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Labor in the Colonies

Labor in the Colonies

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Labor in the Colonies

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  1. Labor in the Colonies

  2. Labor Shortage in colonies • Why is there a labor shortage? - people want to own land not work for others - Indians did not make a good labor force - high death rate made slaves an unacceptable source

  3. Indentured Servants • Master pays for voyage • Servant repays with work - typically around 7yrs • Most came voluntarily to start a new life • Criminals, orphans, vagrants, paupers • Some were “impressed”

  4. Indentured Servants • What happened to most indentured servants after they fulfilled their contract? - no land, no job, no family - largest source of social unrest in colonies • How was life different for a woman indentured servant?

  5. Why does the practice of indentured servatude end and the purchase of slaves begin?

  6. Bacon's Rebellion • 1676 • Indentured servants set free • move to western Chesapeake • angry over govt. unwillingness and inability to protect them from Natives • Turn more to slave trade • Indentured Servants who earned their freedom stirred up social unrest

  7. Virginia

  8. Governor Berkeley Nathaniel Bacon The Governor who is interested in making money. Leads the Freed Indentured Servants in demanding protection from the Natives.

  9. Slavery Replaces Indentured Servants • Indentured servants decline in 1670s • Why? - fear of unrest - decrease in English birth rate - increase in English prosperity - increase in life expectancy in the colonies

  10. Atlantic Slave Trade • Forced immigration of 11 million • First sent to Caribbean and S. America • After 1670 N. American British colonies

  11. Middle Passage • slave trade portion of triangular trade • captured by whites and blacks • conditions - vary from ship to ship - some death was expected - ships were filthy - no lighting - starvation, rape, disease, etc..

  12. There is the diagram of a slave ship, showing precisely how the slaves themselves were stowed, how they were placed for the voyage when they were below decks or between decks. Typically there were two levels, one above the other, on either side of the ship, with a central passageway. They had about 18 inches head room, less than 2 feet head room. They couldn't sit. And because they were manacled, they couldn't really change position very easily at all, without hurting themselves or their companions. When the weather was rough they were kept below for a long period. It must have been a nightmare. In the mornings, after the end of periods of bad weather, when they could finally get down there, they would find two manacled together, one dead and one living. It was quite a common experience. I think that in terms of hell on earth, that must have been as near as anyone ever comes, I think, to it. - Barry Unsworth Author of "The Sacred Hunger"

  13. English Ship Captain 1693 • “When our slaves are aboard we shackle the men two and two, while we lie in port, and in sight of their own country, for ‘tis then they attempt to make their escape and mutiny; to prevent which we always keep centinels upon the hatchways, and have a chest full of small arms, ready loaded and primed, constantly lying at hand upon the quarter-deck, together with some granada shells; and two of our quarter-deck guns pointing on the deck thence, and two more out of the steerage.”

  14. English Ship Captain 1693 • “They are fed twice a day, at 10 in the morning, and 4 in the evening, which is the time they are aptest to mutiny, being all upon deck; therefore all that time, what of our men are not employ’d in distributing their victuals to them, and settling them, stand to their arms; and some with lighted matches at the great guns that yaun upon them, loaded with partridge, ‘til they have done and gone down to their kennels between decks.”

  15. This was regarded as a very, very dangerous tendency, because if one refused to eat, the others would follow suit. There would be large numbers of Africans [who] would die. They already died in large numbers, sometimes from what everyone would call "fixed melancholy," which was a loss of the desire to live. They just died. This didn't depend on eating in particular. They just died. And some peoples were much more prone to that than others, I think. This was temperamental, as well. One of the ways in which they tried to bring death on when they couldn't jump overboard: they tried to just starve themselves to death. And so, in order to discourage this they would force the slave to eat. They would try beating him or putting on thumb screws or torturing him in some way in order to break him and make him eat; or they would force-feed him by forcing open his jaws and forcing food into him.The idea, I think, was that a slave cannot be allowed to die by his own will and intention. He cannot be allowed to die voluntarily. If he's going to die, it must be at the hands of his captors, so that...he doesn't spread a dangerous example. One has to remember that this was all down to profit. It was just money. There was no more care than there would have been for horses or sacks of potatoes, It was just a very valuable cargo which had to be safeguarded as far as possible. Even God-fearing and relatively humane slaving captains would use thumb screws on recalcitrant slaves.... Barry Unsworth

  16. Tight packing v. Loose packing • What is more profitable? • Loose packing - two levels at 5’2” - fits 200 slaves - 10% mortality rate - 180 slaves can be sold • Tight Packing - 4 levels at 2’7” - fits 400 slaves - 25% mortality rate - 300 slaves can be sold

  17. Olaudah Equiano: the life of gustavus vassa • First ever slave autobiography • Sold into slavery in the colonies • Buys freedom • Moves to England • Writes bestseller

