“Slavery on British West Indies Plantations in the Eighteenth Century”, by Pitman, Frank Wesley, Journal of Negro History, Volume Number: 11 Issue Number: 4, October, 1926 Pages: p. 584-668
Transcribed by Terri England, 2002.
A century ago Gibbon Wakefield, reflecting on the relationship between land and labor, was one of the earliest writers to comprehend the economic basis of modern slavery and to regard it as a natural incident in the colonization of the new world. 1 Where land of rich agricultural potentiality was practically given away in large grants, it was inevitable that, as soon as the profitableness of exploiting it was recognized, a demand for labor would arise which could be satisfied only by some system of compulsory labor. Anglo-Saxon immigrants in the new world found easy access to cheap land and scattered widely, mainly in the temperate zone; nowhere, prior to the nineteenth century when cheap land became scarce, did a proletariat develop that might be drawn upon for wage earners either in industry or capitalistic agriculture. It was the worthy ambition of European peasants and craftsmen alike, in migrating to the colonies, to become themselves independent land holders or master craftsmen instead of apprentices. Such forces inevitably made labor scarce. Add to this the effects which we have observed of a West India climate on white Europeans and it becomes clear why the West Indies in particular found practically no supply of free labor and resorted to slavery as the only solution of the labor problem.
The character of sugar culture, moreover, was favorable to the employment of slave labor. The operations of clearing land, holing, planting, weeding, and cane cutting were tasks easily learned by Negroes. Also the slaves could be worked in gangs numerous enough to afford the supervision of a white or experienced Negro driver to prevent slacking. Slavery did not lend itself to a diversification of agriculture. It was more profitable to confine the Negroes to more or less routine tasks year in and year out. Such specialization was sustained by a generally increasing demand for sugar , and the availability of foods, live stock, lumber, clothing , tools, and supplies from outside markets. Experience proved it was cheaper to purchase all such commodities from abroad than to attempt their local production with slave labor. The West Indies and New England, even more than the West Indies and old England, were in a high degree mutually dependent. The economic life of the northern colonies in a very real sense rested on slavery in the sugar islands. In like manner, the triangular trade between England, Africa, and the Antilles and that between New England, Africa, and the West Indies was based on the institution of West India slavery. 2
The production of sugar , moreover, was an industry which was incompatible with precarious or unsettled relations between master and servants. Continuous and dependable employees were indispensable. Canes must be harvested at a certain time, and cane juice ferments within twenty minutes of the time it is pressed from the canes. Under such circumstances particularly in the years following emancipation, freed Negroes were in a position to take cruel advantage of their employers. Even with slavery, the master or overseer was obliged to humor his Negroes while the sugar boiling season lasted. Experienced boilers were in great demand. They also could make or mar the product; a revengeful slave in such a position by throwing a few tablespoonfuls of lemonjuice into the clarifier or “grand copper” could ruin the crystallization of the sugar . Hence the importation of coolie labor in the period following emancipation. 3 Such considerations probably justify the statement of John Stuart Mill that “It is likely that productive operations which require much combination of labour, the production of sugar for example, would not have taken place so soon in the American colonies, if slavery had not existed to keep masses of labour together.” 4
That slave labor was inefficient as compared with that of white men was admitted in both the English and French islands. Edwards estimated that a West India Negro performed only one third the work of an Englishman in England. Peytraud, in his study of slavery in the French Antilles, reached a similar conclusion. 5But the value of such comparisons is diminished by the fact that what the slave did under tropical conditions is generally compared with what the white man did in a temperate climate ; there was practically no data for a comparison under similar conditions; where there was, as cited in the military correspondence, white men to an alarming degree perished. Assuming, nevertheless, the inferiority of slave labor, the profits of large scale sugar culture could easily sustain the expense of slavery, that from tobacco less so, while the cultivation of cereals could not at all bear the expense of slave labor. 6 The costliness of slave labor inhered, of course, in such tendencies as stupidity, slacking, illness, real and feigned, thieving, lack of interest, and occasionally, malicious sabotage and running away. That slavery was a cheap form of labor is, of course, wholly discredited by the facts. But sugar culture not only afforded it, but, for a time at least, went into decadence with its abolition.
