2. In the Chesapeake region from the 1760s through the 1780s, free and enslaved blacks challenged slavery, economic changes undermined the region’s plantation system, and the emergence of political ideologies opposed to slavery put slaveholders on the defensive. Nonetheless, by the late 1780s, slaveholders, the system they maintained, and white supremacy emerged from the American Revolution stronger and more dynamic than ever. Beginning in the 1790s, the Chesapeake plantation system would spread rapidly to the trans-Appalachian West, while the sons and slaves of Chesapeake planters established the first wave of cotton plantations in the Georgia and South Carolina interior, forming the basis for slavery’s later expansion into the Cotton Kingdom.
“A Map and Chart of those Parts of the Bay of Chesapeak York and James Rivers,” engraving by John Lodge (London, 1781). Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts.