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Jamestown Study Guide

Virginia Colony Study Guide (VS 4)


Tobacco and

The success of tobacco as a cash crop
transformed life in the Virginia colony and encouraged slavery.  A cash
crop is a crop grown to sell for money rather than for use by growers.


The economy of the Virginia colony depended on
agriculture as a primary source of wealth.  Tobacco became the most
profitable agricultural profit.  It was sold in England as a cash crop.


The successful planting of tobacco depended on
a reliable and inexpensive source of labor.  Large numbers of Africans
were brought to the colony against their will to work as slaves on the
plantations.  The Virginia colony became dependent on slave labor, and
the dependence lasted a long time.

Cultural Influences

The culture of Virginia reflected First
American (American Indian), African, and European originsMigration
and living in new areas caused people to adapt their old customs to their
new environment.


Whenever people settle in an area, they change
the landscape to reflect the beliefs, customs, and architecture of their
.  Some examples of cultural landscapes include barns, homes, and
places of worship
(e.g. churches).


The names of the places reflected the culture
of those who lived there.  For example,


was settled by the English and is an English name.  However,

like many other places in Virginia was a First American name.


The English settled mostly in the
Coastal Plain (Tidewater) and



The Germans and Scotch-Irish
settled mostly in the
Valley.  This was along the migration route


were mostly brought to the Coastal Plain and


regions, where agriculture required a great deal of labor. 


Americans were primarily in the Coastal Plain and

regions and the Appalachian Plateau, where their traditional homelands
were located.


Moving the Capital

The capital of Virginia was moved twice.  In
, it was moved from
There were many reasons for this move.  First of all, the drinking water
was contaminated by salt water.  Then, there was the fact that the dirty living
conditions caused diseases.  Also, Williamsburg was at a higher
which meant it was less likely to flood.  When fire
destroyed the wooden buildings in1698 (for the umpteenth time) the final
decision was made.


In 1799 the capital of Virginia was
moved again, this time from Williamsburg to Richmond.  This made sense for
several reasons.  The population was moving westward, and Richmond was
west of Williamsburg.  In addition, Richmond was a more central location
for all the citizens of Virginia and nearby states.  This meant that is was a
better location for trade.  Finally, moving Richmond increased the distance
from attack by the English
.  Even though the colonists had won their
independence, attacks by the English still happened from time to time.



When you learn about the economy of early
Virginia, there are some terms you need to know.

A medium of exchange (currency, which includes coins and paper bills)

Trading/exchanging of goods and services without the use of money

Buying a good or service now and paying for it later

A good or service owed to another

Money put away to save or to spend at a later time


Few people in Colonial Virginia had paper
money and coins
to use to buy goods and services.  In addition, Colonial
Virginia had no banks at all
Instead, barter was commonly used instead of money.  Often, tobacco
was used as money. A tobacco farmer could use his tobacco to pay for goods and


Farmers and other consumers could also buy
goods and services on credit and pay their debts when their crops were
harvested and sold.  Today, people usually buy their homes and cars using credit
– buy now, pay later.


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