Politically, slavery was regarded until late in the eighteenth century as highly expedient to the mother country. “Negro labour,” wrote Postlethwayt, “will keep them [the plantations] in due subserviency to the Interest of their Mother Country; for while our Plantations depend only on Planting by Negroes * .. our Colonies can never become independent of these Kingdoms.” 7 That this advantage was demonstrated is
indicated in the jubilant report by Governor Pinfold in 1766 of Barbadoes’ ready compliance with the Stamp Act. 8
Among the varieties of slaves used by the planters, Indians appear to have been the earliest. Barbadoes in 1647 to 1650 had Indian slaves imported from the mainland and other islands. The women were used as house servants and the men as hunters; they seem not to have been used as field hands. 9 A century later Governor Robinson reported that Barbadoes had no Indian slaves, but that the French still had many. 10 In the seventeenth century many Carolina Indians were captured by tribes of the interior who sold them to fur traders who drove them to the coast and sold them to merchants who shipped them from Charleston to the sugar islands. 11 The Mosquito Coast of Central America, however, was the region most frequented by English traders in quest of Indian slaves. They sold the natives goods at very high prices and long credit. The mode of payment set on foot by British settlers was for the natives to hunt the other surrounding tribes of Indians, seize them by strategy or force and deliver them to the English traders as slaves at certain prices in discharge of their debts. The English conveyed them to the British and French sugar settlements, where they were sold. Even the British superintendent of the Mosquito shore, who was supposed to protect the Indians, was himself deeply concerned in the shameful traffic. The protests from the distracted Indians, particularly that of a native king, finally produced some discussion in the House of Commons 12 and in the legislature of Jamaica; the traffic seems to have been frowned on by public opinion and practically suppressed by the middle of the eighteenth century. The traffic in slaves was evidently damaging legitimate commerce with the mainland, for in 1741 Jamaica passed an interesting “Act for Recovering and Extending the Trade with the Indian Settlements in America and preventing for the future some evil practices formerly committed in that Trade. 13 The act recites that it had been the “Evil practices of Several Traders of this Island who have frequently taken Indians from their Settlements Clandestinely and Sold them in this Island for Slaves.” This practice had alienated the friendship of the Indian settlements and had damaged their commerce with Jamaica. It was, accordingly, enacted that after June 1, 1741, every Indian that arrived or was imported for sale in Jamaica should be free like any other foreign stranger arriving. No sales or purchases of Indians were thereafter legal. But persons already possessed of Indian slaves were impowered to sell or dispose of them as before this act. The act attempted only to suppress the slave trade in Indians; those already in Jamaica as slaves remained in legal bondage. Edwards, writing toward the end of the century, was familiar with Indian slaves but said they were few, and unfit for hard toil on the plantations. 14 The slave trade from the mainland to the sugar islands bore a strong likeness in miniature to the African slave trade. But Indian slavery was never in any degree an adequate solution of the labor problem.
The African slaves in greatest demand came from the Gold Coast. There the warlike Ashanti Negroes in the eighteenth century conquered neighboring tribes; thousands of prisoners of war were sold by that tribe to native traders at the great slave market at Mansu. Gold Coast Negroes were Coromantines, or Koromantyns, or Koromantees. They were distinguished above all other slaves by their superior physique, courage, firmness, and impatience of control. Mutinies in the “crossing” and rebellions in the West Indies, particularly in Jamaica, were often started by Coromantines. So menacing were they at one period in Jamaica that the legislature considered laying an extra duty on the importation of “Fantin, Akin, and Ashanti Negroes, and all others commonly called Koromantees.” But in view of that great superiority, the bill was successfully opposed. 15 Bryan Edward’s commentary on the Coromantines is a significant tribute to them: “Even the children brought from the Gold Coast manifest an evident superiority, both in hardiness of frame and vigour of mind, over all the young people of the same age that are imported from other parts of Africa. The like firmness and intrepidity which are distinguishable in adults of this nation, are visible in their boys at an age which might be thought too tender to receive any lasting impression, either from precept or example. I have been myself an eyewitness to the truth of this remark, in the circumstance I am able to relate. A gentleman of my acquaintance who at the same time had purchased ten Koromantyn and the like number of Ibos [Eboes] (the eldest of the whole apparently not more than thirteen years