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‘Planting for Future Generations’
Plantation America as a Platonic Exercise in the Perfection of Social Forms
© 2022 James LaFond
The driving force behind planting, was a removal of the underclass from the home country. Such an undertaking must be organized by the merchant class or gentry, with the former possessing the skills most compatible with success but least compatible with long term concord with the monarch.
The key to Planting a proprietary and potentially break-away society under the stewardship of an insecure monarch, is that monarch’s poor tax base compared to a nationalistic oligarchy. Thus, most English plantations would follow the proprietary model, promising a gainful tax base to the King and loyalty from the individual or corporate proprietor.
A secondary function of the plantation was the creation of its own armed force, so that the monarch would not be saddled with the ruinous military obligation to defend the planted lands.
Thomas White, in his Planter’s Pleas of 1630, argues for using the Book of Genesis as a plantation model.
John Locke argues for the creation of a hereditary class of servants called leet men who will serve the plantation Oligarchy.
William Bradford and the founders of New England in the 1620s, and Oglethorpe, founder of Georgia in the 1730s, decided on Colonization, experiments in new social models that will better provide the monarch with the tax base and loyal provincial military he wishes. Oglethorpe’s effort was the last and would be foiled by the adherent’s to Locke’s Oligarchy. Predictably, the scions of the New England efforts would turn on the home country.
Thus, the minor thread, two of the three colonial provinces, not the major thread, being the ten plantation provinces, would come to embody the anachronistic American Myth of the 13 colonies and a set of Founding Fathers appearing more than a hundred years after foundation. This may be gleaned in part by a reading of Francis Bacon, perhaps the keenest mind of the age.
Francis Bacon wrote his only English book for the English King, who fancied himself an intellectual, being King James of Bible fame. This 1605 book, Advancement of Learning, contains the keys Bacon envisions as necessary for creating a better society, which ought to be done in virgin country he maintains, in service to the king. He will expand on this through the 1620s in such concise works as Plan of the Work, On Plantations and The New Atlantis.
It should be noted here that Bacon is a candidate for theories that William Shakespeare did not write the plays attributed to him, and that Bacon used the stage actor as a proxy. Not having an interest in these works, this writer is in no position to comment.
Bacon is a figment of the plantation era, an ideologue with a true interest in science, possessed of the lawyer’s thirst for political power had through oratory and argument, and infected with the merchant’s greed for gain. Some quotes pertinent to the following inquiry into Plantation America, written outside of his brief essay On Plantations include:
“Man, the servant and interpreter of nature...nor is nature conquered except by obedience...the failure of works arises from ignorance of causes...God forbid that we publish a dream of our imagination as a model of the world; but rather may he benignantly grant us to write a revelation and true vision of the footsteps and marks of the Creator upon his creatures… a planting for future generations and the Immortal God...a holy temple after the model of the world.”
-Plan of the Work, 1620
Bacon’s Legacy, as an inspired and informed genius is later suggestive in the American and French Revolutions. In America, the ideological bent of the revolutionaries seem to look backward at Bacon and so preserve the intervening hundred and fifty years between his penning of On Plantations in 1625 and their new nation structured in 1775, and then strike a compromise for posterity, representing in various parts his ideal vision, the actual process of plantation, and their revisionary colonization.
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