Tobacco Coast is the history of how the Chesapeake Bay shaped the society and economy of an ertire region. Its hundreds of miles of navigable tributaries made adoption of the tobacco staple possible and eliminated the necessity of cities and towns; its physical dominance created an "essencial unity" of lands sharing its shores, despite the political decisions that created separate colonies of Maryland and Virgina. Middleton recaptures the peril faced by the early colonists (Father Andrew White, who arrived in the Ark, wrote that "all the Sprights and witches of Maryland" seemed arrayed in battle against the ship whn violent storms struck off the coast) and traces how the sttlers persevered and the colonies thrived, due in great measure to the growth of tobacco as the mainstray of Chesapeake commerce (in 1775 it represented over 75 precent of the total value of exports from the Chesapeake colonies and was worth some $4 million).
Colonial life and commerce, shipbuilding and the merchant marine, privateers and self-protection—all are treated with insight, drama, and thoroughness in a fascinating maritime history, long out of print and now made widely available for the first time.
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