of age) caused them all to be collected and brought before him in my presence, to be marked on the breast. This operation is performed by heating a small silver brand, composed of one or two letters, in the flame of spirits of wine [alcohol], and applying it to the skin, which is previously anointed with sweet oil. The application is instantaneous, and the pain momentary. Nevertheless it may easily be supposed that the apparatus must have a frightful appearance to a child. Accordingly, when the first boy, who happened to be one of the Ibos, and the stoutest of the whole, was led forward to receive the mark, he screamed dreadfully, while his companions of the same nation manifested strong symptoms of sympathetic terror. The gentleman stopped his hand; but the Koromantyn boys, laughing aloud, and immediately coming forward of their own accord, offered their bosoms undauntedly to the brand, and receiving its impression without flinching in the least, snapped their fingers in exaltation over the poor Ibos. 16 Snelgrave, who made voyages to the Gold Coast in 1721 and 1722, said Coromantines were the most dangerous slaves to handle. He describes two mutinies aboard slavers, one at Anamabo, which were planned and executed by Coromantines; the rebels were desperados who despised punishment and even death. Some of them, when asked why they mutinied, declared he was a great scoundrel to have bought them to take away from their native land, and that they were determined to obtain their liberty if they could. Suicides both on the Coast and in Jamaica were not uncommon among Coromantines to escape slavery. 17
Papaws were regarded as perhaps the next best slaves for planters. 18 The Royal African Company’s agent in Barbadoes on one occasion even reports Papaws as more valuable than Gold Coast slaves, selling at about 3 Pounds Sterling higher. 19 Eboes, and slaves from Sierra Leone 20 and Gambia were among the worst for the planters. The latter were said to be fit only for house-work and tending cattle; they were so well fed in their native country that they could not rough it like other Negroes. 21 Slaves from the Bight of Guinea and Angola were also regarded as inferior and were hard to sell. 22 As the time went on distinctions of breeding became well marked among slaves. The Creole slaves, that is those born in the West Indies, were the aristocrats of the Negro world. The Creole slaves on Monk Lewis’s Jamaican estate hated the Eboes and on one occasion the proprietor overheard a cook declare “that massa ought to sell all the Eboes and buy Creoles instead.” 23
A statistical study of the importation of slaves into the West Indies and of the Negro population of the various islands has been given in an earlier volume; 24 little will be added here except the results of an analysis of statistics of Negro importations and population in Jamaica for the latter part of the eighteenth century taken from official lists in Jamaica by Edward Long. 25 From 1750 to 1775, inclusive, 851 shiploads with 198,434 slaves were imported into Jamaica, of whom 28,292 were reexported; the annual average delivery in Jamaica during the twenty-six years was 6,544; the average cargo of a ship was 233, including the slaves reexported. Annual average importations of slaves for certain periods of the eighteenth century were as follows:
22 Sept. 1702 to 1 Jan. 1740 3,951 slaves per year
1 Jan. 1740 to 1 Jan. 1760 5,377 slaves per year
1 Jan. 1760 to 1 Jan. 1760 6,270 slaves per year
1 Jan. 1760 to 1 Jan. 1770 6,111 slaves per year
1 Jan. 1770 to 1 Jan. 1774 5,682 slaves per year
The peak of the slave trade to Jamaica, according to these figures, was reached in the decade 1750-1760. The total importation from January 1, 1703, to January 1, 1776, was 496,893 slaves, of whom there were reexported during the same period 136,787, leaving for settlement in Jamaica 360,106. Of these Long estimated that two thirds were males or 3,288 per annum, and one third females or 1,644 a year. The shrinkage in the slave population, from 1702 to 1774, by violence, climate , desertion, manumission, and various casualties Long estimated at 40,000.
A brief analysis of the estimated population of Jamaica is given as follows in a memorandum endorsed by Mr.Braithwaite, Jamaica, December 11, 1787: 26
Slaves on about 110 sugar estates (@ 119) 131,000
Slaves on coffee, cotton, piemento, indigo , ginger, provisions, etc 88,000
Slaves as domestics, fishermen, shipwrights, whafingers, sailor 18,000
Total about 237,000
Whites able to bear arms exclusive of soldiers and marines 10,700
Free blacks and colored people able to bear arms 3,800
Total white population-men, women, and children. 23,800
Total free blacks and colored population 9,000
The ratio of slaves to all the whites was ten to one, the ratio of slaves to whites able to bear arms was twenty-two to one. The free Negroes and mulattoes seem numerous enough to have been a serious menace to the docility of the slaves, yet there appears to have been no sentiment for their colonization outside the sugar islands. Nevertheless, social order and security in Jamaica and the other islands of which it was more or less typical seemed to have rested on very precarious foundations.
