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This book explores the centrality of race in the development of Georgia, from its founding in 1733 until the eve of the Civil War. During that time, Georgia's racial order shifted from a more fluid conception of race prevalent in the colonial era to a more harsh understanding of racial difference in the antebellum era. This study argues that long-term structural and demographic changes accounted for this transformation. This book traces the rise of rice cultivation and the plantation complex in lowcountry Georgia in the mid-eighteenth century and charts the spread of slavery into the backcountry in the decades that followed. The growth of the white population in the interior of Georgia after the Revolution repositioned the demographic, economic, and political center of the state. The expulsion of the Creek and Cherokee Indians and subsequent settling of Georgia's black belt gave whites in the upcountry an increasingly influential voice in the state's political affairs, including matters related to slavery and race. The attendant emergence of the cotton kingdom fundamentally re-ordered relations between and among blacks, whites, and Indians. The result was the creation of a racially bifurcated society that stood in marked contrast to the racial order that characterized life in early Georgia.

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY




978-0-8131-3446-8 (pdf version)


978-0-8131-4021-6 (epub version)



Georgia, Slavery, Native Americans, Eighteenth century, Nineteenth century, Lowcountry, Black belt, Rice, Cotton, Race


African American Studies | Inequality and Stratification | United States History

Cultivating Race: The Expansion of Slavery in Georgia, 1750-1860
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