Chesapeake and Early Slavery

Chesapeake and Early Slavery



1607 Virginia

1634 Maryland

1606 Viginia company established

1607 105 men and boys, only 38 survive teh first 8 months

Looking for gold and quick riches and expect Indians to feed them > starvation and anti Indian feeling.

1609 A form of martial law - LAWES DIVINE, MORRALL AND MARTIALL

Strict controlling regime of forced labour and military discipline.

Then came tobacco

1615 20,000 LBS  - 1630 1.5 million LBS

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Tobacco Cultivation

Need a lot of tobacco to fill the hogsheads

Exhausts land fertility very quickly - 3 years

Needs nurturing

Labour intensive

Vulnerable to disease

Can't be to to hot/cold/wet/dry

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Indentured Servitude

17th c 130,000 came from England 75-80% as indentured servants

3/4 were single men - Brutal - 2/3 died before expiration of term

Indentured servants did not enjoy the customary rights

IS were frequently bought and sold

Women forced to serve additional years in pregant > kids taken away and sold.

Lives of abject misery

Planter elite tried to protect interests by extending period of servitude and steps taken to deny freedmen teh promised land holdings Territory for new lands was marginal and menaced by indians or to far from the river.

Culpepper Gov of V.  Master have guns - servants not to be trusted

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Bacon's rebellion

Giddy Multitude -

social tensions errupted into full scale insurection

Bacons rebellion of 1676

Culmination of increasing runaways in 1650s and 60s

Against the Indians

Saying Berkely was not doing enough to protect the English

Full scale rebellion, torching of Jamestown

Reported that black and white, slaves and indentured servants took part.

The elite responded by divide and rule - by hardening the racial caste of slavery

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The Indian Problem

Pattern of co-operation between Indians and newly arrived colonist until colonists grew in number and began to threaten Indian stability

1622 - massacre of settlers - 350 out of 1500 killed following murder of an Indian by an Englishman > bloody war with Indians for next 10 years >

imposition of royal rule from England and abolition of Virginia company.  BUT assembly left intact.

Unlike the Spanish who made efforts to assimilate and civilise the Indian the English worked to exclude them - need for Land

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1634 200 black Africans and 7500 settlers

Status of africans was unclear as slavery did not exist  as an institution in England and therefore settlers had no need to codify a law of slavery when they arrived in Virginia

Slaves who came to V before 1660 were Atlantic creols who had high level of sophistication and exposure to European Culture (Berlin)

Anthony Johnson arrived 1621 after a period of diligent service was freed, his son John farmed 450 acres  BUT Johnson was an exception - blacks usually places after servants but before animals in wills

1680 in V 3000 slaves = 15000 indentured servants

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Indentured servants cont

White labourers became less willing to emigrate because of improved economy in England

1750 a white servant wage is £20 a year

£7-8 buys a slave for life,

Runaway white servants could blend into surrounding popn.  Blacks could not,

Black Africans more used to tropical conditions

English had some knowledge of redress through courts

Alternatives to slavery = convicts but not liked and blamed unfairly for increase in crime .  America should send her rattlesnakes to England in return for her human serpants (Franklin)

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Planter led but successful - more slaves

The south became planter led and reliant on single crops and failed to develop the variety of skills that occurred in the north.BUT South was more successful.

1690 = 10,000 blacks in colonial America

1750 240,000 blacks in colonial America

1680 V 3000 slaves and 50000 whites

1760 120000 slaves and 180000 whites

More slaves came from direct from Africa - strange customs, traditional hairstyles, filed teeth

Masters began to treat these slaves differently

BUT in 1600's Englishman were more concious of differenced based on rank, lineage and religion than they were of skin colour and facial shapes

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Slave Laws

1664 Maryland

Any white woman that marries an slave would have to serve her husbands master and children would be slaves

1668 -- baptism does not change the status of slaves

1692 slaves accused of capital crimes were barred from trial by Jury

1705 V - house of Burgessespasses slave code/law - effecytivelty all Arican Americans were slaves unless specifically free.

1724 - Slaves guilty of consipacy were to suffer death

Masters permitted extraordinary brutality towards slaves - after all no one woudl deliberately damage their own property

Violence has a purpose = control by intimidation

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Historiography Kulikoff


Propertied whites divided into gentry and yeoman and gentry eventually achieved political and cultural hegemony by middle of 18th c, Gentry were transformed into ruling class

Kept loyalty of by patriarchal family structure inherited from England authority of adult white male over family and slavery.  Solidarity of the white man.

Gentry used its wealth to monopolise political offices for its sons and education.  Opposition was diffused because of extraordinary  economic  growth

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Historiography Morgan

Paradox of freedom versus slavery

King Tobacco diplomacy

Americans bought their independence with slave labour.

