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The Thirteen Colonies ( Indian village of Secotan (North Carolina). [Engraving by Theodore de Bry, 1590]. The Shift toward Market Agriculture, c. 1750-1850. Incompatibilities of Colonial and Native Subsistence Agriculture. 1. domestic animals (“livestock wars”)

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indian village of secotan north carolina
Indian village of Secotan (North Carolina)

[Engraving by Theodore de Bry, 1590]

incompatibilities of colonial and native subsistence agriculture
Incompatibilities of Colonial and Native Subsistence Agriculture

1. domestic animals (“livestock wars”)

2. landscape changes (esp. deforestation)

3. increased competition for land, resources

4. different understandings of “property” and “ownership” (Indian norm is “usufruct” rights—e.g., Dedham grant deed)


Flood gate for controlling water flow on a rice plantation

(source: Harper’s Weekly, January 7, 1867)

Remnants of Tidal Rice Control Structures, Cooper River, South Carolina

(source: South Carolina State Archives)


Complaints of a Georgia Colonist, 1735:Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe's Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), Vol. I, pp. 83-84.

"My five-acre lot is of no service to me, being one entire swamp, nor am I capable of improving it for want of servants. My 45-acre lot is far distant from town, and having no assistance can make little or no improvement thereon, which is cause of great trouble to me, having been from my youth a planter.

" 'Tis impossible for a town to subsist without a country[side]. So [I] would willing (as my genius lies chiefly in tillage) sell my house in town, had I three or four servants, and apply myself thereto . . . .

" 'Tis impossible for me to maintain my family without servants . . . ."


I. New World landscapes are hybrid in 2 senses:

(1) mixed ecologies (plants, animals and diseases come from North America, Europe, Africa)

(2) cross-cultural practices (e.g., burning fields in New Eng., tidal rice in Low Country)

  • Agricultural outcomes are the result of:

(1) human knowledge & experience (often cross-cultural);

(2) human desires (often competing);

(3) environmental factors