Tobacco and Its Influence on the American Term Paper

Download this Term Paper in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Term Paper:

Tobacco and Its Influence on the American Economy

Tobacco trade has been an integral part of the American economy for centuries. From its early use by the Native American Indians to its adoption by the European settlers in the New World in the early 17th century, tobacco has played a significant role in early and modern America in both an economic and political sense. "By the advent of the Civil War, the Indian custom had been transformed into a significant American industry. " (The Story behind the Homestead and Museum)

The powerful modern American economy can be traced back to the early European settlers and their search for economic security and gain. The initial New World economy gradually developed into a successful farming economy and eventually into the complex industrial economy of today. (The U.S. Economy: A Brief History) In this process tobacco played an impart part in the founding of the present economy.

The very early history of the significance of tobacco for the American economy began in pre-Columbian times where it was used extensively by the indigenous inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere. Tobacco was introduced to Spain and Portugal in the sixteenth century, from where its popularity and usage spread throughout Europe and then to Africa and Asia. England received tobacco from its colonies in America as early as 1612. Settlers to the New World, such as John Rolfe were instrumental in cultivating the crop in Virginia. Tobacco became Virginia's leading economic export by 1619. The cultivation and export of tobacco was an extremely important part of the early American economy. It was even used as a form of currency in some states. "Tobacco continued to develop into an affluent crop and eventually was used as the basis of currency in some of the states." (International Tobacco Issue)

Tobacco has from the earliest times formed a vital part of the economy; its production is interlinked and interwoven with the growth of the U.S. economy in general. The use and economic viability of this product originates from the time that Columbus set foot in the New World. Tobacco became America's first economic export when Columbus shipped the product to Europe for consumption and sale. In effect tobacco has been a lucrative revenue source of the United States for more than 400 years. (Tobacco...Working for America)

The importance of tobacco for the early economic independence of the United States can be seen in the inclusion of the 'golden leaf' as a design element in buildings in Washington, D.C. Tobacco has generated thousands of jobs for the economy. "A study conducted by the American Economic Group for the Tobacco Institute indicates the tobacco industry's impact on the U.S. economy in 1994 was $54.3 billion in wages and other compensation." (ibid)

2. The Early Colonists

In their attempt to establish a young successful economy the early colonists discovered the value of tobacco cultivation and export. Other economic activities such as mining, glass making and ship building had not proved to be sufficiently lucrative enough avenues. One of the earliest tobacco planters James Rolfe began exporting tobacco. "By 1703, the colonies had exported 23 million pounds of tobacco to Europe -- a remarkable achievement considering the cargo limitations in ships of that era." (ibid)

An important historical aspect which motivated the early settlers to seek new and lucrative forms of income was the English policy of the economic control of colonialization through charter companies. Once the charter companies were not earning enough they sold the rights to the settlers. This means that the settlers were in effect left to their own devises and they were consequently motivated to find new lucrative sources of income -- such as tobacco planting and export.

England's success at colonizing what would become the United States was due in large part to its use of charter companies. Charter companies were groups of stockholders (usually merchants and wealthy landowners) who sought personal economic gain ... while the private sector financed the companies, the King provided each project with a charter or grant conferring economic rights as well as political and judicial authority. The colonies generally did not show quick profits, however, and the English investors often turned over their colonial charters to the settlers ... The colonists were left to build their own lives, their own communities, and their own economy -- in effect, to start constructing the rudiments of a new nation. (The U.S. Economy: A Brief History)

The revenue received from tobacco exports "laid the foundation for our infant nation's economic existence." (ibid) The tobacco leaf became so valuable and sought after that in some states it was used as legal tender and to pay wages and taxes. Tobacco warehouses became some of the first industry buildings, and early warehouse receipts (for a 'hogshead' of tobacco) could be considered the first American currency. Fines, taxes and debts were settled in terms of tobacco. The considerable taxation on crops like tobacco was a catalyst for a little skirmish called the Revolutionary War. (Where We Come From)

Tobacco was also instrumental in helping the colonists during the American Revolution when it was used to pay the interest on loans outstanding to France and for the purchase of war materials. (ibid) The importance of tobacco during this time is emphasized by the words of George Washington:

George Washington, as Commander of the Revolutionary Army, issued a public appeal to supply his troops. Said the future President, "If you can't send money, send tobacco." Washington was himself a tobacco farmer, as was his colleague Thomas Jefferson, the nation's third President. (ibid)

The initial impetus towards the export of tobacco was fueled by the realization among the colonist that if they could be the sole supplier of the product to England, then this would provide a reliable economic basis for future development. The economies many areas soon came to be dependent on the export of tobacco as a prime source of income.

What early colonial prosperity there was resulted from trapping and trading in furs. In addition, fishing was a primary source of wealth in Massachusetts. But throughout the colonies, people lived primarily on small farms and were self-sufficient. In the few small cities and among the larger plantations of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, some necessities and virtually all luxuries were imported in return for tobacco, rice, and indigo (blue dye) exports.

