Colonists of the Chesapeake grudgingly accepted callous rulers for a chance at independence. Because tobacco plantations were so spread apart along the rivers the Chesapeake only had two towns: Jamestown and St. Mary’s City. Colonists relied on counties for local government. In theory, the colonists lived with four tiers of political hierarchy: King and Parliament Governor, council, and assembly meeting County court and parish vestry Family household known as little commonwealth Men greatly outnumbered women which deprived the Chesapeake colonies of little commonwealth.
English servants composed three-quarters of the emigrants to the Chesapeake in the 17th century. Chesapeake emigrants were a subset of many poor people moving around England in search of food and work. Many emigrants died due to the different climate and intense labor of tobacco cultivation. Masters bought and sold contracts of servants and some were used to pay gambling debts. The courts almost always sided with masters when there were accusations of denying food or brutal punishments to the slaves by their masters. The colonists in the Chesapeake sacrificed comfort and life expectancy for an improved diet and a pride and autonomy of owning land.
Tobacco prices plummeted in the 1660s and 1670s which led the wealthy planters to ride out the hard times and buy land while the lower class became more impoverished. New regulations prohibiting the Dutch from the tobacco trade hurt colonial planter by reducing shipments and saturating the English market with tobacco. Meanwhile, Governor William Berkeley and his cronies monopolized the public offices and abused power. Settlers moved further into the frontier to obtain land where they came into conflict with the native Indians. Berkeley denied the settlers requests to exterminate the natives when Nathaniel Bacon ignored the governor’s advice and launched attacks on the Indians. In 1676, after being charged with treason, Bacon rallied planters and servants and forced the governor and his supporters out of Jamestown. After investigating the planters uprising, the English crown sent an army to denounce Berkeley and restore order.
The leading Virginians dramatically lowered taxes at the end of the 17th century which led to improved morale among planters. With a decline of indentured servants emigrating Chesapeake planters turned to African slaves who were a better investment. Early in the 17th century some blacks were freed and bought land and even married white women. Later in the century Chesapeake officials enacted new laws restricting blacks. Masters became convinced only pain and fear could motivate their African slaves. Free blacks lost rights to bear arms, hold office, vote, and employ white servants. Common and great planters shared in the psychology of race that held every white man superior to every black.
In 1670 West Indian planters established a new colony called Carolina to honor King Charles II. Carolina officially belonged to eight English aristocrats known as the Lords Proprietor. Charles Town was founded at the mouth of the Ashley River in 1670. The Lords Proprietor offered incentives to English settlers of late 17th century, most notably – religious toleration. Carolina primarily attracted farmers and artisans of modest means. Male servants were able to acquire land once they were freed, a prospect that was denied to them in England, the Chesapeake, and Barbados.
Former West Indians known as the Goose Creek Men dominated the assembly and council of Carolina. In 1702 the Goose Creek Men barred non-Anglicans from political office and establish the Church of England as the colony’s official, tax-supported church. The Carolina elite, displeased with the Lords Proprietor, convinced the crown to buy out seven of the eight lords. The transfer consolidated the political power of the planter elite. Native Indians relied on the gun trade and even raided other Indians for captives to sell as slaves. Carolina traders sought deerskins in exchange for their cloth, knives, rum, and guns. Indians depended on trade and killed double the amount of deer following the advent of trade.
The colonists favored the more powerful Indian tribes which put the weaker ones in jeopardy of raids. The Carolinians justified the enslavement of Indians as beneficial by sparing them execution and exposing them to Christian civilization. In the early 18th century an army of Carolinians and allied Indians raided and destroyed most of the villages and missions of the of the Apalachee and Timucua Indians. The Yamasee came to regret their alliance with Carolina and rebelled with help from Catawba and Lower Creek Indians. The rebels ran low on guns and gun- powder and eventually had to make peace with Carolina. The Carolina Indians dwindled from a combination of disease, rum consumption, and slave raiding.
With the help of slave labor, the cultivation of rice thrived and became the empire’s great rice colony. Suffering from a fear that the African slaves would rise in rebellion, planters resorted to harsh punishments and intimidation. After a rebellion in 1739, the planters thought of themselves as the innocent victims of vicious blacks. In the late 1720s Carolina officials and British imperialists founded the colony of Georgia. Georgia was the first and only British colony to reject the slave system. Until they could own slaves, the white Georgians considered themselves unfree. In 1751 the trustees reversed their decision and permitted slavery.