Plantations in the Upper South.

May 2017
81
United States of America
#1
So I have a question about the difference between the Upper South and the Deep South. I notice when the south is talked about when referring to the Antebellum period its usually the Deep South that is being talked about, the south of king cotton, neoclassical plantations, southern belles in hoop skirts etc. The thing is that to my knowledge cotton could only be grown in areas where there were long periods without frost and thus was confined to South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas and the like, states that were in the lower South. I know that in the Tidewater area they had tobacco plantations and that when you look at counties with an overwhelming majority of blacks in the south its in the tidewater areas of Virginia and North Carolina and well as the cotton belt IE the lower/coastal south. What i'm interested though is in the Upper South not including the Virginia and North Carolina coasts. I notice that there is comparatively fewer blacks in those states and encyclopedia Britannica calls it the "Yeoman South". So my question is, how many plantations were located in the upper south? Were they all just Yeoman farmers that had some blacks to help them grow... whatever it was they were growing on their farms or was it like the lower south filled with plantations and wannabe aristocrats? Did the upper south conform to the "Gone With the Wind" stereotype (yes I know that that movie was romanticized) with southern gentleman and bells, large neoclassical plantations, a plethora of slaves etc?
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,678
#2
There was not the cotton boom in the upper south. There had been a tobacco boom of sorts in colonial times. There was a large trade of slaves from VA, NC, and the border south of slaves to the deep south. This is where the term "sold down the river " comes from, indicating conditions were worse in the deep southern cotton and sugar plantations. In general slaves had more oportunity to grow their own gardens and were worked and whipped less in the upper south.

There were many plantations in the upper south. There were also farmers who owned slaves, but not plantations. There was a middle class, both in rural and urban areas. Not everyone was a planter or a redneck. In general, the more slaves on a farm, the better the land they farmed. There really is new division of the Yeoman south. Tidewater and valley areas in the upper south had more plantations. The areas with good farmland had more plantations throughout the south. Mountainous areas and other areas with poor farmland had few slaves and tended to be Unionist whatever part of the south they were in. In general, white indentured servants, once they finished their sentences on the plantation, obtained poor farmland and became yeoman farmers.
 
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MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,569
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
#3
In the movie Rio Grande (1950) Colonel Kirby Yorke is said to have burned his wife's plantation Bridesdale in the Shenandoah Valley during Sheridan's campaign in 1864. I have always considered the idea of a plantation in the Shenandoah Valley to be implausible. So now I ask if there were indeed any (tobacco?) plantations in the Shenandoah Valley or if it was all family farms?
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,678
#4
The Shenandoah Valley was an are with rich farmland, better than the piedmont to the east where Jefferson had his plantation, so there would be many plantations there. For example, President Madison's plantation Belle Grove was in the Shenandoah Valley. Wikipedia lists 58 plantations in what is now West Virginia. The tidewater area of Virginia had more plantations. Plantations in the upper south were not generally as big as some of the cotton plantations of the deep south.

Sheridan's men did a lot of burning in the Shenandoah Valley. They would definitely have hit any plantation house to loot and destroy, as well as most other houses. So the story is plausible.

List of plantations in Virginia - Wikipedia
List of plantations in West Virginia - Wikipedia
 
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May 2017
81
United States of America
#5
Did the plantation owners run the government in states like Kentucky and Tennessee as they did in states like South Carolina and Mississippi or were these upper south states more democratic that the deep south?
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,678
#6
Did the plantation owners run the government in states like Kentucky and Tennessee as they did in states like South Carolina and Mississippi or were these upper south states more democratic that the deep south?
In the areas with plantations, planters would often control the open ballot elections, sometimes with vote buying and intimidation. Andrew Johnson from mountainous east TN was elected senator, but in west TN it is likely planters controlled. Planters did not control the state governments in KY and TN to the extent as SC and MS. VA is in the upper south and without WV was highly undemocratic through the 1960s.
 
Oct 2015
691
Virginia
#7
There were plantations in the Shenandoah valley such as Belle Grove, Clermont and Long Branch (which you can still visit); but they tended to be smaller and have fewer slaves than the monoculture tidewater establishments. Rather than cotton, slaves or tobacco they exported grain and livestock up the valley to the Potomac and down-river to Alexandria and Baltimore. The original settlers had been Germans and Scotch-Irish migrating south from Pennsylvania rather than English from the piedmont or tidewater.
 
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betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,678
#8
There were plantations in the Shenandoah valley such as Belle Grove, Clermont and Long Branch (which you can still visit); but they tended to be smaller and have fewer slaves than the monoculture tidewater establishments. Rather than cotton, slaves or tobacco they exported grain and livestock up the valley to the Potomac and down-river to Alexandria and Baltimore. The original settlers had been Germans and Scotch-Irish migrating south from Pennsylvania rather than English from the piedmont or tidewater.
Yeh, there were plantations in the Shenandoah Valley and in WV and KY, but they weren't the stereotypical large cotton plantations of the deep south. Most of the population in these areas was white.

Religion was really important in colonial times. You pretty much had to be Anglican in VA and Congregationalist in New England. The Quaker rulers of PA let in protestant Germans and Scotch Irish who moved down the valley into VA and NC. Catholic Germans and Irish went to Spanish America in colonial times. I think there was also a substantial English population in the valley, and certainly most of the plantations would have been owned by those of English surnames.
 
May 2017
30
florida
#9
A lot will depend on your definition of " plantation ". Here in North Florida we still have large farms that are called " plantations " raising cattle , trees and selling hunting rights . Maybe not your classic plantation , but it is only a name , no clear definition.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,678
#10
A lot will depend on your definition of " plantation ". Here in North Florida we still have large farms that are called " plantations " raising cattle , trees and selling hunting rights . Maybe not your classic plantation , but it is only a name , no clear definition.
In 1860, there were 2358 owners of 100 or more slaves. I would assume 100 slaves was a plantation. I am looking for statistics on large slave owners in the Shenandoah Valley and border states. I found that there were 63 slaves at Lee's wife's Arlington House.
 
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