A QUESTION OF CLASS: EDUCATION IN THE SOUTHERN COLONIES
In the southern colonies, children generally began their education at home. Because the distances between farms and plantations made community schools impossible, plantation owners often hired tutors to teach boys math, classical languages, science, geography, history, etiquette, and plantation management. Most then completed their education in England. A governess usually taught the girls enough reading, writing, and arithmetic to run a household and the social skills to attract a husband.
Class differences were most pronounced in the South, where only upper-class men were widely educated. The Gazette reports that, in Virginia, literacy among the male gentry was almost 100 percent, and only 40 percent of laborers, 25 percent of upper class women, and 1 percent of slaves could sign their names.
The Southern Colonies
The new Southern Colonies were Maryland, the Carolinas, and Georgia. The Appalachian Mountains bordered parts of these colonies in the west. In the east, the colonies bordered the Atlantic Ocean. The soil and climate of this region were suitable for warm-weather crops such as tobacco, rice, and indigo.
Maryland and the Carolinas
Lord Baltimore established Maryland in 1632 for Roman Catholics fleeing persecution in England. To attract other settlers besides Catholics, Lord Baltimore promised religious freedom. In 1649, Maryland passed the Toleration Act.
Maryland based its economy on tobacco, which required backbreaking work. Every three or four years, the tobacco crop used up the soil, and workers had to clear new land. Most laborers came as either servants or slaves. Maryland attracted few women as settlers.
In 1663, Carolina was founded as a colony. English settlers from Barbados built Charles Town, later called Charleston, in 1670. They busied themselves cutting timber, raising cattle, and trading with the Native Americans. After 1685, Charleston became a refuge...