A History Of The Tobacco Industry In America

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate April 2001

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Tobacco has played an enormous part in the economy and society of America.

Since Columbus landed in the New World, Europeans have been exposed to the tobacco plant. And when Europeans settled in North America, this was, in many places, their most important crop. For years, it provided the newly founded colonies with a primary export and source of income. Tobacco maintained its importance throughout the 17th and most of the 18th century as well, only towards the beginning of the 19th century seeing a defined decrease in its production in America (Kluger, 63). It is still a huge market today, however. Throughout its long history in America, the tobacco industry, as with most, has been constantly changing. New, more convenient forms of production and distribution made it easier to produce and sell larger numbers of tobacco products as the years went on. However, there wasn't as much of a demand for American tobacco as the years went on.

Basically, despite the fact that the quantity of tobacco produced yearly and its economic importance decreased over time, the means of production and selling became increasingly easier and more convenient.

The Jamestown colony, founded in 1607, was the first settlement in America to make great use of tobacco. They, under the guidance of John Rolfe, had perfected methods of growing and curing tobacco, and had a huge European market, as many people simply could not get enough of "the weed"�, as it came to be known. In 1613, Rolfe sent 200 pounds of his tobacco to England, from where demands for more soon came (Johnson). Rolfe was competing with the Spanish tobacco market, so he imported seeds from Spain so he could grow a sweeter type of tobacco, and his success in selling to England continued.

The success that Jamestown...