Significant Plantations in the Antebellum South

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Map Code: Ax01948

The ways in which slave labour was organized were dictated by the requirements of the crop. In the Deep South cotton, which required few specialized skills, was typically cultivated via the gang system, where synchronized tasks were performed under close supervision. The crops of the east coast lowlands, coffee, pimento, indigo and especially rice, tended to favour task-oriented labour. The task system tended to grant the labourer more autonomy, in that their workday would generally finish when the allotted tasks were completed, but the cultivation of rice, for example, required intensive work throughout the year. Tobacco, which dominated around Chesapeake Bay, was both labour-intensive, and demanding of a significant amount of skill in its phases of cultivation. Repeated transplanting, cutting of the ripened plants and curing all demanded expertise and diligence. It was frequently produced on small farms where owner and slaves often worked communally.

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