Social Studies - 2018-19

VS.4a - Agriculture and Slavery

The student will demonstrate an understanding of life in the Virginia colony by

a) explaining the importance of agriculture and its influence on the institution of slavery.

Adopted: 2015


  • For most of human history, agriculture was the most important means of making a living.
  • Before modern technology most agricultural crops required a great deal of human labor.
  • Some crops are grown mainly for sale.


The success of tobacco as a cash crop transformed life in the Virginia colony and led to dependence on slave labor.


Term to know

  • Cash crop: A crop that is grown to sell for money rather than for use by the growers

The economy of the Virginia colony depended on agriculture as the primary source of wealth.

Tobacco became the most profitable agricultural product because it was sold in England as a cash crop.

The successful cultivation of tobacco depended on a steady and inexpensive source of labor. For this reason, African men, women, and children were brought to the Virginia colony and enslaved to work on the plantations. The Virginia colony became dependent on slave labor, and this dependence lasted a long time.


Updated: May 18, 2018