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Feudalistic Culture In the Southern Colonies


When the Anglicans, or Cavaliers, came from England to
settle the southern colonies of North America, they brought
with them many of the same customs that they had formerly
used. Their ways, unlike those of the Puritans and
Protestants settling the northern colonies, were very
feudalistic because of the true feudalistic society which
they had left in England. The Anglicans' feudalistic
customs instituted in the New World affected every aspect
of the society, including the economy, politics, and social
The economy of the South was extremely feudalistic. Just as
in a genuine feudal society, the southern colonies had a
mercantile economy while the rest of the colonies were
industrialized. A mercantile economy is one in which the
majority of the working population is made up of
businessmen. More importantly however, in the South, only a
small number of people, the planter class, actually owned
all the land, and the rest of the population lived on it.
Land meant power, and the individuals who had had land and
power in England also had it in America. Because feudalism
cannot exist without abundant free labor, those of the
powerful planter class had many serfs. The feudal
hierarchical arrangement of the southern colonies' economy
was simply the Anglicans' way of transporting their
previous feudal culture to the New World.
Social aspects of the southern colonies, too, closely
resembled feudalistic ways. In England, the Anglicans were
a society of classes and hierarchy; however in the New
World, a Democracy was established, thus abolishing
classes. Because of these new rules, the southern colonists
became a society of deference, or internalized class
system. An internal class system is one that is not in the
form of a law, but is implied among those of such a
society. People respected whom they were taught were their
"betters", and ignored or degraded those below them. The
planter class was also very religiously conservative. They
were Anglicans, the lower class was either Baptists or
Methodists, and there was no intention of changing that.
Such religious conservatism was also found in Feudal
society, and it signified stagnant, anti-progressive
culture. The South's strong military tradition was also
similar to that of Feudalism in the sense that nearly
everyone who was physically capable would join the
military. Finally, the planter class was very
anti-Capitalist. This meant they wanted rank to be based on
land and money, not on merit, as was the surrounding
Capitalist culture. The planter class simply did not want
to be forced to become businessmen in order to achieve
greatness, and they liked the idea of material wealth
bringing power. Feudalism showed extremely strong signs of
existence in the South's social system.
Politics in the South were also quite feudalistic. Although
there was not a well developed political culture, it was
apparent that people did not favor independent rule as they
did up north. People liked having a central ruler govern
their community. Each southern colony had a colonial
legislature and a royal governor from England, which, of
course, were dominated by the planter class. Few well-known
rulers emerged from the South, however, because of the
feudalistic desire there to maintain the status quo. All
remained stagnant, and no new political ideas developed.
In the New World, the Cavaliers from England established a
very feudalistic society. They chose to re-establish the
type of culture which they had left in England, and thus
became the stagnant culture they were until the late 1800s.
Culture is a very powerful phenomenon; those who adapt to a
specific culture will then try to recreate it in a new and
unfamiliar place, just as the Anglicans did in the New



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