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CAPE HISTORY U1 PP - Lecture 06

Theme 1: Experience and Strategies f Survival of Enslaved
(a) The concepts of enslavement and slavery.
(b) Control through “Slave Laws”: Spanish OR French OR
(i) responsibilities: enslavers and enslaved; and
(ii) penalties.
On completion of this Module, students should:
1. understand the character of Caribbean society during
the period of enslavement;
2. appreciate the significance of the struggles against
enslavement; and
3. understand the process of abolition.
The Concepts of Enslavement & Slavery
 Introduction: How the Caribbean Came Under European
The Caribbean was first colonised by the Spanish in the 15th century
Other European countries came and settled overtime; namely France and
The English settled St. Kitts (1624), Nevis (1628) Barbados (1627),
Antigua & Montserrat
The French established colonies in Martinique & Guadeloupe
England and France joined Spain which had established its first colony in the
region more than 100 years before
The Concepts of Enslavement & Slavery
Introduction cont’d -:
Why did the Europeans come to the Caribbean
-The Spanish originally searched for gold & silver
-They found relatively small quantities
Instead the Europeans tried growing different crops to sell back home:
-They unsuccessfully experimented with tobacco
-The English colonists tried growing sugar cane and it grew well after
its introduction
Uses of sugar cane:
- Sugar, as a sweetener for tea, coffee & Chocolate
- Rum
There was a demand in Europe for these products; as a result those who grew
sugar cane became wealthy
The Rise of Slavery
The spread of sugar plantation in the Caribbean created a great
need for workers
-sugar production is labour intensive
The systematic removal of the indigenous people and the imposition
of European settlements in the Caribbean led directly to the
development of TWO (2) labour system:
• Indentured servitude
• Chattel slavery
Labour Systems
(1) Indentured Servitude
This employed white men & women from Europe – France, Holland,
England & Ireland
These indentured servants signed contracts for labour for FOUR (4)
This system predates chattel slavery (in the Americas) by about 10
After enslaved blacks were introduced to the plantations the two
systems were used to produce firstly cotton, tobacco, and indigo,
then after the 1640s, sugar
Labour Systems
(1) Indentured Servitude
Reasons indentured labourers came to the British & French colonies
Some voluntarily greed to give service for a stipulated period, usually 4
years, to an employer in the Caribbean
Others were vagrants & beggars who had become burdens on society. They
were seen as undesirables and were sent to give labour under contract in the
Opponents who challenged the Government were banished (to Barbados or
Guadeloupe) as punished
Europeans who had been convicted and jailed were also among those who
came to the Caribbean to serve on the plantations as indentured servants
(1) Indentured Servitude
 Characteristics
It was contract labour for a specified time
Though they worked along side black enslaved people on the
plantations, they were never classified as slaves
Unlike the offspring of black slaves, their children would not be
forced to work.
At the expiration of their contracts indentured were free to leave
-Some left, heading for places like the Carolinas, others going to
Jamaica and the Western Caribbean in search of quick fortune
-some remained in countries like Barbados where they occupied small
plots of land on the east coast of the island and survived by fishing
and farming
(1) Indentured Servitude
 Characteristics (cont’d)
Provision was made for indentured servants t obtain legal redress if
their “employers” were unduly harsh in their treatment. Unlike the
enslaved blacks they could complain to the authorities
Why did Indentured Servitude end?
(1) Indentured Servitude
 Reasons it Ended
Increase preference for enslaved labour from Africa
Indentured servants were always in short supply
News of the treatment of indentured servants spread and this did
not encourage voluntary migration
From an economic perspective planters considered African labour
to be cheaper in the long term
– in 1694 an indentured servant cost about 12 Pound while an African was sold
for 25 pounds.
- While the indentured servant was cheaper initially, the cost of upkeep was
higher than that of the African
- The African served for life and his offspring could be enslaved
- The indentured labourer served for 4 years
NB: By the beginning of the 18th Century as importation of Africans
increased, indentured servants became scarce in the Caribbean
(2) Slavery
- A condition in which individuals are owned by others
who control where they live and at what they work.
slavery previously existed throughout history; the
ancient Greeks, the Romans, Incas and Aztecs all had
What is Chattel Slavery?
