American Pageant-13th Edition: Dbq 1

In 1606, hundreds of settlers embarked on a journey from England to the Virginia colony, in search of wealth and treasure. Although they experienced much destitution early on in their journey, they were able to transform their colony with the use of the indentured servants and slaves by basing their economy around tobacco. With tobacco, they were able to create an industry in which the colonists would depend on socially and economically. The journey for the new colonist was brutal. They were crammed onto ships, so communicable diseases spread very easily.
There was little food, so many of them died of starvation. When they finally arrived, they were introduced to even more diseases. On top of starvation, and chronic diseases, some died in wars. The most common cause of death for the new colonist was famine. Some of the colonists said that there were never any Englishmen left in a foreign country in such misery as their newly discovered Virginia. After they reached Virginia, they were given contracts with various people who had already settled there. With the use of tobacco, they transformed their economy.
The demand for tobacco products in Europe was increasing, and the Virginians knew it. The tobacco rush soon swept over Virginia. The father of the tobacco industry, John Rolfe, became an economic savior in 1612, when he perfected methods of raising and curing the pungent weed. The colonists now focused most of their attention, concentration, and energy on planting this demanded crop. They had created one of the first products to be marketed with name-brand advertising. The industry had now built the economic foundation for the colony of Virginia.

However, intense tobacco farming depleted the rich Virginia soil. The vile weed would soon ruin the soil and eventually make it unfit for planting in subsequent years. Due to the barren lands after planting, there became an increased demand for large-acre plantations. When more tobacco was planted to fill the needs of the Europeans, there also became a need for more labor. A massive workforce was now needed to work the new tobacco plantations and this demand would soon be fulfilled with the use of forced laborers and indentured servants. The colonists now faced the problem of a greater need for labor.
However, families procreated too slowly, the Native Americans died too quickly from disease, and slaves were too expensive. At the time, England had an abundance of displaced farmers in search of long term employment. These laborers, known as “indentured servants,” willingly rented out their work. They signed binding contracts to their masters, to work for a number of years to pay their passage. Approximately fifteen hundred indentured servants were coming from England, Scotland, and Ireland every year. These settlers also changed the colony of Virginia socially.
When they first arrived, the population of Virginia was basically zero, excluding the Native Americans. Within 71 years, there were approximately two thousand black slaves and six thousand Christian indentured servants. The population had also reached forty thousand people. The tobacco plant was the main reason for the successful changes in the Virginia colony. The profit from the plant was the reason for the economically, and the increased population of the workers was the reason socially. Without the tobacco plant, there would have been such a significant change in the new Virginia colony.

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