By Drew A. Swanson
Swanson, who brings to his narrative the adventure of getting grown up on a operating Virginia tobacco farm, explores how one try at agricultural permanence went heavily awry. He weaves jointly social, agricultural, and cultural heritage of the Piedmont quarter and illustrates how principles approximately race and panorama administration grew to become entangled less than slavery and in a while. tough long-held perceptions, this cutting edge research examines not just the cloth relationships that hooked up crop, land, and other people but additionally the excuses that inspired tobacco farming within the region.
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Extra info for A Golden Weed: Tobacco and Environment in the Piedmont South
50 Among his many enterprises, James C. Bruce ran nine country stores, several large ﬂour and lumber mills, a plaster plant (producing a popu lar soil amendment), a cotton manufactory, and a blacksmith shop. 51 Aside from alternative crops and livestock, one of the most common ways for dark tobacco planters along the border to diversify their income was to manufacture ﬁnished tobacco products on their plantation or in an adjoining town. Wealthy planters existed throughout the three counties, but that wealth was based on varied economic activities, ownership of the richest bottomlands in the region, and the intermarriage of wealthy families.
13 These emerging Piedmont tobacco outposts were part of a shift in tobacco production that swept the mid-Atlantic in the middle and late decades of the eighteenth century. As tobacco cultivation grew in the Piedmont, the importance of the crop’s culture lessened on the older lands of the Chesapeake. Beginning in the mid-eighteenth century, and accelerating after the Revolution, many Tidewater farmers, especially on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and Maryland and on Virginia’s Northern Neck, turned to wheat as an alternative cash crop to tobacco.
Lying along the numerous creeks 2 2 on t he b ack of t o b acco and rivers, the region’s bottomland is quite dark and fertile, rich in organic matter deposited by periodic ﬂooding. For this reason bottoms were typically the ﬁrst settlement and agricultural sites in the Southside, ﬁ rst worked by Native Americans who were followed by colonial farmers. The upland is much poorer for agricultural purposes. It is composed of sandy loam that modern soil scientists place in the Appling, Cecil, and Durham series.
A Golden Weed: Tobacco and Environment in the Piedmont South by Drew A. Swanson