(2) Chattel Slavery
A chattel slaves is an enslaved person who is owned for ever
and whose children and children’s children are automatically
Chattel slaves are individuals treated as complete property, to
be bought and sold
Chattel slavery was supported and made legal by many
European governments & Monarchs
This type of slavery was practised in European colonies from
the 16th century onwards
Indentured Servitude v Chattel Slavery
The status of the labourer distinguished one
from the other
The African:
The Servant:
Never lost his rights
Stripped of his freedom,
natural rights & denied
citizenship, deemed as
property, inventoried with
the estate cattle &
equipment, he could be
destroyed or killed,
separated from family by
sale, sold for payment of
debt , ill-treated without
Domestic slavery in West Africa was not chattel slavery
A person could become involved in domestic slavery in West Africa if
he were:
-A prisoner of war
-Owed a debt
-Convicted of a serious crime (murder, rape, adultery,
-Facing famine (some parents allowed their children to act as
domestic slaves.
MAIN Differences – slaves in West Africa could regain their freedom
- the children of these enslaved persons in West
Africa would never become slaves
In the Villages
Life of the chattel slave normally begins with the slave raid:
Fires would be lit on the outskirts of villages resulting in chaos
West Africans would be quickly captured by heavily armed individuals
The captives were placed in coffles and forced to walk for miles to the
During the journey they were poorly fed and hydrated resulting in may
deaths. Those too ill or weak were cut from the coffles and left to die
from their illness or from the elements
At the coast, the Captives would wait to be placed on ships (Slavers)
At the Coast
Captives were poorly fed and hydrated which led to many more dying
before boarding the ship
African Traders would bargain with European agents (‘factors’)
Captives would be placed in baracoons at the mercy of the elements
Lastly, they were checked by doctors and those who were rejected
(mackrons) would not go on the journey across the Atlantic
Rejects included – persons with grey hair, missing teeth, sexually
transmitted diseases, open wounds etc.
Healthy individuals would be branded and placed on slavers.
Thus begins the journey – the middle passage, the second leg of the
‘triangular trade’
The Triangular Trade
A historical term indicating trade between three (3) ports/regions.
For this purpose, it is defined as trading during the 17th to 19th
century that involved shipping goods and African captives between
Europe, West Africa and the Americas
The Middle Passage
This was the second stage in the trans-Atlantic trade.
The Middle was the journey of the African captives from West Africa
to the Americas
A horrific journey lasting between 6 to 8 weeks (depending on
weather and destination)
It is estimated that between 10 and 20 million African captives were
taking to the Americas during the trade
Ships were usually overloaded with their human cargo
Conditions on the Slavers:
Conditions were horrible resulting in high mortality
Women and girls faced sexual abuse by the ship’s crew
The ships lacked sanitary convenience – the areas occupied by the Africans were
unhygienic; the area was washed daily with only water. This led to the outbreak of
diseases (dysentery, cholera etc.)
The Africans were placed below deck where they remained chained. Women &
children were kept together and men by themselves. Below deck the temperature
was hot and persons would die from heat stroke.
If food supplies ran low only the healthiest individuals were fed, and sometimes
the sick and very week were thrown overboard
The Africans were allowed to go above deck once per day, if weather permitted, to
exercise. The exercise was aimed at reducing the risk of blood clots that could
result in death.
Arrival in the Caribbean
The horrible conditions of the Middle Passage would be evident on
the African at the time of arrival in the Caribbean
The ship’s crew would have to prepare the captives for sale. This
process was called “refreshing”. The process involved giving the
captives baths and removing visible grey hairs. Their muscles would
be rubbed with palm oil to enhance their appearance, and to hide
scars and bruises, a mixture of gun powder, lime juice and iron rust
was used. They were also fed fruits and vegetables to enhance their
In the Caribbean the captives would be sold either by a process of
auction or scramble.
 Local colonial assemblies and individual planters introduced
measures to repress their slave population. Many of these
methods could be classified as :
The system of enslavement in the Caribbean developed without any
inherited rules/laws to govern its operation.
The practise and the laws were developed along the way to guide the
These rules/ laws developed out of necessity
These laws enforced the fact that the enslaved had no rights, they were
property that could be bought or sold. They had no redress under the
law e.g. if an enslaved was killed or mutilated by a white person who was
not the owner, compensation was paid to the owner for destruction of
The result – enslavement on a Caribbean sugar estate was the
destruction of the identity of the enslaved person mentally and
Legal Control Measures
British Laws
The British Caribbean had no universal slave code but,
individual colonies created their own laws
Throughout the colonies there was a common thread with some of
the legal slave control measures. These included:
Slaves not being allowed to leave the estate without permission
Slaves not being allowed to congregate in large numbers because
this would suggest unity which could possibly lead to revolt
Slaves not being allowed to beat drums, blow horns and carry
Legal Control Measures
British Laws (cont’d)
Reading & writing, and slave marriages were forbidden
Enslaved persons were not allowed to rent houses or land, or buy
liquor without the master’s consent
Obeah and group meetings carried the death penalty
Manumissions, the ability to purchase one’s freedom, were
Legal Control Measures
 (II) French Laws (Code Noir\Black Code)
 The laws were directly drawn up in France.
