Block #3: Tobacco Leaf
Sponsored by: The Simmons Family
Located on the comfort station at the public boat landing, in the village of Choptank.
21843 Water St. Preston, MD 21655
Painted by The Women’s Club of Caroline County
June 1st, 2013
The first commercial crop grown in Virginia was tobacco. This native plant proved very popular. Tobacco quickly became the largest export from the American colonies. Between 1618 and 1640, the annual tobacco harvest in Virginia rose from 20,000 pounds to 1.5 million pounds. Tobacco was even used to help fund the American Revolution by serving as collateral for loans from France.
The importance of tobacco grew as the colonies grew, but there was one problem. The Colonists needed a large supply of cheap labor to grow tobacco. Eventually, they turned to the use of slavery to maximize profits and reduce costs. Slavery first became legal in Virginia and Maryland in 1660. By 1750, African American slaves accounted for 35% of the population in the Chesapeake region alone.