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Southern Colonies Facts You'd Love to Know

United States [1627–1776]

By Saul Mcleod, Last Updated: May 23, 2022

The southern colonies were known for their large plantations and growing cash crops. These regions were extremely prosperous. Many colonists became rich by owning large plantations. There are many southern colonies’ facts to be known. In this article, we will talk about each colony in detail. Let’s start!

The five southern colonies included Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.


The Virginia colony was founded by John Smith in 1607 at Jamestown. It got its name from England’s Queen Elizabeth I. When John Smith first arrived, he saw that people were not interested in making permanent shelters or searching for food. Instead, they were only interested in scouring the new land for gold. 

John Smith commenced the policy of “No Work, No Food.” This helped turn around the economy of Jamestown. But this colony’s economy truly flourished when they started farming tobacco. This attracted many more colonists to the Virginia colony and started to expand it further inland. 

This resulted in disputes between the American Indians and the colonists. When the governor, James Smith, refused to help the frontier colonists for his selfish reasons, Nathaniel Bacon, a British colonist, organized a band of colonists and started a revolt against the corrupt government. This came to be known as Bacon’s rebellion. 


The Maryland colony was founded by Cecilius Calvert, also known as Lord Baltimore, in 1633. His father, George Calvert, was a shrewd politician in England, but his career took a fall when he announced he was a Catholic. So, he planned to migrate to the new world and form a colony that offered religious freedom to the Catholics.  

Maryland was named in honor of Queen Henrietta Maria of England. Maryland’s economy was majorly dependent on the iron and shipbuilding industries and agriculture.

Religious disputes sprouted in Maryland, home to both Catholics and Protestants. Catholics were given more importance and advantages. But, after a revolt led by the protestants, Catholics were banned from important government jobs. 

The Carolinas

North and South Carolina were originally single colonies in 1663. North Carolina and South Carolina were named after Charles the First. 

Both these colonies were situated far apart and mostly operated independently. And after a revolt, this colony was divided into two with individual governments. They both were turned into separate royal colonies. 

North Carolina

North Carolina was founded by Virginian colonists in 1653. The agriculture industry mainly consisted of tobacco, rice, and indigo plantations. They raised livestock and produced meat. 

They also produced turpentine and tar. 

South Carolina

English colonists found South Carolina in 1663. Plantations in South Carolina were mainly focused on rice, cotton, tobacco, and indigo. Charleston was a major town in South Carolina. 


James Oglethorpe founded the Georgia colony in 1732. It is named for King George II. Georgia was situated between Spain-ruled Florida and the Carolinas to act as a buffer state. 

James Oglethorpe wanted to establish a colony without a wealth gap between people. He also wanted it to be a haven for people who were prisoners due to unpaid debts back in Britain. 

So each person was given 50 acres of land and silkworms. But this plan failed because some lands were not fertile. And Georgia was not suitable for growing silk. This caused the debtors to flee to Carolina. Due to this, Georgia became a royal colony controlled by the British Crown. 

Agriculture in Georgia included sugar, rice, and indigo. Georgia colony did not allow slave labor. 

Important Aspects of the Southern Colonies

In this section, we will discuss some factors that affected the lifestyle of the southern colonies, such as slavery, religion, geography, government, and economic patterns. 


One of the most unfortunate chapters in American history is that of slavery. The Southern colonies were abundant with slaves and indentured servants, as people were demanding to work on the plantations. 

Indentured servants were those who migrated to America from New England and accepted work on plantations to pay for their passage from Britain to the New World. 

When settlers could not afford to live on the plantations, they moved further inland, which was not inhabited by the natives. This led to many disputes between the colonists and the native Americans.

Virginia had the largest slave population. Slavery was abolished after the American Civil War ended in 1865. 


Religion was of the utmost importance in the northern colonies. The New England colonies were divided due to their differences in religion. But religion didn’t have the same effect in the south as it did in the north. 

The Anglican and Baptist religions were significant in the southern religious life. The Maryland colony housed Catholics and protestants. However, the people were highly tolerant of different religions. 

Geography and Climate

Because of the favorable climate, agriculture flourished in the southern colonies. The southern regions enjoyed warm weather and mild winters. The land was fertile and situated along the coastal plains. The growing season was also longer. 

But the downside to the hot and humid summers was that they allowed diseases to fester. Many deadly epidemics broke out, leading to numerous deaths. 

The southern colonies were situated along the coastline, in harbors, plains, and bays, and around rolling hills. The British subjects took great advantage of the natural resources in the Chesapeake Bay. 


Farming was the primary occupation of people in the southern colonies. The major crops grown here include tobacco, rice, indigo, cotton, and sugarcane. These crops are referred to as cash crops.

These resources were exported to other colonies as well as countries in Europe. The slave trade also became an integral part of the economy in the southern colonies. 


Colonies with a charter were free to form their government. The Government in the southern colonies included a governor and a governor’s council. They also had a court and an elected assembly. 

The colonies were given a royal charter, but many had their charters revoked. Some of them became royal colonies controlled by the British monarchy. 

Here you will find answers to frequently asked questions about the southern colonies.

What Was Life Like in the Southern Colonies?

Life in the southern colonies mainly involved farming on the vast plantations. The colonies were abundant in resources, and the climate was suitable for farming.

Many plantation owners became wealthy from the trade with other colonies and New England.

What Are 3 Characteristics of the Southern Colonies?

Three major characteristics of the southern colonies were: the warm climate, farming on large plantations, and slavery.


This article includes all the important southern colonies facts you need to know. These colonies had booming economies because of farming on their large plantations and the slave trade.

Cite this Article (Chicago Style)

Mcleod, S. "Southern Colonies Facts You'd Love to Know." World History Blog, May 23, 2022.

About the Author

Saul Mcleod is a qualified psychology teacher with over 17 years' experience of working in further and higher education. He has recently worked as a psychology teaching assistant for The University of Manchester, Division of Neuroscience & Experimental Psychology

He previously worked for Wigan and Leigh College, where he was a psychology lecturer for ten years, primarily teaching A-level psychology and sociology.