 The articles in the code:
allowed enslaved Africans the ability to marry with their master’s
Suggested that planters were to provide food & clothing for slaves and
to provide for the elderly & disabled
Provided slaves with the ability to appeal to legal officers known as
Procureur-general (attorney General) to complain about ill treatment
and neglect, but at the same time the code stated that the slaves could
be punished by means of flogging, branding, mutilation and execution
for theft, assault, and attempts to escape.
Legal Control Measures
 (III) Spanish Laws (Las Siete Partidas)
These governed treatment of the enslaved Africans. The Spanish
Outlined that enslaved peoples should not be overworked, starved
or unlawfully punished by their masters
Gave the enslaved the right to buy their freedom, to marry and to
appeal to the court against illegal treatment
Masters were obligated to provide basic amenities for his slaves
Economic Control Measures
There was severe limitation on free time for the enslaved, as free
time was equated to loss of production time on the estate.
A structure of economic dependence was created whereby enslaved
Africans relied to a great extent on the planters for their basic
Though there was an internal marketing system by the enslaved
population, the planters instituted several measures they sought to
limit its viability
Severe restriction was placed on the ability of the enslaved Africans
to carve out an economic livelihood e.g. the growing of ground
provision for sale in the market
Psychological & Ideological Control Measures
Enslaved Africans were also subjected to psychological & ideological control,
but they continued to resist the system of slavery. They did this by:
o Running away
o Malingering, and
o Rebelling
Enslaved women also participated in resistance movement and used their
bodies as weapons in resisting slavery; they practised what was described
“gynaecological resistance”.
The plantation society created a culture whereby the practices of the whites
were seen as superior to that of the Africans. As a result African cultural
practices were denigrated/put down
Social Control Measures
In an effort to control the enslaved population, covert as well as overt social
control measures were encouraged
The creation of a rigid social divide in the wider society as well as amongst
For Example:
– domestics were usually lighter-skinned slaves and they were
entrusted with their master’s valuables and children
- They were allowed too wear better clothes
- The females were allowed to wear necklaces, bracelets and
- Some learnt to cook, sew, read and write
These slaves were loyal to their masters and were most likely to report plans or
Social Control Measures cont’d
Skilled slaves or artisans were highly valued by their masters and
were sometimes hired out.
The skilled slaves had more freedom of movement than other slaves
on the plantation
The Field Slaves – they were seen as the “worse class” on the sugar
estate and were the ones to usually receive the harsher punishment
This reflected the system of divide and rule amongst enslaved labour
The Enslaved
From Capture to Arrival on the Plantation
-Capture & Enslavement in Africa
-Journey to the coast (and other departure points)
-Storage and package for shipment
-Trans-Atlantic crossing (Middle Passage)
-Sale & distribution in the Americas
Recap Br then continue with Fr & Spanish
Forms of Resistance
Liberties Lost – Chapter 6
Atlantic Interactions – Chapter 4
The Caribbean, the Atlantic World & Global Transformation – Chapter 4
Resistance took the form of the following methods:
- insurrectionary
- non-insurrectionary
Who can give an example of each method?
(A) Insurrectionary Methods
These methods tended to be violent and cause more damage to
the plantation and the whole slave system
Such methods include:
1. Destruction of Property:
 Damage to plantation tools & machinery, done in such a manner
so as to appear accidental.
 Over a prolonged period, this caused considerable cost to the
plantation in terms of repairs
(A) Insurrectionary Methods Cont’d
2. Murder of Plantation Owner(s)
 Poisoning was one of such methods used by domestics
3. Running Away/ Maroonage
4. Rebellions
(B) Non-insurrectionary Methods
These were prolonged non-violent approaches to resisting
Such methods included:
1. Gynaecological
- Exaggerating female complaints
- Inducing abortion
- Prolonging the period of gestation, sometimes opting to breast feed
for as long as two years
- Pretending not to understand the language to evade work
(B) Non-insurrectionary Methods (cont’d)
2. Malingering
- Pretending to be ill or
- Exaggerating any existing ailment or
- Sometimes injuring themselves
3. Suicide