Tobacco in Virginia

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In 1607 the Virginia company of London sent three ships into the Chesapeake Bay. They founded a settlement on the James river which they named Jamestown after the English King James. Some of the settlers were men who were wealthy and thought they could make a lot of money fast; these men were called cavaliers. The settlement almost failed because Virginia didn’t have any gold like they had hoped.

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They survived because they found out that they could make a profit off of tobacco. The Jamestown settlers started to grow tobacco so they could make a profit. The tobacco they were growing was too bitter for the Europeans they were selling it to. One of the Virginia settlers, John Rolfe took tobacco seeds from Trinidad and used that to sell to Europeans because the tobacco from the Caribbean wasn’t as bitter.  Unlike the Disney story, it is actually John Rolfe the tobacco investor and not Captain John Smith who married the native Pocohantas and took her to England.

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Tobacco started the colony’s trading as a cash crop.  They sent tobacco to England and the royal joint stock company gained profit rapidly. Tobacco was used to purchase indentured servants and slaves. They also used tobacco to pay taxes and to buy goods from England. They used indentured servants to work on the tobacco plantations.

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The first African slaves came to Jamestown on board a Dutch ship in 1619.

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The American Vision text-book page 27

The Americans text-book page 45

http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Tobacco_in_Colonial_Virginia