How did Slavery Develop in the American Colonies?

How did Slavery Develop in the American Colonies? A uniquely American social feature Making sense of slavery: Comparing: Development in: The Chesapeake The North The low country Why all the detail?

Not monolithic . . . A human relationship that changes over time -Yet, by 1700 all British American colonies rely on slavery Making sense of slavery: Societies with slaves Slavery one form of labor among many Thus: Holdings smaller Status more fluid Not any less brutal

Slave societies slavery is central mode of production master-slave relationship is model for all human relationships How does the transition to a slave society happen? Creating Societies with Slaves: The North First slaves in North: were Atlantic creoles An economically marginal region Creating a Slave Society: New Netherlands as

a case study agricultural workers, who are brought here at great expense, sooner or later apply themselves to trade, and neglect agriculture altogether. Slaves filled the gap by 1638, 30% of New Amsterdams population. Slavery in New Netherlands

Social implications of demand for labor: Negotiate right to live and work on their own Create assimilated community The rest of the North: Overwhelmingly rural life Especially Hudson River Valley, New Jersey and PA Social circumstances:

Live and work alongside whites Work at wide range of tasks Disproportionately urban Impact on Black culture assimilation (and negotiation potential), yet alienation Societies with Slaves: The Lowcountry First settlers include former Barbadians who hope to transplant sugar plantations and slavery

Foiled by Amerindian neighbors relations not stable; perpetual warfare Creates a frontier economy Societies with Slaves: The Lowcountry Implications for enslaved people? Most are Atlantic creoles, with a lot of knowledge about slavery and Europeans Lots of room for negotiation: Economy means work independence Can end up with time for their own use: develop own

economies External military threats are armed, and potentially can earn freedom Frontier presents an opportunity to escape Maroon communities Conclusions about 17th Century American Societies with Slaves: slaves a small part of population harder to create an African-based culture economy dependent upon slaves creates opportunities for autonomy

slavery just one form of non-freedom among many types Creating Slave Societies The transition in the Chesapeake: Shift from indentured servant labor to slaves after Bacons Rebellion, 1676: Causes: Supply issues cheaper slaves; fewer indentured servants after 1680s Social issues fear of social disorder based on class antagonism

Shift to slavery in the Chesapeake Consequences for African-American life: Slavery Africanized To whites, seem beyond the pale of civilization Sharp deterioration in quality of life Skewed sex ratios from importation of more males Shifts in work conditions: patriarchal masters seek social control; create gang labor Slaves treated with new control and cruelty

Brute force used to sustain new economic regime Laws distinguish whites from Blacks, both free and enslaved Creating a Slave Society: The Low-Country Discovering a staple crop: rice Degradation of Black quality of life New demand for slave labor; Africanization of slavery Slaves now dominate population: by 1760, 60% of the population of region Transformation of work

Rice plantation conditions deadly Population cannot reproduce itself until 1760s Creating a Slave Society: The Low Country Changes in 18th century Whites leave plantations: patriarchy-at-a-distance New work system evolves: task labor Self-policing of work translates into autonomy

Becomes a recognized right: restrictions and the Stono rebellion, 1739 Relative cultural isolation, and freedom What about the North? Growing significance of slavery after 1700: In shipping ports; commercial grain plantations in NY, NJ and PA

Growing imports of slaves from Africa directly Skewed sex ratios; family life deteriorates Restrictions on manumission; repression and anxiety 1741 slave conspiracy hysteria Conclusions: Why the transformation? 1. Key is shift to staple crop production

2. Drives demand for importations of slave laborers, and Africanization of slavery 3. Slaveholders solidify legal degradation and control (Feel control of human property essential to political voice by 1787, 3/5 Compromise ensures extra representation for slaveowning whites) Yet, process pretty different depending on local circumstances: No one African-American culture . . .

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