Plantation workers packed tobacco for shipment to England.They piled dried tobacco leaves inside the hogshead, pressed them down with weights or a screw and lever, and repeated the process until the hogshead was tightly packed. But dried leaves were smoked in clay pipes, chewed, or sniffed as a powder.
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Ships returning from the Americas carried new luxuries that transformed daily life—sugar and tobacco.
Beginning in the 1600s, sugar and tobacco offered people on both sides of the Atlantic new flavor sensations.
Exotic and expensive, they made some planters in the Americas, merchants in England, and ship owners who connected them immensely rich.
The price was the forced labor of millions of African people.
The work of field hands on plantations in the Americas changed the lives of consumers elsewhere.
Spanish traders first brought tobacco to Europe from the Americas in the 1500s.England joined the trade in the 1600s, and tobacco became a favorite indulgence for millions.Tobacco’s popularity drove much of the economy of the north Atlantic world.Colonial Virginia and Maryland produced relatively little else, and tobacco profits kept these colonies alive.Millions of lives revolved around tobacco—Scots and English merchants, Chesapeake planters, indentured servants who worked the fields until their debts had been paid, and enslaved men, women, and children who tended and processed the plants.An international host of sailors connected them all. Indentured servants and enslaved Africans planted, harvested, and prepared the crop for shipment.