  18. The first object which saluted my eyes when I arrived on the coast, was the sea, and a slave ship, which was then riding at anchor, and waiting for its cargo. These filled me with astonishment, which was soon converted into terror, when I was carried on board. I was immediately handled, and tossed up to see if I were sound, by some of the crew; and I was now persuaded that I had gotten into a world of bad spirits, and that they were going to kill me. Their complexions, too, differing so much from ours, their long hair, and the language they spoke, (which was very different from any I had ever heard) united to confirm me in this belief. Indeed, such were the horrors of my views and fears at the moment, that, if ten thousand worlds had been my own, I would have freely parted with them all to have exchanged my condition with that of the meanest slave in my own country. When I looked round the ship too, and saw a large furnace of copper boiling, and a multitude of black people of every description chained together, every one of their countenances expressing dejection and sorrow, I no longer doubted of my fate; and, quite overpowered with horror and anguish, I fell motionless on the deck and fainted. When I recovered a little, I found some black people about me, who I believed were some of those who had brought me on board, and had been receiving their pay; they talked to me in order to cheer me, but all in vain. I asked them if we were not to be eaten by those white men with horrible looks, red faces, and long hair. They told me I was not:

  19. I now saw myself deprived of all chance of returning to my native country, or even the least glimpse of hope of gaining the shore, which I now considered as friendly; and I even wished for my former slavery in preference to my present situation, which was filled with horrors of every kind, still heightened by my ignorance of what I was to undergo. I was not long suffered to indulge my grief; I was soon put down under the decks, and there I received such a salutation in my nostrils as I had never experienced in my life: so that, with the loathsomeness of the stench, and crying together, I became so sick and low that I was not able to eat, nor had I the least desire to taste any thing. I now wished for the last friend, death, to relieve me; but soon, to my grief, two of the white men offered me eatables; and, on my refusing to eat, one of them held me fast by the hands, and laid me across, I think the windlass, and tied my feet, while the other flogged me severely. I had never experienced any thing of this kind before, and although not being used to the water, I naturally feared that element the first time I saw it, yet, nevertheless, could I have got over the nettings, I would have jumped over the side, but I could not; and besides, the crew used to watch us very closely who were not chained down to the decks, lest we should leap into the water; and I have seen some of these poor African prisoners most severely cut, for attempting to do so, and hourly whipped for not eating.

  20. English ship Don Carlos account written by the captain • others had pieces of iron they had torn off our forecastle door, as having premeditated a revolt, and seeing all the ship’s company, at best but weak and many quite sick, they had also broken off the shackles from several of their companions feet, which served them, as well as… all other things they could lay their hands on, which they imagined might be of use for their enterprize. Thus armed, they fell in crouds and parcels on our men, upon the deck unawares, and stabb’d one of the stoutest of us all, who received fourteen or fifteen wounds of their knives, and so expir’d. Next they assaulted our boatswain, and cut one of his legs so round the bone, that he could not move…others cut our cook’s throat to the pipe, and others wounded three of the sailors, and threw one of them overboard in that condition.

  21. English ship Don Carlos account written by the captain • “We stood in arms, firing on the revolted slaves of whom we kill’d some, and wounded many: which so terrified the rest, that they gave way, dispersing themselves… between decks, and under forecastle; and many of the most mutinous, lept overboard, and drowned themselves in the ocean with much resolution, showing no manner of concern for life.”

  22. Slavery was legal and present in ALL colonies • Most were sent to the South • Uncertain status of slaves changed by 18th century - viewed as chattel: property with no rights • Slave codes passed limiting rights

  23. Slave Codes • Punishment for the murder of an enslaved person by a white, for example, was reduced to a mere misdemeanor punishable by a fine. • Slaves could never physically attack a white person except in defense of the slaveholder’s life who owned them. • They could be executed for plotting insurrection or conspiring to run away, burning a barrel of tar or a "stack of rice," or teaching another slave "the knowledge of any poisonous root, plant, [or] herb." • Much of the Negro Act was devoted to controlling minute aspects of a slave’s life. For example, slaves were not allowed to dress in a way "above the condition of slaves." Their clothes could only be made from a list of approved coarse fabrics. • Blacks were prohibited from learning how to read and write, and were not permitted to assemble with one another. • Blacks in violation of these provisions were subject to flogging.

  24. Plantation Life

  25. Based on cash crops • - tobacco • - rice • Indigo • Boom and Bust cycle

  26. Majority of people were small farmers - little or no slaves - if owned slaves: worked side by side w/ them - slaveholders were always in the minority! • Planters (plantation owners) held all the power - market crops for small farmers (no merchant class) - give credit - control politics

  27. Self contained communities • Church, school, planter home, slave quarters, barns, outbuildings, etc…

  28. Plantation Women • Must deal with unwanted sexual advances • Relied on slaves for menial tasks • Must ignore husbands liaisons with slaves

  29. Plantation Slavery

  30. Housing for slaves consisted primarily of a crudely constructed log house with few furnishings.  Most of these cabins were built to contain two families; some had partitions, while others had none

  31. Slave Family Life - marriage not permitted - still had nuclear families - depended more on extended kinship - constant threat of separation

  32. Daily Life • Blended African past and American reality to create - new language - new religion • House slaves were isolated from other slaves • Field hands were worked extremely hard - treatment varied from plantation to plantation • Slaves did the majority of work - blacksmith, carpenter, weaving, sewing, midwifery

  33. Slave Resistance • Don’t work hard • Runaway • Armed Rebellion • What is the most common?

  34. Stono Rebellion 1739

  35. South Carolina • Led by Jemmy • Jemmy and 20 others Start rebellion - kill shopkeepers and leave severed heads on the porch • Eventually 100 involved - kill 2 dozen white people • Posse stops the rebellion - some escape and are captured over time - executed: limbs, torsos, and heads placed on spikes