Southern Colonies

Map of Southern Colonies


The southern colonies were an ideal place for agriculture. The tidewater left minerals on the tideland, which made the soil fertile. The southern colonies were farther south, which meant the growing season was longer. The climate was warm and moist which was perfect for growing cash crops. Broad rivers located there was an excellent source of transportation. The tidelands went inland for about 100 miles and ended at the fall line. Land back of the fall line was known as the backcountry. Colonists who lived in the backcountry weren’t as fortunate as the people who lived in the tideland because the soil wasn’t as fertile. Instead they hunted in the thick forests located in the backcountry.


Virginia was the first successful English colony. It began at Jamestown in 1607.The colony created the first elected legislature in 1619, which was called the House of Burgesses. Only white men who owned property were allowed to vote or be elected. In 1632, the Anglican Church became the official church of Virginia because nearly all of the members of the House of Burgesses were Anglican. All of the people that were not Anglican had to leave the colony.        

The creation of Maryland started in 1632 when King Charles I gave land to Cecilius Calvert, also known as Lord Baltimore. Lord Baltimore wanted Maryland to be a safe refuge for Catholics. In 1649, The Toleration Act was passed. This was the first law in America that said that all Christians were free to worship in their own ways.

RiceNorth and South Carolina
Later, King Charles II started Carolina in 1663. He did this to keep the French and Spanish away. In 1729 though, Carolina split into North Carolina and South. The Northern part had very few harbors, no rich soil, and spoiled land. However, the southern part had excellent farmland, rich soil, and plenty of harbors. It grew much faster than the northern part. Because of its differences, Carolina became two separate colonies, North Carolina and South Carolina.
In 1732, the colony of Georgia was started when King George II gave land to James Oglethorpe. Georgia was named after King George II. Oglethorpe wanted Georgia to be a to be a place where debtors and poor people could start new lives. The colonists would not elect a legislature. At first, slavery wasn’t allowed. However, when people voted, the majority said that they wanted slavery to become legal.

Life in the Southern Colonies

The Southern Colonies had warm and damp climate, which meant growing plants was easy. Virginia and Maryland’s major cash crop was tobacco. North Carolina’s main cash crop was pine forests. South Carolina and Georgia’s main cash crops were rice and indigo. Rice grew in the hot, wet tidewater region. Indigo was a plant that can be turned into a blue dye. Georgia also grew cotton, which was useful for weaving.

In a plantation, the wealthy planters’ children were educated at home by teachers that their parents hired. The children had easy lives. They learned reading, writing, dancing, and music. Boys learned to ride horses and hunt, spending lots of time Cottonoutdoors. Older boys were ready to learn how to run the plantation. Girls were taught to sew and sing, and when they got older, they were taught to run a household full of servants. In the backcountry, life was different. Children could only learn to read and write if their parents taught them. At an early age, they were taught to run the house and farm. While doing this, they developed skills like hunting, plowing, sewing, and cooking.

Enslaved Africans were treated with cruelty. Their families were not together and husbands and wives were separated. Slaves were like laborers in the farm or as house servants. Young children had to work too. Whether the climate was hot, cold, or rainy, the Africans were forced to work almost 24 hours a day. Overseers whipped them and punished them if they didn’t like what they were doing. Because of this harsh cruelty, many slaves died early. The remaining slaves kept their culture together to survive. They sang spirituals, songs reminding them of their traditions. Many slaves became Christian, though. Soon, Africans created a culture that also had American customs in them. This was so the Africans now could sing of the past. The slaves invented the banjo, a musical instrument. In South Carolina, Gullah was a language created by the Africans. It had African languages and English.

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