Important Dates for Plantation Owners: Before the Civil War

From; An illustration of the Cotton Gin.

1793 – Whitney’s cotton gin made cultivation easier and faster; Thus increasing profit for plantation owners.

1808- Congress outlaws slave trade, but owners countered this by smuggling Africans into the South.

1831- Nat Turner slave rebellion; publication of The Liberator, which had many Northerners see plantation owners and slavery itself in a bad light.

1831-1832- Virginia legislature debating on slavery and emancipation.

1850- Close to the Civil War; the Compromise of 1850 which yielded several concessions to the South, including the Fugitive Slave Law. Plantation owners were happy that slavery was not fully abolished.

From; An illustration of Nat Turner

George S.


Civil War and Its Effects


As Civil War neared, both sides were conflicted. The North wanted to prevent further secession from the South, but depended on the South’s agriculture for economic and manufacturing reason. The South stood by secession, believing it to be right; Plantation owners wanted to keep slaves and their plantation economy, being satisfied with it, but depended on the North for trade.

Plantation owners feared that their way of life was being threatened and might also change for the worse, but many didn’t support war, fearing it would put their lives and economy at risk.

George S.



Plantations owners in the South were no doubt happy about their economic success. They were the main suppliers of cotton, and actually accounted for over half of the cotton in the world before the Civil War. The North depended on the plantation owners’ cotton for their textile industry. In fact, one of the main buyers of their cotton was Europe, specifically Britain, which meant even more money. Not only that, their slave industry was worth $2 billion, especially with the slave trade. The South sort of had a monopoly over the production of cotton, and directly affected the North’s manufacturing industry.

The bad part for them was that cotton became the South’s economy. It now had a one-crop economy in which the South solely relied on.


George S.

Plantation Owners and Controversy

From; A family of slaves circa 1860

Large plantation owners consist of only a handful of the Southern population. A handful of them own 100 or more slaves. They weren’t wholly antagonized in the South, but many lower class Whites resented them and their lifestyle. Many people, especially people in the North, criticized them for not actually working on the farms, their reliance on a one-crop economy, and their inhumane treatment of slaves.

George S.

An Owner’s Opinions


Plantation owners cared about their crops for the most part. They didn’t really care about the welfare of their slaves, instead it was if they’re working hard enough that mattered. They weren’t interested in going to war with the North, UNLESS their slave system and aristocracy were threatened.

George S.

Southern Aristocracy

Since cotton was very valuable and plentiful before the Civil War, many plantation owners became rich to the point of "Southern aristocracy". They enjoyed the obvious financial gain, and the social influence they had. Examples of their aristocracy are their extravagant housing, which reflected their influence and wealth.

Other examples would include capitalistic ventures and the occasional jousting tournament.


George S.

This Is a Plantation Owner’s Life

In the 1850s, before the Civil War, many plantation owners were rich farmers who didn't lift a finger to tend their crops. They oversaw their slaves toiling in fields like this.

This happened a lot because back then, Cotton was called the “King of the South”, dominating the Southern economy and affecting sales in Europe.

George S.