What Type of People Lived in the Southern Colonies?

A variety of people lived in the southern colonies, including plantation owners, indentured servants and slaves. Unlike their counterparts in New England, the southern colonists were predominantly Anglican (with the exception of Maryland). Many men who settled in the south were second sons of English nobility. The primary motivation for voyagers to the southern colonies was economic opportunity.

The southern colonies generally had a different religious climate than the north. Whereas New Englanders were oppressed religious groups of Puritans and Quakers looking to build a faith-based community undisturbed, the southern colonies were the result of business ventures. Because of this, the south typically had a more relaxed attitude regarding religion. Maryland, which was established as a bastion where English Catholics could practice their faith in public, was an exception.

Southern colonists dedicated themselves to cash crop farming of tobacco, rice and indigo, not the small subsistence farming of New England. Southern plantations were big, complete with smokehouses, dairies and shops for carpenters. Large plantations were like small villages. Many hands were needed to get all the work completed. The first major source of labor was indentured servitude. Indentured servants were people who came from England but did not have money to pay for their passage. A sponsor in the colonies paid their fare in exchange for a period of unpaid labor, often seven years. Eventually, African slaves replaced indentured servants as the backbone of the Southern plantation system.