Agriculture on the Border


Context

Studying agricultural practices allows us to understand how people provided the food and cash crops they needed to support themselves and their society. Both before and during the Civil War, the southern United States grew such cash crops as cotton, rice, sugar cane, tobacco and indigo, a plant used to make blue dye. Large plantations were part of the southern landscape, especially in the region known as the Deep South (Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Louisiana and Florida).

Kentucky grew different crops. For export outside of the commonwealth, Kentuckians raised hemp, working livestock, meat animals, wood, and tobacco. They grew corn and wheat for internal use.

Although the Kentucky landscape did not support as many large plantations as the landscape of Deep South states did, Kentucky agriculture was deeply tied to and invested in slavery. Individual slave-holdings were smaller on average than elsewhere in the South, but a larger percentage of Kentucky households participated in the institution than did in most other states in the region.

Download K-12 theme here. 
Download AP, Undergad, and Grad theme here.

Primary Sources

  1. J. M. MILLS, J. S. HAYES, AND J. H. GARRARD, REPORT
  2. T. J. MCGIBBEN TO J. G. FOSTER
  3. J. B. BOWMAN ET AL. TO THOMAS E. BRAMLETTE
  4. JOHN W. BROOKOVER TO UNKNOWN

Big Picture Questions

  • Why were some crops restricted during wartime?
  • Why is there an increase in one crop while there is a decrease in another?
  • How do these agricultural wartime decisions impact Kentucky long term?

Activities

  • CWGK Farmville: Select four agricultural crops, design your farm, plan your day and rationalize your choices.

Secondary Resources

  • Food, Farming, and the Domestic Economy in Kentucky
  • Ellen Eslinger. 2009. “Farming on the Kentucky Frontier.” The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 107 (1): 3–32.
  • Karl B. Raitz and Nancy O'Malley. 2012. Kentucky's Frontier Highway: Historical Landscapes along the Maysville Road. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky.

*CWGK would like to thank Dr. Andrew Patrick and his spring 2019 students at Centre College for their collaboration on the CWGK Farmville playing cards and board design.