The great Tidewater planters of mid-eighteenth-century Virginia were fathers of the American Revolution. Perhaps first and foremost, they were also anxious tobacco farmers, harried by a demanding planting cycle, trans-Atlantic shipping risks, and their uneasy relations with English agents. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and their ...
The great Tidewater planters of mid-eighteenth-century Virginia were fathers of the American Revolution. Perhaps first and foremost, they were also anxious tobacco farmers, harried by a demanding planting cycle, trans-Atlantic shipping risks, and their uneasy relations with English agents. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and their contemporaries lived in a world that was dominated by questions of debt from across an ocean but also one that stressed personal autonomy. T. H. Breen's study of this tobacco culture focuses on how elite planters gave meaning to existence. He examines the value-laden relationships--found in both the fields and marketplaces--that led from tobacco to politics, from agrarian experience to political protest, and finally to a break with the political and economic system that they believed threatened both personal independence and honor.
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Tobacco Culture is another view of one of possible underlying causes of the American Revolution and the development of the American mentality. There were several causes of the American Revolution, some political, some economic, some social. This work combines the several genres within one segment of American culture. The great tobacco plantations of the South had been developed on a perceived understanding regarding debt. Planters would lend each other funds in gentlemanly agreements between friends. Southern planters viewed their English commercial relationships in the same manner. When they borrowed money from English trading houses to expand their plantations and/or buy English commodities with the promise to send their tobacco to the trading houses it was viewed as an agreement between friends, the brokers in England viewed the relationship otherwise. When these relationships became affected by the downward trend in tobacco prices the planters found their independence was being lost because of constant indebtedness. Misperceptions on both sides led to a falling out and contributed to the causes of the American Revolution.
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