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The Planter as a Social Type


To what extent was the planter class in British America a New World innovation and to what extent was the concept of the planter copied from British and Iberian precedents?

Compare and contrast planters in seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century British America and the United States.

“The Plantocracy constituted the most crudely philistine of all dominant classes in the history of Western slavery.” Discuss.

To what extent was John Adams right when he commented on southern planters that “these Gentlemen are accustomed, habituated to higher People than We are”?

To what extent did the pursuit of gentility “validate planter power, provide a sense of personal improvement and create existential order in a chaotic world”? (Rozbicki)


Trevor Burnard, “The Planter Class,” in Gad J. Heuman and Trevor Burnard, eds., The Routledge History of Slavery (London: Routledge, forthcoming).

Michal J. Rozbicki, The Complete Colonial Gentleman: Cultural Legitimacy in Plantation America (Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 1998), 28-75.

Michael Craton, “Reluctant Creoles: The Planters’ World in the British West Indies,” in Bernard Bailyn and Philip D. Morgan, eds., Strangers within the Realm: Cultural Margins of the First British Empire (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1991), 315-62.