The Negroes who landed in the sugar islands were not without familiarity with agricultural operations of a rude nature. Thus, for centuries around Accra the forest had been fought back by agricultural enterprise. Like all West African agriculture, it was a spade husbandry and was devoted to the cultivation of vegetables for human consumption alone. In the interior of Sierra Leone and throughout the Western Soudan cattle raising was an old established industry as is shown by the export of hides mentioned by seventeenth century writers. 27 The native African methods of migratory agriculture by cutlass, fire, and spade or hoe correspond to that adopted by the emancipated slaves in Jamaica. 28 The sugar cane itself was not unknown on the African coast. Hugh Dalrymple was in Goree in 1779 and stated that sugar cane grew there without cultivation. The natives chewed the canes which appeared to constitute a considerable part of their food at certain seasons, but Dalrymple did not know that they ever cultivated it and was certain that they had no knowledge of refining sugar . 29 William Devaynes, a governor for the African Company on the Whydah Coast before 1763, stated that “they have no knowledge of the methods of preparing Cotton , Tobacco , Sugar , Indigo ” or other West India staples. 30 Thomas Poplett who also had served in Africa said: “I have seen Cane Slips brought from St. Jago, planted on the Gambia, and grow very luxuriantly; but the people are ignorant of the Art of making Sugar . 31 The conclusion seems to be that the imported Africans were already competent to cultivate their own kitchen gardens , raise chickens and pigs, and tend live stock. In the breeding and herding of cattle certain tribes exhibited extraordinary skill. But in the cultivation of the great West India staples they were wholly ignorant. “New Negroes,” said Stephen Fuller, a Jamaican proprietor, “must necessarily be of inferior value, because they enter into a new Climate , and perhaps change of Diet ; are unfit for immediate labour; unacquainted with Tools, or Implements of work, or the manner of performing it; have everything to learn and . . . earn nothing.” 32 We turn now to the problem of training and organizing this raw human material.
The Organization Of Slave Labor
The utility of a body of slaves on a sugar plantation, inefficient and wasteful as they were in comparison with white men, rested essentially upon their organization into leaders and gangs. Such an organization was based on more than a hundred years of practical experience and assumed in the eighteenth century a rather definite technique which is set forth at length in the various Planters’ Guides and descriptive books of travel. Sir William Young, the proprietor of several great estates in Antigua and St. Vincent, described the usual method of breaking in new slaves from Guinea. He purchased on one occasion twenty boys and girls, from ten to thirteen years of age. It was the practice to distribute new Negroes among the huts of Creole slaves, under whose direction they were cared for and fed, trained to work, and taught the new language. For such instruction and care the Creole received no allowance except a knife, calabash to eat from, and an iron boiling pot; for the care of such apprentices was not considered a burden. On the contrary, “When the new Negroes arrived on the estate,” said Young, “I thought the manager would have been torn to pieces by the number and earnestness of the applicants to have an inmate from among them. The competition was violent and troublesome in the extreme.” The fact was that each adult slave had a garden of his own to work at his leisure and the young apprentices, working in these gardens , produced much more food and salable produce for their Creole masters than it cost to maintain them. Hence the eagerness of Creoles, even with large families of their own, to take in novices on condition of feeding them and benefiting by their labor. As soon as a young Negro had finished his apprenticeship and was fit to work in the field he was given a hut and garden of his own. 33
The hours of labor were long but the tension of industry was probably much less severe than at the present time. The routine varied little or none from year to year, and Hans Sloane’s description of 1707 was practically valid for his century: “They are raised to work as soon as the day is light, or sometimes two hours before by the sound of a Conche-Shell, and their Overseers noise, or in better Plantations by a Bell. They are suffered to go to dinner at Twelve when they bring Wood, & c. one burden lest they should come idle out of the Field home, return to the Field at One, and come home at night. … They have Saturdays in the Afternoon and Sundays, with Christmas Holidays, Easter call’d little or Pegganinny, Christmas, and some other great Feasts allow’d them for the Culture of their own Plantations to feed themselves from Potatos, Yams, and Plantanes, & c. which they Plant in Ground allow’d them by their Masters, besides a small Plantain-Walk they have by themselves.” 34 Six in the morning was the usual time to start work, breakfast between nine and ten occupied half an hour, the noonday rest lasted from one to two hours, work ceased at sunset, and at night the Negroes were free to themselves. The hardest labor came in crop time. Even so, according to William Beckford, the hardship of a slave was much lighter than that of a European laborer or more especially a Russian serf. 35 Morning and night in the tropics come with what seems to a northerner a pronounced suddenness: “All nature seems to wake at the same moment. About six o’clock the darkness disperses, the sun rises, and instantly everything is in motion: the negroes are going to the field, the cattle are driving to pasture, the pigs and the poultry are pouring out from their hutches, the old women are preparing food on the lawn for the pickanninnies, . . . whom they keep feeding at all hours of the day; and all seem to be going to their employments. 36
