Tobacco, America’s Colonial Bloodline

Tobacco is one of the largest industries in modern day America. While accounting for 444,000 American deaths per year, you would think that Tobacco might have been the worst thing that has ever happened to The United States since the first slaves were brought over. In reality, this is not the case. How could we possibly thank Tobacco as a US citizen. We can thank Tobacco for building our country.

So where can we start. We can start in 1614, in the failing British Colonies in America such as Jamestown. Investors payed a lot of money to have these colonies created, but were getting 0 profit due to the constant diseases, lack of food, and Native American Attacks on these colonies. These investors needed a fast return on their cash or the entire British colonial effort would be lost. That was when “miracle drug” finally hit the market in the Chesapeake Bay colonies. In 1622, a stable Tobacco economy had finally been created in the US. This allowed for the creation of multiple other colonies that ran off of this large scale industry such as Virginia, New York, and Maryland. These middle colonies were essentially ran by the Tobacco industry, relying on its profits and work t support their large populations. By the end of the seventeenth century, tobacco exports from the colonies to England was over 20,000,000 pounds. Laws were created to maximize the profit from Tobacco and protect the cheap cost of making it. This staple crop in America was incredibly cheap to purchase by farmers, which allowed tobacco to be easily grown and produced out of the colonies. All these benefits from tobacco helped grow the industry in the colony which in turn created wealth through trade. Tobacco producing was rarely regulated till the Virginian Inspection Acts were passed in 1730. Because of this lack of regulation on tobacco production, the industry was really able to boom in the 17th century till the regulations took place. This large economic boom helped fund roads and government buildings, showing that tobacco literally built America.

Tobacco regulations actually helped make the industry grow even larger. This is because it was allowed to grow quite fast without regulations, but when the regulations were put in place in 1730, the tobacco was known for being very high quality. This skyrocketed the market even higher, allowing it to be the largest produced export from the US for a long time in the 17th and 18th century.

This plant that has caused so much harm to the US has also built this nation from the ground up. Our roots are so tied up with tobacco that its economical impact is the only reason it is still around today. So this brings up an interesting question, can we really hate this miracle plant???

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3 thoughts on “Tobacco, America’s Colonial Bloodline

  1. Considering that tobacco planting before the slave trade, we can say that tobacco was the first bad thing that happened to America. But as you said, it can also be accounted for the colonies’ economical success and the resulting wave of immigrants was immense. However, they really followed a simple pattern. Here’s how it goes: you find a way to make money, and you make money. Someone else sees that you succeeded, and they want money as well, so they follow your steps. It’s all about money. Had there only been religious separatists, there might have been a good amount of Americans. But the profitable tobacco and other staple crops are what really brought people in.

  2. The economic blessings of the tobacco boom in early America are often overlooked because of it’s reputation today. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was as respectable as farming corn (save the fact that you needed a ton of slaves to run a tobacco plantation). i think you really captured the tone of the industry at the time.

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