Comparative studies of landscapes and architecture provide additional insights to research already available on mid- to late-eighteenth-century plantations and the mindsets of the colonial elite that oversaw their construction. Many examples exist of plantation owners modifying landscapes rather than using natural topography, suggesting the plantation layout is a mirror of the owner’s personal worldview or, on a deeper level, a projection of future aspirations. By mapping plantation landscapes and comparing spatial layouts, it may be possible to see patterns in how planters structured themselves socially within their own class and used their plantations as a means to rise within their social circles. This would be accomplished by analysing the plantations’ layouts in conjunction with background research on the owners. To begin this comparative analysis, a list of plantations constructed between 1740 and 1790 was compiled, which contained seventeen plantations. While only a small number of plantations in Maryland and Virginia have been thoroughly mapped, comparison between plantation layouts has yielded positive results. Building a “plantation grammar”, or set of elements and structures common to the plantations, gave insight into the mindset of Governor Horatio Sharpe of Maryland. This insight brought a feature of his plantation historically accepted by scholars into question. When considering all aspects of Sharpe’s plantation, it is highly probable that the feature in question did not exist. Sharpe’s plantation will be discussed below, along with a discussion of various elements of plantation “grammar” observed through comparative studies.
Clifford, Kathleen E.
"Manipulating the Landscape: A Mark, Not Just on the Land, but on the Minds of Men,"
Northeast Historical Archaeology:
47, Article 4.
Available at: https://orb.binghamton.edu/neha/vol47/iss1/4