What Was Social Life Like in the Southern Colonies?

Social life in the southern colonies was based on the strict social class system in place at the time, so activities varied for those colonists who were wealthy versus those who were poor, and for those who were free versus indentured servants or slaves. With no large cities in the colonies, social life revolved around plantation and farm life.

For those wealthy landowners, their large plantation homes were hubs of social activity. Parties and gatherings were the social highlights for the upper class, who benefited from the use of servants in preparing for these events.

For poorer families, socializing was limited, as life was often hard. Farmers and their wives were primarily responsible for planting and harvesting without much, if any, help. Outside the harvest season, social activities included family gatherings and bonfires.

Women’s lives in the colonies varied especially, with wealthy landowners’ wives responsible for far less physical work than their poorer counterparts. Plantation wives did attend to household management, overseeing staff and meals, sewing clothing and preparing foods such as preserves, butter and cured meats.

Poor women who lived on farms, however, typically handled every aspect of domestic life single-handedly, and were also expected to help their husbands with planting and harvesting, if needed. These demands left little free time for socializing, although churches did provide opportunities to mix with other wives.

One common social activity different classes shared was hunting, with gentry preferring to hunt deer and foxes, while poorer men sought rabbits and fowl.