Skip to comments.African Slaves Brought First Rice Riches to U.S.?
Posted on 12/20/2007 7:49:21 PM PST by Lorianne
A rice variety that made many a colonial plantation owner rich was brought to the United States from West Africa, according to preliminary genetic research.
The finding suggests that African slaves are responsible for nearly every facet of one of the first rice varieties grown in the U.S., as well as one of the most lucrative crops in early American history.
"Not only did they bring the technology, the how-to, they brought the cultivar," said Anna McClung, a genetic researcher with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Stuttgart, Arkansas.
West Africans had been growing varieties of rice for several thousand years before the start of the slave trade with the colonies, McClung said.
Ship masters wanting to deliver healthy slaves to the U.S. bought rice in Africa as provisions for the voyage, according to experts. Once in the colonies, slaves grew leftover rice in their own garden plots for food.
In 1685 plantation owners in the Carolinas started experimenting with a rice variety that produced high yields and was easy to cook, McClung said.
The slaves used their rice-growing know-how to convert the swampy Carolina lowlands to thriving rice plantations replete with canals, dikes, and levies, which facilitated periodic flooding of the fields, McClung noted.
The so-called Carolina Gold variety quickly became a high value export crop, primarily to Europe.
"That was really fundamental for the economic growth of this country, and that hinged upon this one variety," McClung said. "So there's been this question of where did that one variety come from?"
(Excerpt) Read more at news.nationalgeographic.com ...
Interesting PC twist. The slaves didn’t bring it, the African slave traders sold it to the European slave traders along with the slaves.
Everyone knows America was built on rice!
(and on the back of Uncle Ben)
So does Uncle Ben have to start paying reparations?
Everyone knows America was built on rice!
(and on the back of Uncle Ben)
The San Francisco Treat?
It’s Pelosi’s Fault!
Dat beotch stole my tasty treat!
Things that make you go Hmmmmm?
One would think that any rations slaves managed to smuggled aboard the blackbirders’ ships would be consumed or stolen by the other slaves.
that made many a colonial plantation owner rich was brought to the United States . . .
The finding suggests that African slaves are responsible for nearly every facet of one of the first rice varieties grown in the U.S. . . .
for several thousand years before the start of the slave trade with the colonies . . .
Ship masters wanting to deliver healthy slaves to the U.S. bought rice in Africa as provisions for the voyage . . .
In 1685 plantation owners in the Carolinas . . .
That was really fundamental for the economic growth of this country . . .
Anybody else notice how the National Geographic author is seemingly confused about the difference between the colonies and the United States? This article conflates the two. I'll leave it up to the reader to decide for themselves whether that anachronism was intentionally slipped into the narrative multiple times in an effort to make a political statement, or whether it was simply done out of ignorance.
For reference, note that the only date quoted in the article excerpt is the year 1685, yet the United States was not founded until the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, which was more than ninety years later. So it would appear that many or most of the references to the "the U.S." or "the United States" are simply false.
Oh, and notice if you read all the way to the end of the article you find out that all of this is speculative, and that in fact it could be incorrect, and the actual source of the Carolina Gold could have been from somewhere other than West Africa and thus might have had no direct connection with the slave trade or with foodstuffs purchased by slave-trading ship captains in West Africa (although the role of slaves in cultivating rice in the Western Hemisphere is pretty well established).
The so-called Carolina Gold variety quickly became a high value export crop, primarily to Europe
Why did Europe not buy the rice directly from Africa? Shipping costs would be much less.
And yes, I too, have noticed the confusion regarding the United States and British Crown Colonies. This became apparent to me when the State of Massachusetts felt compelled to apologise for the Salem Witch Trials - crimes which occured in a British Crown Colony, NOT the United States.
I took a tour of a plantation this past fall when I was in SC for a visit and they told us of the history of rice and it’s connection to slavery.
Apparently, rice was a staple in Africa and a sign of status. The Africans who were captured and sold as slaves, hid the rice in their hair and grew it when they arrived. They approached the slave owners about growing their own food, which the slave owners certainly didn’t object to, and using their knowledge of rice cultivation, built some impressive rice paddies.
