By Drew A. Swanson
Swanson, who brings to his narrative the event of getting grown up on a operating Virginia tobacco farm, explores how one try at agricultural permanence went heavily awry. He weaves jointly social, agricultural, and cultural heritage of the Piedmont sector and illustrates how rules approximately race and panorama administration grew to become entangled below slavery and in a while. hard long-held perceptions, this leading edge research examines not just the cloth relationships that hooked up crop, land, and other people but in addition the excuses that inspired tobacco farming within the region.
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Additional resources for A Golden Weed: Tobacco and Environment in the Piedmont South
Whereas un-topped tobacco grew tall and spindly, topped tobacco ﬁ lled out short and squat. Each farmer had his own formula, but topped and primed tobacco plants generally retained eight to twelve leaves, depending on soil and weather conditions. Like many other tobacco tasks, farmers considered topping highly skilled work. 63 Topping added quality to the crop, but it also created a problem. Breaking out the ﬂowering structure encouraged tobacco to form axial branches, called suckers, where the leaves meet the stalk, in the plant’s attempt to create a new ﬂower.
Estate inventories of farmers who owned slaves also typically included tobacco notes, interest in tobacco crops, or quantities of cured leaf. 33 The tobacco produced by Chiles, Smith, and their fellow Piedmont planters largely ﬂowed overseas. From its commercial origins at Jamestown, colonial American tobacco was a crop destined for European markets. By the mid-eighteenth century, Europeans of all classes, ages, and both genders smoked pipes, chewed tobacco, dipped snuﬀ, or lit cigars, and a number of cultures even celebrated tobacco consumption as a healthy or prophylactic habit.
16 Tobacco remained a crop with widespread appeal in the eastern portion of the colony, but the gradual decline in Tidewater leaf production after the Revolution accelerated Piedmont tobacco cultivation, where fresh land promised larger crops and good proﬁts (at least initially). Tobacco’s shift from the Tidewater to the Piedmont was a lengthy transition, but the latter region was the center of American tobacco production by the early decades of the nineteenth century. Piedmont tobacco growers were thus subject to the forces of national and transatlantic trade and to changes in distant landscapes, but they also had to deal with the material realities of raising tobacco in a new environment.