American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia

By Edmund S. Morgan | Go to book overview

9
THE TROUBLE
WITH TOBACCO

WHEN and why Virginians began to live longer is almost as much a mystery as why they had died so rapidly. Concrete if indirect evidence of the rise in longevity comes from the rise in population after 1644. It had taken thirty-seven years to achieve the roughly 8,000 people present in that year. In the next nine years the number grew to more than 14,000; and in the nine years after that it reached a probable 25,600. 1 While it is not impossible that an increase in immigration contributed to the accelerated increase in population during these years, there is no clear evidence of it; nothing, for instance, like the letters of the I630s remarking on the large numbers of arrivals in Virginia. 2 The population, to be sure, continued to be composed primarily of immigrants. Although the New England colonies were able to grow without many new arrivals after 1640, Virginia and Maryland, like the sugar islands of the West Indies, would have expired without a steady flow of new workers. But the sharp increase in Virginia's population after 1644 probably came not from a corresponding rise in the num-

____________________
1
See Appendix.
2
W. F. Craven has attempted to estimate the volume of immigration during the seventeenth century from the number of headrights claimed annually in land patents. On this basis he finds the heaviest immigration in the quarter century after 1650. White, Red and Black. But because of the long and irregular lag between the arrival of an immigrant and the claiming of a headright for him, the annual volume of land patented bears no direct relation to the annual volume of immigration. See my "Headrights and Head Counts."

-180-

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American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • American Slavery American Freedom - The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Book I - The Promised Land *
  • 1 - Dreams of Liberation 3
  • 2 - The Lost Colony 25
  • 3 - Idle Indian and Lazy Englishman 44
  • 4 - The Jamestown Fiasco 71
  • 5 - The Persistent Vision 92
  • 6 - Boom 108
  • Book II - A New Deal *
  • 7 - Settling Down 133
  • 8 - Living with Death 158
  • 9 - The Trouble with Tobacco 180
  • 10 - A Golden Fleecing 196
  • Book III - The Volatile Society *
  • 11 - The Losers 215
  • 12 - Discontent 235
  • 13 - Rebellion 250
  • 14 - Status Quo 271
  • Book IV - Slavery and Freedom *
  • 15 - Toward Slavery 295
  • 16 - Toward Racism 316
  • 17 - Toward Populism 338
  • 18 - Toward the Republic 363
  • Footnote Abbreviations 389
  • Appendix - Population Growth in Seventeenth-Century Virginia 395
  • A Note on the Sources 433
  • Index 443
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