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Plantation complexes in the Southern United States

History of plantations in the American South / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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A plantation complex in the Southern United States is the built environment (or complex) that was common on agricultural plantations in the American South from the 17th into the 20th century. The complex included everything from the main residence down to the pens for livestock. Until the abolition of slavery, such plantations were generally self-sufficient settlements that relied on the forced labor of enslaved people.

Stratford Hall is a classic example of Southern plantation architecture, built on an H-plan and completed in 1738 near Lerty, Virginia.
The Seward Plantation is a historic Southern plantation-turned-ranch in Independence, Texas

Plantations are an important aspect of the history of the Southern United States, particularly the Antebellum era (pre-American Civil War). The mild temperate climate, plentiful rainfall, and fertile soils of the Southeastern United States allowed the flourishing of large plantations, where large numbers of enslaved Africans or African Americans were held captive and forced to produce crops to create wealth for a white elite.[1]

Today, as was also true in the past, there is a wide range of opinion as to what differentiated a plantation from a farm. Typically, the focus of a farm was subsistence agriculture. In contrast, the primary focus of a plantation was the production of cash crops, with enough staple food crops produced to feed the population of the estate and the livestock.[2] A common definition of what constituted a plantation is that it typically had 500 to 1,000 acres (2.0 to 4.0 km2) or more of land and produced one or two cash crops for sale.[3] Other scholars have attempted to define it by the number of enslaved persons.[4]