Crops were important to the southern economy. Because they did so well farming, the southerners did not make many tools or household goods. They grew large crops of tobacco, corn, rice and wheat, which people wanted in England. In the 1600s, tobacco was very important. It was the most valuable export. The tobacco was put in barrels, shipped to England and sold. Most Maryland people grew tobacco on small farms. Sometimes, whole plantations depended on the tobacco crop. With money from tobacco, plantation owners could live a good life. The Southern Colonies primarily depended on cotton and tobacco plantations. As the plantations grew they had to employ black slaves. The plantations were fully self contained with their own blacksmith, teachers and professionals. So there were no big cities or towns. The Southern Colonies had a strict three class system: upper class rich plantation owners, middle class small plantation owners, lower class poor whites and a population of Negroes of "no" class. As can be seen socially all three sets of colonies were different. Yeoman farmers, who worked smaller tracts of land, sat in popular assemblies and found their way into political office. Their outspoken independence was a constant warning to the oligarchy of planters not to encroach too far upon the rights of free men. By the early 18th century, colonial legislatures held two significant powers: the right to vote on taxes and expenditures, and the right to initiate legislation rather than merely act on proposals of the governor. The legislatures used these rights to check the power of royal governors and to pass other measures to expand their power and influence. In time, the center of colonial administration shifted from London to the provincial capitals.
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