The most important personage among the slaves was the head driver. He carried the emblem of his rank in the form of a polished staff or wand with prongs on it to lean on and also a short handled whip. He had authority from the overseer to direct all the slaves, each gang, and every Negro mechanic in the work he wished performed. 37 It was unwise to elevate new Negroes to the position of head driver. They were inclined to be fond of power and to exercise it cruelly. A Creole slave made the best driver. 38 He always had charge of the “great gang” which was composed of the most powerful field Negroes on whom the burden of field work and the manufacture of sugar and rum rested. So great was his responsibility and so many the occasions for his vigilance, skill, steadiness, and reliability that his selection merited the utmost care. A bad or indifferent head driver could set almost everything at odds and injure Negroes and cultivation –he could be like a cruel blast. But when well disposed, intelligent, and active, he was the life and soul of the estate. Often he was a middle aged or elderly Negro who had been long so employed. The ideal driver should be an athletic type of a sound and hardy constitution, sober, reliable, and of good character, old enough to command respect–say thirty-five, clean in person and apparel, preferably a Creole or native of the island, experienced in field work, and able to enlist the good will of the Negroes to get results. He should be preeminently civil, patient, and mild in his methods of punishment. Hie should be respectful to white people, and be able to discipline Negroes who made nuisances of themselves by conversation or puerile conduct. Junior drivers were assistants to the head driver and should possess in some degrees his characteristics.
The head cattle and mule man was responsible for the live stock, for transporting the canes from the fields to the mill, and for carting the crop to the warehouses and wharves. He kept the steers and mules in good order and selected the animals best fitted for field, tread mill, and road work. He regulated the system of relays and periods of rest. He was expected to understand all about animal foods, diseases and wounds. It was bad practice to draft this man for other work and so neglect the stock. Both superintendent and waggoners were likely to steal supplies, sugar , and rum en route. Thousands of cattle and mules, it was said, were lost annually through the dishonesty or carelessness of these men.
The head boiler’s position was of equal importance to that of any other slave official. He was supposed to know how the cane had been raised and treated, the kind of soil in which it grew, whether that soil had been richly or slightly manured, the age of the cane, its species, whether it had been topped short or long in the cutting, and whether it had been arrowed, bored, or rat-eaten. Knowledge of all these things was necessary in order to determine how much lime temper the cane juice needed and the period of boiling. Enormous losses of sugar were caused by dishonest, malicious, or ignorant boilers. 39
Master mechanics were also recruited by the proprietor or overseer from among the slaves. They included carpenters, coopers, masons, coppersmiths and other artizans. 40 They might each have one or more apprentices according to their needs. In the days before the abolition of the slave trade, clever Negroes were encouraged to learn such trades and even practice them off the estate, and pay the master a weekly sum. But with the abolition of the slave trade, field hands became scarce and Negroes were discouraged from going into trades. 41 In the older islands, such as Barbadoes, where Negroes were more numerous, it was early regarded as socially dangerous for masters to let so many of their slaves roam at large as tradesmen, or peddlers, for which the masters received daily, weekly, or monthly sums. The practice was prohibited in Barbadoes in 1708, 42 but apparently continued. Male mulattoes were seldom or never employed as field hands but were taught trades; female mulattoes were brought up as domestics about the house. 43
Domestic servants, cooks, and nurses included the more efficient and good looking women among the slaves; mulatto women and mistresses were included in this class. Travellers mention them as attired in a minimum amount of clothes and going barefooted. Such servants did the house work, kept it clean, tended to the linen, cooked, served, and sewed, making clothes for such slaves as had no “wives” or could not sew. A woman governess was put over these domestics. Even such servants had their little vegetable gardens , chickens, and pigs, but at some distance from the dwelling. Negro midwives, though ignorant and unskilled, were commonly employed for the slaves, white doctors being seldom in attendance. Occasionally, a white doctor was paid a yearly salary by each estate where he agreed to attend the sick. More often, overseers or bookkeepers effected cures without calling a white physician. Slaves were prone to pretend sickness in order to get into the “hothouse” or hospital to avoid work. 44 Negro women served as nurses both in homes and hospitals. The Barbadoes hospital, in 1762, was crowded with sick soldiers who were attended by Negro nurses. “But being a sleepy indolent sort of people,” frequently neglected their charges, and always slept soundly when placed on night duty. 45 The charge is probably a bit too severe for application to all colored nurses.
