BOOK: Edelson on the Plantation Worlds of South Carolina

S. Max Edelson, Plantation Enterprise in Colonial South Carolina. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006.

European settlers came to South Carolina in 1670 determined to possess an abundant wilderness. Over the course of a century, they settled highly adaptive rice and indigo plantations across a vast coastal plain. Forcing slaves to turn swampy wastelands into productive fields and to channel surging waters into elaborate irrigation systems, planters initiated a stunning economic transformation.

The result, Edelson reveals, was two interdependent plantation worlds. A rough rice frontier became a place of unremitting field labor. With the profits, planters made Charleston and its hinterland into a refined, diversified place to live. From urban townhouses and rural retreats, they ran multiple-plantation enterprises, looking to England for affirmation as agriculturists, gentlemen, and stakeholders in Britain’s American empire. Offering a new vision of the Old South that was far from static, Edelson reveals the plantations of early South Carolina to have been dynamic instruments behind an expansive process of colonization.

With a bold interdisciplinary approach, Plantation Enterprise reconstructs the environmental, economic, and cultural changes that made the Carolina Lowcountry one of the most prosperous and repressive regions in the Atlantic world.

AHR Exchange: “The Question of ‘Black Rice”

Harper's Monthly Magazine (1859), vol. 19, p. 726; accompanies article by T. Addison Richards, "The Rice Lands of the South" (pp. 721-38). (Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library), as shown on http://www.slaveryimages.org, sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library.

This month’s American Historical Review features a forum on Judith Carney’s much discussed work Black Rice:  The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas (Harvard University Press, 2001).  Scholars S. Max Edelson, Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, Walter Hawthorne, David Eltis, Philip Morgan and David Richardson weigh in.

AHR Exchange: The Question of “Black Rice”
Introduction
Beyond “Black Rice”: Reconstructing Material and Cultural Contexts for Early Plantation Agriculture

S. Max Edelson
Africa and Africans in the African Diaspora: The Uses of Relational Databases

Gwendolyn Midlo Hall

From “Black Rice” to “Brown”: Rethinking the History of Risiculture in the Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Walter Hawthorne

Black, Brown, or White? Color-Coding American Commercial Rice Cultivation with Slave Labor

David Eltis, Philip Morgan, and David Richardson
Available at University of Chicago Journals ($$)