Written by Kathleen Gagne
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Plantations are most often associated with the Old South and a lifestyle that created centuries of profit for some and strife for others. Landed entrepreneurs and their way of life was not, in fact, indigenous only to the historical southern United States. This form of combined business and personal life was also present in the North and, in other variations, in many areas of the world.

The owners of these remarkable enterprises and their families produced copious records of their lives and business dealings. Their writings records give us a clear and diverse picture of this period in history. The records include business transactions of all kinds. They clearly show that the Southern landowners who ruled them made significant contributions to creating a market society in the United States. At the same time, they did so by exploiting the labor and lives of other groups of people, leading to the costliest war in American history.

Southern Plantations Today

Very few people dispute the fact that white Southern landowners created an untenable societal structure that could have destroyed a nation. Instead, they destroyed their own way of life. They lost the war. They were forced to change how they lived, and they faced, in many cases, tremendous loss, poverty, and despair.

One of the ways they adapted was to take in boarders. It was the only way many families could retain their property. Still, thousands of families lost all but their huge homes, most of which were damaged and looted during the Civil War. In spite of the turmoil, in spite of the loss, in spite of the recognition that their ancestors' way of life was morally wrong, there were some elements of beauty that are preserved today in plantation bed and breakfasts scattered throughout the South for you to enjoy.

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