The great gang, recruited from all the other gangs, was the strength and backbone of the man-power of the plantation. It was under the head driver. Composed of the ablest men and women, it sometimes numbered as many as a hundred. It performed all the heavy field operations, such as building lime-kilns, digging cane holes, making roads and stone walls on the estate, planting canes and provisions, trashing heavy canes, cutting and tying canes and tops in crop time, cutting copperwood, feeding the mill, carrying green trash or pressed canes from the mill to the trash house, and repairing public roads when officially required. They were provided with such tools as hoes, axes, knives, and bills for cane cutting. These were supposed to be kept in serviceable order. The Negroes worked in one or more parallel lines or rows. The head driver, his assistant, and perhaps a “bookkeeper” visited each row and saw that the work was well done. An animating folk song, started by one of the Negroes, was sung by the gang, and was encouraged as a stimulus to labor and a relief to its monotony. Such a song, sometimes composed by the African, was sung as a solo, the gang joining in the chorus. It was unwise to inflict punishments, unless absolutely necessary, and then with mercy. In bad weather, a glass of good rum was given to each slave, and when building lime-kilns, roads, or digging cane holes a mixture of sugar and rum was given each Negro. The cook was supposed to be regular with their breakfast about nine in the morning. They were also supposed to be constantly served with salt provisions, for a gang that was well fed and contented would work accordingly. Except in crop time it was harmful to work them either before daylight or after dark, though this was sometimes done, for Negroes easily became chilled, took cold, or contracted fevers and pleurisy. Time lost in the hospital more than counteracted the results of such overtime. In hot sunshine, the field Negroes were animated, cheerful, and performed a creditable amount of work. During heavy rains, the sound of a bell or conch-shell suspended all labor by the great gang. 46
The second gang was composed of the physically weaker slaves: mothers of suckling children, youths drafted from the children’s gang, from twelve to eighteen years of age, and elderly Negroes who were yet strong enough for field work. They were followed and directed by a competent driver. Their field tasks were somewhat easier than those of the great gang: cleaning and banking young canes, turning over trash or ratoon pieces (canes sprouting from old roots), trashing light canes, chopping and heaping manure, planting corn , cleaning grass pieces, carrying dry trash to the stoke holes in crop time, and other tasks requiring no great strength.
The mothers of suckling children were supposed to be provided with nurses to care for the infants while their mothers toiled in the fields, and a hut to resort to in case of bad weather. One mother out of every four in the field, it was recommended, should be allowed to go in turn to suckle her child for a quarter of an hour, so that the infants should not want. Such mothers should never be obliged to work before sunrise or after sunset. As a weekly allowance they should have a pint of flour or meal and a certain amount of sugar for each child. Mothers and infants should be kept clean and free from chegoes, or insects that infected the feet. A yard or two of flannel or check should be given to each infant for a frock and cover, besides their usual allowances for clothing . In all other respects the second gang was treated like the other slaves. 47
The third or weeding gang was composed of the rising generation of Negroes and from it, as occasions occurred,vacancies in the other gangs or departments of service were filled. Its members were, in embryo, the future field hands, drivers, cattle men, mule men, carpenters, coopers, and masons. Wise owners and overseers watched these youths with the spirit of parents, looking to them as the future prop and support of the plantation. It was a pleasing and gratifying sight–a crowd of straight, good looking, healthy, active, cheerful and willing creole boys and girls going to or returning from juvenile field tasks. The health and morale of this group was a good test of wise management. Negro children over five or six years of age, if free from yaws,or scrofula and healthy, were taken from their mothers or nurses and put under the tuition of a “driveress” who had charge of the weeding gang. As in the England of the same period, it was regarded as an unquestionable evil to indulge children of the laboring class in a play-time when they might be mobilized as apprentices in industry. It was the children’s gang, equipped with small hoes, that weeded the cane fields and banked soil and manure around the young canes. At these tasks children proved their dexterity; it was claimed that a field of young plants cleaned and molded by a gang of Negro children generally had a more healthy and even appearance than if tended by adults, because they were lighter and more cautious in going among the plants, fewer breakages occurred and the earth was not trodden down hard. A Negro woman experienced in all manner of field work was chosen to instruct, superintend, and discipline this gang of pupils; she was armed with a menacing switch, more to create dread than to inflict chastisement. It was preferable to have a governess who had been a mother and reared a number of healthy children of her own. Each child was provided with a small light hoe. These little implements were kept wedged and ground by a carpenter or cooper. Each child was also furnished with a small knife and a basket for carrying manure. In planting time, the children attended the great gang with baskets of manure, throwing a little of it in each hole, an exercise that afforded them the chance of learning the method of planting canes. In hot weather, and as an encouragement to good work, they were given a drink made of lime juice, sugar , and water.