(The U.S. Economy: A Brief History)

One of the areas in which tobacco production flourished was Virginia. The early colonists in this area soon discovered that they needed a more lucrative source of income in order to sustain the colony.

... The colonists quickly discovered that Virginia lacked the equivalent mineral resources of the Inca and Aztec civilizations - this particular colony based at Jamestown could not survive on stealing gold and silver from the natives further inland. Virginia became an agricultural colony, and a viable economic operation, only after John Rolfe developed a strain of tobacco that provided a smoother, gentler smoke in the pipes of his day. (The Fundamental Role of Tobacco in Shaping Virginia Society)

Tobacco flourished in Virginia and soon it was being sold in the colonies as it was in England. However, the Virginian planters were restricted by the laws imposed by England which diverted most of the profits to that country, leaving the colonists with relatively meager earnings.

The mercantile concept steered profits to England, and reduced the money paid to the colonists in Virginia for the raw material (tobacco). Colonial trade from Virginia was constrained so England could grow in power compared to rivals like France or Spain - but the colonial producers got the 'short end of the stick' in the process. (ibid)

These restrictions resulted in many of the tobacco producers and planters such as John Rolfe turning to smuggling to avoid the British taxation. Another effect of these restrictions was that the tobacco planters became more focused on quantity rather than quality; they could not control the sale of the produce but could control the amount that was produced.

Tobacco growing also required a large labor force and this led to the need to import labor in order to achieve high production rates. Economically this meant that the survival of the tobacco industry was dependent on slave labor. "If the colony's economy had not been dependent upon export of a product that required a large labor force to produce, the economic rationale for slavery would have been much less." (ibid)

The tobacco production in Virginia continued to increase and the amount of tobacco exported to Great Britain "rose from twenty thousand pounds in 1617 to over 40 million pounds in 1727, and even as the agricultural economy became diversified after 1700, colonists continued to produce ever larger crops of tobacco," and "by 1775, not only England but much of Europe depended on the Chesapeake for tobacco." ("Tobacco")

While the American and French revolutions resulted in a temporary decline in demand for tobacco on Europe, there was an increasing…[continue]

Some Sources Used in Document:


Cite This Term Paper:

"Tobacco And Its Influence On The American" (2004, December 11) Retrieved October 25, 2016, from

"Tobacco And Its Influence On The American" 11 December 2004. Web.25 October. 2016. <>

"Tobacco And Its Influence On The American", 11 December 2004, Accessed.25 October. 2016,

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • European Influence on Native American

    Substances such as sugar and honey were not used in the aboriginal diets, and the use of abusive substances such as alcohol or other min-altering psychoactive agents with the exception of tobacco and the 'black drink' were not common or problematic (French, 2000). Prior to the introduction of alcohol the natives were seen as fit, athletic and lean people, whereas the people of today are often seen as obese and

  • Tobacco Use Management System Analyzing

    For example, one approach to regulation would be to outlaw tobacco use entirely, but this action would have serious consequences that the government may not be able to accept. Thus the government must walk a precarious line within its role in the system, cautious of setting precedents that could be harmful in other areas of governing, yet still acting in the interest of the public. The authors identified five systemic

  • American Revolution in the Mid

    The British Parliament came out with further unjust laws, designed to recoup war losses, that further fanned the flames of revolution. In 1765, parliament passed the Stamp Act, requiring all legal documents and permits, newspapers, and even playing card produced in the Americas carry a tax stamp. The law caused widespread resentment, and was never fully enforced. Economic growth The period of 1690 to 1760 saw massive changes in the social, political

  • American Revolution Had Far Ranging

    Although the original U.S. Constitution did not initially grant women the right to vote and otherwise participate in the government, women were afforded, on a limited basis, to participate in the increased emphasis on public education following the end of the Revolution. The theory behind allowing this greater participation by women in the educational process was that in order for the republic to succeed, women must be able to

  • American History the Book American Past and

    American History The book, American Past and Present, which recounts U.S. history up to 1877, begins with nine pages (xxv-xxxiii) of very succinct summary material, taking 50 years at a time and offering, at a glance, American history from post Ice Age to 1995. This is good information to digest prior to reading through the book itself, as it offers a glimpse and taste of what is to come, and important

  • Tobacco Cessation Evaluation and Pre Assessment

    I would continue offering information including access to Web sites, books, and multimedia sources. If possible, I will spend extra time with the patient to help them reinforce their decision and offer psychological support. Other ways to address resistance to change include asking the patient's family members and close friends to participate in their treatment plan. If the patient has children, the children can volunteer information about how they feel

  • Tobacco vs Other Drugs Nowadays

    Alcohol, even at low doses, significantly impairs the judgment and coordination required to drive a car safely. Low to moderate doses of alcohol can also increase the incidence of a variety of aggressive acts, including domestic violence and child abuse. Hangovers are another possible effect after large amounts of alcohol are consumed; a hangover consists of headache, nausea, thirst, dizziness, and fatigue." On the other hand, "prolonged, heavy use of

Read Full Term Paper
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved