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C O L O N I A L E C O N O M Y : A G R I C U L T U R E , T R A D E , A N D C O M M U N I C A T I O N AND ANDSLAVES, ashas been indicated, were the chief forms of wealth in colonial and antebellum North Carolina. Towns grew slowly, and—as in all new and undeveloped countries—nearly everyone depended on agriculture in one way or another. In spite of the fact that for a long time land was plentiful and readily available, everything havingto do with it wasof great interest . Most people were concerned about the sizeof the grants they might obtain, the accuracyof surveys, the amount and manner of quitrent payments, and laws relating to the disposition of land. These were the subjectof legislative debate for many years, and attempts were made both at home and from London to deal with them. Quitrents probably caused more problems than anythingelse. Rates went up from time to time and were not based on the value of the land or on the ability of the owner to pay. Land waseasy enough to acquire. One had only to find a plot not owned by someone else and secure an order from the governor or his representative in the land grant office to haveit surveyed. A surveyorwould preparea plat of the land which would be returned to the office to be recorded. A patent, equivalent to a deed, would then be issued from the governor's office and delivered to the new owner. The cost usually was about £10 or less for 640 acres, and the annual quitrent in 1773was 2s. 64. per 100 acres. Surveyorswere authorized a fee of £i 135. 4-d. for each 1,000acres. Agriculture Early settlers attempted to produce some ofthe exotic fruits, herbs, and tropical plants that the promotional publications insisted could be grown in the colony's latitude. When those failed, they turned to such reliable crops as corn, beans, peas, and squash which they adopted from the native Americans. They 131 6 L 132 North Carolina through four Centuries also learned from the Indians some important secrets of farming. In England farmers simply broke the ground of a field and broadcast seed; hundreds of years had rid fields of many weeds and most insects, and the climate wasconducive to growth. When they tried this in America, weeds quickly choked the sprouting seeds, and insects, birds, and wild animals devoured whatever survived. The Indians laughed at the whites, and began to teach them to plant their seeds in rows or hills, to chop out the weeds, and to tend the growing plants carefully. Larger estates developed in the cast than elsewhere and planters soon were exporting a large variety of products: grain of various kinds, salt pork and beef, tallow, barrel staves, naval stores, lumber, tobacco, and skins. These were often exchanged for rum, molasses, sugar, coffee, clothing, household goods, and other items. In the backcountry farms were smaller, in part because the land was less fertile and the abundant hardwood trees were more difficult to remove than the pines so common in the east. Small industrialenterprises often developed on the swifter streams there, particularlyamong the Scots-Irish and Germans who were adept at building and operating gristmills and tanneries. In many isolated communities the weavers, carpenters, coopers, wheelwrights,wagon makers, tailors, blacksmiths, hatters, and rope makers—all of whom offered a necessary servicebecame the most prosperous. Corn wasgrown throughout the colony. It was popular because it wasrelatively easy to grow, and it could be put to many uses. Sometimes after a crop of early corn was harvested, something else was planted in its place. Corn could also be grown on new ground before it was completely cleared. It was the practice of pioneer settlers simply to girdle a tree to kill it and leave the dead tree standing until it fell or until they found a more convenient time to remove it. Among its assorted uses, corn could be eaten fresh as "roastin' ears," of course, or,when mature and dry, ground into meal to makecornbread, mush, or grits. It could also be treated with lye to make hominy. With no effort at all, whole ears could be fed to livestock. Thomas Ash, the author of a promotional tract in 1682, reported still another use. "At Carolina," he wrote, "they have lately invented a way of makeing...


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