It makes for a compelling story, but I wonder whether there is actually documentary evidence to back it up, or whether it is an apocryphal tale...
that was very good..lol
that seems like Middle Passage myth
what would be more plausible and give blacks something to be proud of and whites something to feel good guilt about would be to say that the “slaves inherent knowledge of rice cultivation was a boon for the Americas and that we still benefit from that today”
but then someone would say.....that it wasn’t good because then we needed more slaves thus feeding the slave trade and worst now most rice is grown in Arkansas by slave descendent’s ...coincidentally the same state where Anti-Christ number one Bill Clinton came from and now is also home to Anti-Christ number two....Mike Huckabee
on second thought...maybe we should stick with your story..lol
If Libs have their way.
We went on a tour of the plantation and took a buggy ride past the old rice paddies. Very impressive feats of engineering as far as leveling the land and irrigation.
The story was that rice was so much a part of their culture and livelihood and that status of it was what motivated them to smuggle the rice.
It was apparently the beginning of the rice industry. Clearly, the slaves had the knowhow, and the rice had to come from somewhere. Maybe some SC FReepers know more.
The thing that gives it some plausibility, was that the slaves supposedly grew it to feed themselves and after that the slave owners realized what a market they had there. The original intent was not that the slaves grew it for the market, but that it was more of a serendipity kind of thing for the slave owners.
South Carolina public television is currently filming a documentary about this subject. It will air sometime next spring and will be titled “The Golden Age of Rice: The Story of Carolina Gold Rice.” Anna McClung who is quoted in this article will be interviewed for the film and will also narrate part of it.
Of course it's true. You've heard of 'lice', haven't you? Africans invented that too.
Once in the colonies, slaves grew leftover rice in their own garden plots for food.
This I am impressed with. I've tried for years. Go to the store, buy some Uncle Bens, pour it in the garden next to the corn, water, sun, blah, blah, and...nothing. Maybe I should go to West Africa and hire one of these guys.
Rice was a common crop in parts of Europe by medieval times. It’s cultivation did not originate in Africa but most likely in India. The ship from Madagascar in 1685 brought rice as a part of it’s cargo and the captain of the ship gave rice as payment for the repairs done to his ship. In all likelyhood other variations of rice were also brought by other settlers during the 200 year period of settlement that preceded this event.
Having said all this, I am equally disgusted by the mockery I continue to read, on many threads about the past treatment of African slaves brought to this country. This should never have been done. I condemn those in Africa who sold their own people (as well as enslaved them themselves) as well as those persons and business owners who had no objection to enslaving others to provide them with lifes of comparative ease and/or to increase their own profits.
Such people and business owners continue to exist in our own society today: it is now the illegal aliens who are treated as slaves, much as I find their presence here disgusting, as they are lawbreakers who receive benefits to which they are not entitled.
Having said that.....I came upon the following article (I don't know who the writer is, or his bent, and have not throughly read the entire piece), which I found interesting:
During its experimental stage, planters grew rice primarily in river swamps around Charles Town. In 1700, they exported 330 tons of rice from Charles Town to England and the West Indies. Edward Randolph, Collector of Customs for the Southern Department of North America, wrote a letter to the same board explaining, "They have now found out the true way of raising and husking Rice. There has been above 300 Tons shipped this year to England besides about 30 Tons more to the Islands." During the spring of 1700, the governor of Carolina wrote a letter to the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations explaining the problems that Carolina experienced due to the overproduction of rice. He wrote, we "hath made more rice ye Last Cropp then we have Ships to Transport." [NOTE: there is no mention that slaves caused or created such rice productions or technology by this point]
By the 1730s, the major influx of slaves into South Carolina was from the west coast of Africa. Planters preferred Africans from Angola, the Gambia River area, the Windward Coast and the Gold Coast, although some slaves, mostly prisoners of inter-tribal warfare, came from as far as 700 miles into the interior of the Africa. In the coastal regions, rice growing had been a dominant part of African culture since 1500 BC. Tribal members "recruited" and sold most of the slaves for trade with Europeans. The most common reasons for selling tribal members to the Europeans were for offenses against society, such as murder or theft, offenses against the king, or even personal or tribal misfortunes such as indebtedness or tribal famine. Slave brokers, along the coastal regions of Africa, often trained future slaves in rice fields similar to those in which they would work in the new world. The sale of human lives was profitable for African tribal kings and the European traders as well as the colonial planters.