Morgan points out it is the poor, the unwashed, the landless labourer who is not thought capable of being part of teh freedom experiment.

Morgan quotes John Locke on wanting to set up poor schools where children spinning and knitting and paid in bread and water so they would grow up inured to work.

People in the lowest positions of society, the dregs of society arrived at that position by their own vice or misconduct was an article of faith for 18th c republicans

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Historiography - Berlin

Society with slaves - slavery not the dominant labour system

Slave society.- slavery is the dominant form of labour and shapes every relationship within the society

!st 2 centuries of slavery = not growing cotton, not in deep south  and not christian

Charter Generation

Plantation Generation

Revolutionary Generation

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Berlin Charter Generation

Charter Generation = people of Atlantic Coast, Creole language (like Portuguese) Employed by European traders and familiar with European culture   Enter American society where there are many indentured servants.

Creoles may be multi-lingual

Samba Bambara - employee of French company then enslaved and shipped to Louisiana and ends up being plantation manager.

Charter generation had some success 1/5 - 1/4 were freed.

Chose own names

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Berlin Plantation Generation

Plantation generation - limited opportunity

Lived on large estates cut off from rest of world

given names by owners, names could be Greek Gods or barnyard animals

Deemed to be clever, manipulative, to smart by half, smart ****

Stereotyped - Ignorant, lazy,dull, stupid, barely human - so transform from charetr gen to plantation gen leads to racism

Revorlutionary Generation

The remaking of black life - American revolution,

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More Berlin

Slavery was a labour system before it was a racial system

Slavey was constantly changing

Need to put slavery into the cultural context of the time

Slavery was national not just southern

Slaves were part of a dynamic living process

Say - enslaved peoples rather than slaves

Slavery needs laws and guns to keep slaves in place

Slavery is not a natural human condition

Many cities had large slave populations

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Charter Generation

n regard to free blacks during that period, Berlin writes: "A considerable portion of these new arrivals — fully one-fifth in New Amsterdam, St. Augustine, and Virginia's eastern shore — eventually gained their freedom. Some attained modest privilege and authority in mainland society."

Of free blacks in the 17th-century Chesapeake region, he explains: "When they found the weak points, they burst the constraints of servitude, race, and impoverishment. The fluidity of colonial society, the ill-defined meaning of slavery, and the ambiguous notions of race allowed Atlantic creoles to carve a place for themselves in the Chesapeake and occasionally achieve a modest prosperity, despite the growing weight of discriminatory legislation."

A fascinating aspect of this history involves the legal circumstances in the Chesapeake:

Like their white neighbors, free people of color were a litigious people. Throughout the 17th century, they sued and were sued with great frequency, testifying and petitioning as to their rights. Though many black men and women fell prey to the snares of Anglo-American jurisprudence — bastardy acts, tax forfeitures, and debt penalties — their failure was rarely one of ignorance, as members of the charter generation proved adept at challenging the law on its own terms and rarely abandoned a losing cause without appeal.

The rise of plantation slavery brought wide-ranging change. Berlin writes: "The touchstones of the charter generations — linguistic fluency, familiarity with the commercial practices of the Atlantic, knowledge of European conventions and institutions, and (occasionally) their partial European ancestry — vanished in the age of the plantation."

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Plantation Geneation

"Plantation Generations," living in a world where "blackness and whiteness took on new meaning," who managed "to forge new communities as 'Africans,' an identity no one had previously considered or even knew existed"

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Revolutionary Generation

Revolutionary Generations," beneficiaries, victims, and participants in both the "revolutionary ideology [and] evangelical upsurge" of the period

the REVOLUTIONARY generation of the late 18th century, slaveholders managed to resist the potential for upheaval of the American and Haitian Revolution and in many cases retrenched their power. In the Upper and Lower South (Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana), black society was marked by a severe division between often urban free and plantation slaves (replacing earlier divisions of African vs. African-Americans), and the sugar and cotton revolution brought about severe transformation in the Mississippi Valley into a slave society. In the Chesapeake and Upper South, the two were much more intermingled, while in New England the Revolutionary generation witnessed gradual emancipation laws that slowly and unevenly freed slave populations by the first decades of the 19th century.

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Breen Race relation 1660 - 1710

The Giddy Multitude, an amalgamation of indentured servants and slaves, poor whites and blacks, landless freedmen and debtors

Not only the Bacon riots but gangs of Olveran Soldiers sparking riots in 1663.  Period of social unrest 1660-1683

1680s and period of trouble due to a closed and Virginia experiences social stability. Why?

Mid 17th c solution to labour problem was white indentured servants  went voluntary- but also others coerced in to going to America.  Possibly it was the coerced who were the major source of labour.  Planters complained of quality of servants and servants disappointed with quality of masters.  Reality failed to meet expectation. When lad was given to freedmen it was often marginal frontier land and many labourers became overseers on plantations. 

