Types of U.S. Plantations

Basic Plantation Types
The Southern plantation landscape consists of three distinctive socioeconomic and spatial phases, and each is still visible on the landscape today:
1) antebellum plantations, before 1864 [antetbellum means in Latin "before the war."]
2) postbellum sharecropper plantations, 1864-1940s [postbellum means in Latin "after the war."]
3) neo-plantations, since the 1940s

Specific Examples of Plantations and Other Slave Places:
Boone Plantation, SC;   Middleton Place, SC;   Lazaretto Landing, GA

Antebellum Plantations
By 1830 planters had established antebellum plantations from the Carolina coast to lower Louisiana; by 1860 plantations could be found throughout the South.
Yet most whites in southern states never owned slaves and those who did usually owned fewer than 10. Large plantations with hundreds of slaves were very uncommon,
yet they disproportionately left their distinctive marks on the landscape and culture of the South.

What does this Currier & Ives painting tell us about  the life of slaves and planters on cotton plantations along the Mississippi River?

Plantations had very similar geographies, and several examples from across the South are cited here. The layout of Mount Vernon, George Washington's plantation in Virginia, is how plantations were laid out. In his will George Washington did free his slaves but only after his wife's death. Supporting too many ageing slaves on the farm was bad business. In contrast, Thomas Jefferson maintained that he could not afford to free his slaves because of his expensive life style, among them importing French wine.

The Hopeton plantation, in Georgia, is a representative example with an owner's house, service buildings, slave quarters, large acreage, and large fields. White planters, like Thomas Jefferson, often had sexual relations (voluntary or forced) with their female slaves.

Examine the complex of buildings on the Florewood plantation.

What are the commercial crops? Which are the food crops for the slaves and white owners?


By 1820, the USA was exporting 400,000 bales of cotton a year; by 1861, it was 4 million bales. By the start of the Civil War,
cotton had over taken sugar and tobacco as the foremost traded crop in the world. By 1861, the USA produced 66 percent
of all the raw cotton exported around the world and most of it went to Lancashire, United Kingdom, which produced 66 percent of all the cotton fabric that was traded world-wide!

Source: Merle Prunty, "The Renaissance of the Southern Plantation," Geographical Review, Vol. 65, No. 4 (October 1955), pp. 459-491.