By 1730, two-thirds of South Carolina's population was slaves...
It was a plantation on the coast near Charleston that we visited. They did say the rice was grown by the know how of the slaves. The only real difference between the accounts seems to be how the rice trade started.
What we were told is that the slaves grew it to feed themselves (with the permission of the slave holder) and later the slave holders discovered what a gold mine it was. Supposedly the slaves were brought over for other purposes than rice production.
Damn, and here I was thinking America was built on okra.
Aunt Jemimah’s done it again...
Interesting, metmom. I think I’ll be putting that on my list of things to investigate/research...very soon.
All you need to grow rice is a swamp and a whole lot of seeds;
From a search:
African and Asian types of rice are grown in two ways depending on the location and climate where it was planted. There are two types of growing rice in certain parts of the country.One of it is called lowland rice. This requires rice being grown in flooded plains called paddies so its roots could be able to make use of the nutrient content from the water it was planted in. Paddy rice farmers usually plant the seeds first in little seedbeds and transfer them into flooded fields which were already plowed. Other highly-developed countries plant the seeds using a drill in fields already levelled mechanically. Afterwards,it is flooded either by rainwater or by irrigation.
If only the Africans who never left home could do as well:
The plantation we visited is called Middleton Place. ( just happened to find the brochures from the tour we took)
Not *Gone With the Wind*, for sure....
no, lol....not at all! The “master’s” house was nothing elaborate, though, either.
probably one of the Ball’s......I have a book on them...and their many slaves
maybe the best slave history to be found
We’ve visited there and heard the same stories. The slaves brought the rice and knowledge. After there was no slave labor it was no longer possible to grow the rice profitably.
Oh great, one more thing to feel guilty about.
“You’ve heard of ‘lice’, haven’t you? Africans invented that too.”
FYI, blacks rarely if ever get head lice (pediculus capitas).
Rice. Lice. It was a joke.
Sorry, being in a lice territory that grows rice there are still a lot of folks that don’t know that.
So.....why didn't the west Africans sail to the colonies, enslave a bunch of crackers, and take them back to west Africa to work on their own rice plantations??
|GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach|
Note: this topic is from 12/20/2007.
Correct. This same line of reasoning is used to condemn the US for the Salem Witch Trials, which occurred in 1692, many years before the founding of the US. Differences between British Crown Colonies and the US of A are intentionally blurred...
There are a few things questionable about this, above and beyond the anachronism of placing the United States into 1685.
Rice that keeps well, that stores and does not spoil, is so-called white rice. The husk and outer bran layer has been removed. Ship stores would likely have been white rice as a result. It will not germinate.
I have no problem with the idea that rice or several other foods associated with the south have ultimately African origins, having been brought over by individuals desinted for slavery. Okra and yams are two others.
But, this is somehow convoluted. If it was brought it was brought to plant, concealed on their persons. The legendary route told to tourists on plantation tours sounds far more plausible, but plagiarizing a brochure isn’t the route to grant money I guess, speaking of routes.
That's what the article says but that's not what 'they' want it to mean.
What a strange and screwed up world we live in.
And how did the slaves know where they were going, and where did they get the foresight to know that rice would be useful once they got there?
Well, in the Low Country (God’s Own Country!), fortunes were built on rice, indigo, and cotton.
I don’t think shipping costs from Africa to Europe would have been lower than from the Carolinas to Europe.
Sailing directly back to Europe from Africa means sailing against the Gulf Stream. Sailing vessels from the Carolinas would follow the Gulf Stream up the East Coast and across the Atlantic.