chapter  3
26 Pages

Trade and Authority

This chapter explores how discussion of these three elements of colonial wealth urban building, agricultural landholding and slave owning developed in the literature, providing an impression of historical change. Promotional writers and travellers wanted to provide catalogues of the built environment they encountered just as they recorded the natural environment. Settlers knew that their wealth came from the plantation system and they tried to combat accusations of laziness caused by the slave system by being innovative and adventurous in their agricultural techniques. The spectre of crop failure, hunger and colonial disintegration had not been completely eradicated. Robert Beverley criticised his fellow Virginians for being poor husbandmen. Representations of the landscape and the necessity of slavery entered the literature early in the history of Carolina and Georgia. In the literature, the fear of slave insurrection was subdued until 1739 when the slave rebellion near the Stono River erupted. However, most slaves did work on agricultural plantations than in a proto-industrial context.