Why was it "Strange" That They Required People to Plant Corn?

Essay by yousucktimes7 October 2006

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Every man to set 2 acres corn (Except Tradesmen following their trades) penalty forfeiture of corn and tobacco and be a slave to the colony. No man to take hay to sweat tobacco because it robs the poor beasts of their fodder and sweating tobacco does it little good as found by experience.

This is the law that was instated in Jamestown in 1618 by Governor Argall. This law was in affect several times up until the 1650's. It requires each man to plant 2 acres of corn. When I first look at this law it seems strange to me. In the 21st century we go to the supermarket and we buy our food, which is made in abundance for us. But for the people of Jamestown they did not have this option. Their mother country was 3,000 miles away. At this time in history the world was still a very big place.

It took weeks to months to cross the Atlantic. This means that it took a very long time for supplies to reach Jamestown. Jamestown, therefore, must have been self-sufficient to survive. But the problem was that Jamestown was not self-sufficient and the people of Jamestown were starving. What was the cause of this? Corn was grown in the area by the natives and they thrived. So why didn't the colonist?

The Indians only spent a few days cultivating corn and they produced surpluses, which they traded with the colonist. Corn was grown easily and it was known to sustain a large population of natives. So why weren't the colonist successful in growing corn was one of the questions I asked myself. But as it turns out the colonist weren't growing corn. They had spent the warm summer months, and their few resources growing tobacco. You...