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Breen 2

Freedmen were subject to variations in tobacco prices - and easy for small plantrs and wage earners to be driven into poverty.  Commision found that key part of rebel army was those that had recently been servants.

Also blacks included in this giddy multitude.  Blacks in 1660 and 70s prob came from Barbados so had English and could communicate with poor whites.

Black slave status legally obscure.  Poor whites and blacks may have had more in common - evidence from Barbados shows white indentured servants were sometimes treated worse than the blacks, plus whites had had long sea voyage etc

Servants uprisings occurred in the early 60s - Isaac Friend demanding meat 2 or 3 times a week..

12 years before Bacon's rebellion saw discontent but no uprising

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1676 Bacon rebellion 0- Breen

Bacon may have been using popular frustrations for his own private ends.

Captain Grantham charged with capturing a band of rebels describes visiting a mixed band of 400 English and Negroes - possibly argument that Virginians regarded economic status rather than race as the essential social distinction

In 1679 the king had instructed Culpepper to ensure that Planters and all Christian servants are provided with weapons - Culpepper - Masters have arms, Servants not trusted with them

1682 - violence - Tobacco Cutting because of over production.

1683 onwards - seems to have been satrt of quiter time - authorities expected unrest but basically poor whites were planting tobacco, setlling frontier lands and raising families.  Why - increase in price of tobacco

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Breen - More Negroes

English companies began to ship slaves directly from Africa to the Colonies.  This new source of labour much more economic

Laws in England cracked down on indentured servitude - indentures had to be signed before a magistrate and under 14s needed parental permission

Number of white servants dwindled and those that did come had a specail skill - carpenters or bricklayers.  Not so much the scum

Virginians were claiming Indian lands with impunity.  Virginia was the 'Best poor mans Country in the world' Robert Beverly - Planter Historian 1705.

Landless freed men could also move to Carolina or Pennsylvania - lands inaccessible  pre 1680

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Breen More Negroes 2

4000 slaves time of tobacco cutting riots of 1682 and poss 20000 by 1700.

Slaves directly from Africa - impossible for poor whites to have any empathy with them.  Language barrier

Blacks could not have overrun the colony as they were outnumbered and military strong.  BUT

Virginians exchanged white servants for slaves and exchanged the fear of the giddy multitude for fear of slave rebellion

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Winthrop Jordan

English did posesses a concept of slavery

Enslavement was captivity, the loser's lot in a contest of power, slaves were infidels or heathens.

English had a concept of liberty and as Jordan says English prejudices as well as English law were in favour of liberty.

When they came to settle in America, Englishmen found that things happened to liberty, some favourable some not.

One of those things was Negroes became enslaved to English for economic reasons and copying the Spanish and Portuguese. 

New England Puritans accepted slavery - but did extend the same protection against maltreatment to Negroes, Indians and Whites

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Winthrop Jordan

In V and M slavery follows a different course mainly because of staple crops and need for labour

Legal enactment of slavery follows social practice

By the 1700s when slave cargoes came in large numbers racial slavery and the necessary police powers had been written into law.

Indians not enslaved because aim was to civilise  - even if civilisation took the form of eradication  Indians were different from Negroes in that they were seen fight back

Labour needed.  In theory planters could have enslaved indentured servants but did not think they had the right.

Negroes were not christian - barbaric heathens - but gradually differences centred on colour

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Winthrop Jordan Cycle of degredation




gestrures/eatimng habits

All combined to allow English to see black as savage.  By end of 17th chattel racial slavery

Morgan says winthrop says Slavery came to Virginia as an unthinking decision

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Morgan Slavery and Freedom

The American Paradox

Freedom built on slavery

The rise of libertyy and equality was accompanied by the rise in slavery

Americans bought their independence with slave labour

Washington and Jefferson were slaveholders

Jefferson and republicans = distrust of the landless labourer  - contempt for the masses who did not have the propertied independence required of proper republicans

Fletcher a contemporary of Jefferson proposed that the estimated 200,000 idle scots be made slaves to men of property

Stories of Drake banding up with blacks against the spanish

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Morgan 2

Freed blacks did sue - in otherwords they took part in civil life

Morgan estimates Virginia remaisn a death trap until 1640

Indentured servants frequently men alone

Slaves with women

Servants punishment was extension of servitude

Morgan says slavery came as Virginians bought the cheapest labour they could get.

Copy Barbadian slave codes

Laws exonerated master who accidentally beat his slave to death but places new limitations on the punishment of white Christian servants

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Morgan 3

In Berkeley's time the elites feared rebellion and feared republicanism but within 100 years Virginia was as ready as New Englanders to recite the aphorisms of the commonwealth

It was slavery that allowed this state of affairs to be achieved  - because rights of freedmen were important and magniofied

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