What is the Plantation System?
In the past, the South’s agricultural economy mainly survived thanks to the plantation system. Plantations were large farms that typically produced one staple crop. These crops could be rice, tobacco, cotton, sugar, or some other crop that was valuable to foreign buyers, as the South had an international economy. These large amounts of crops required a huge amount of labor to cultivate. Instead of paying workers to work the fields and add more expenses for the land owners, they would instead buy slaves and conscript them into working the land. Because of the idea of slavery, plantation owners were able to essentially own the land, tools, and labor force, which eliminated most costs of running a farm. Because these costs were lowered, plantation owners were able to make vast amounts of profit, which is why the plantation system was the primary economic strategy for the South.