European economic and social expansion, particularly in Latin America and South-east Asia. They are associated with a large-scale, limited range of export-oriented, staple-crop production in tropical or sub-tropical environments.

The traditional form of plantation was associated with slave labour. The socio-economic system that resulted was, in many cases, regarded as synonymous with the organization of colonies because of the investment of foreign capital and transfer of wealth from periphery to core. Historical changes have led to a variety of modern forms of plantation, ranging from those based in labour-intensive cultivation (often making widespread use of migrant or other unskilled unfree labourers), to more capital-intensive agro-industrial enterprises. In general, plantation agriculture is regarded as being exploitative of labour, land, and developing nations.

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Plantations

PLANTATIONS


The term plantation originally referred to a colony or new settlement with a planned system of planting. Plantation in American culture gradually evolved to refer to an extensive agricultural enterprise based on slave labor. It would have been similar to a very large, often self-suffcient, farm.

The first plantations appeared in Virginia in the seventeenth century. Settlers began growing tobacco in the rich coastal plains where ocean tides swept up the rivers. Quickly, they realized bigger profits were possible by cultivating tobacco on a large scale. White indentured servants first provided the labor but soon gave way to black slavery. The great tobacco plantations became the hallmark of colonies in Virginia, Maryland, and the Upper South colony of North Carolina. By the 1720s, plantations appeared in South Carolina and Georgia. George Washington (17321799), Patrick Henry (17361799), Thomas Jefferson (17431826), and James Madison (17511836) were among the planters.

The greatest expansion of the plantation system occurred between 1790 and 1860. It was spurred by a more efficient textile industry in New England and Britain's increased the demand for cotton. Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin enabled cotton to be cleaned and readied for market at a rapid pace. Cotton became so valuable that large areas of the "New South," including western Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas, were planted. By 1830 cotton accounted for half of all U.S. exports. Although small family farms worked by the owners grew most of the cotton, the great cotton plantation became the ideal of Southern society. The richest 10 percent of planters owned almost 65 percent of the farm wealth and dominated Southern political and social life as well. A planter was defined by the number of slaves owned rather than by acres owned. Only three percent of planters owned more than 20 slaves, but over 100 slaves worked the grandest plantations.

Typical Southern plantations were self sufficient communities with a mansion for the owner and his family, stables, kitchen, blacksmith shop, extensive gardens, and slave quarters. They encompassed thousands of acres of fertile land with access to waterways for shipping.

While most planters managed the plantation themselves, some hired overseers to help direct the slave workforce. Planters' wives were generally second in command supervising the entire household operation.

Slaves worked dawn to dusk in the fields. The more slaves a planter had the more productive his plantation. Emancipation of slaves at the conclusion of the American Civil War (18611865) brought the plantation era to a close.

See also: Cotton Gin, King Cotton

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Plantation

Plantation, city (1990 pop. 66,692), Broward co., SE Fla., a residential suburb of Fort Lauderdale; inc. 1953. The city has grown rapidly along with the development of S Florida. Major housing developments and the presence of banking companies have marked Plantation's urban boom. The National Hockey League's Florida Panthers play in neighboring Sunrise.

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plantation

plan·ta·tion / planˈtāshən/ • n. an estate on which crops such as coffee, sugar, and tobacco are cultivated by resident labor. ∎  an area in which trees have been planted, esp. for commercial purposes. ∎ hist. a colony.

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plantation

plantation A closely set stand of trees (other than an orchard), usually comprising 1 or 2 species, that has been planted by humans. Plantations do not maintain themselves. The ground is cleared and the trees planted, grown, and harvested like an arable crop.

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plantation

plantation A closely set stand of trees (other than an orchard) which has been planted by humans and usually comprises one or two species grown on land cleared for the purpose and harvested like an arable crop. Plantations do not maintain themselves.

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"plantation." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Apr. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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plantation

plantation an estate on which crops such as coffee, sugar, and tobacco are grown, especially in former colonies and as once worked by slaves.
plantation song a song of the kind formerly sung by black slaves on American plantations.

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Plantation

Plan·ta·tion / planˈtāshən/ a city in southeastern Florida, west of Fort Lauderdale; pop. 66,692.

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