The children’s health and welfare, at least in the last generation of slavery, were carefully guarded by wise planters. They were minutely examined for chegoes and cleaned; if itch or scrofula was discovered they were immediately put under the care of the hothouse doctor, physicked, cleansed and rubbed with ointment, and not sent to work until cured. They were also subject to crab-yaws, as were adults, a form of bunions on the soles and sides of the feet, with deeply rooted cores attended sometimes with abscesses that required caustic eradication and were difficult to cure. 48 Their meals generally included a little salt pork or fish and some kind of vegetable such as peas or beans. Overseers were warned not to send children to gather hogsmeat or grass for the hogstye or mule pen, an old practice, for in searching hogsmeat they were likely to go far afield and get bruised, and as for cutting grass, they were unskilled in the use of knives or bills and were likely to get horribly cut. Besides there were usually a few aged Negroes with old mules about the plantation who could gather these things. When children attained the age of twelve, and were healthy, they were fit to be drafted into the second gang, thus progressing from one gang to the other until they were incorporated with the great gang or veteran corps of the estate.
Cattle and mule boys were taken from the great or second gangs. But young African boys from twelve to twenty years or old native Africans were likely to be stupid, clumsy, and cruel in the handling of animals and were, to be avoided for this kind of work. Creole boys were more teachable, kinder to the animals, and learned to yoke and lead oxen and harness and ride mules. They were also taught to treat bruises and properly care for draught animals. Even so, it was a wise precaution, as with most forms of slave labor, in carting canes, wood, or produce, to drive together in regular gangs so that the drivers might be under the supervision of a head mule man. This is another instance of the importance, with slave labor, of always combining the laborers in gangs under supervision. Where such supervised gangs were not feasible, as in northern agriculture, slavery was likely to be wasteful and unprofitable. 49
Watchmen and assistant watchmen were needed on all estates to prevent thieving, the straying of cattle and mules, and the prevention of fire. But to employ their spare time they repaired fences, wove baskets and ropes, cut pegs and other things. Old slaves were suitable for such an occupation. One such watchman patrolled the boundary of the estate, and another guarded the Negro and white provision grounds. The boundary watchman came in and reported to the overseer each day, bringing in rope-bark and other products of his labor. Watchmen also set a good number of rat-traps in the cane and corn fields, and rewards were offered for catching great numbers of these cursed pests that lived ill underground holes. A few other watchmen were scattered over the estate. All were under the superintendence of a head watchman. 50
Superannuated and sickly slaves were sometimes provided with easy tasks such as planting and trimming quick hedges around the cane and grass pieces. 51
Very young children and infants also came under the economic regulations of the plantation. As among most primitive people, Negro mothers, if allowed, would suckle their children for three years, partly to escape work. Many children had to be guarded against dirt-eating which was a common and ruinous practice among Negroes. It was recommended that a child be weaned at twelve months, taken from the mother and put under the care of a matron. At three years they were to be put under another old woman, who kept them from the age of three to five “in a little playful gang about the works” so that in bad weather they could seek shelter under the sheds and stokeholes. Each child was to have a little basket and be made useful in gathering up trash and leaves, and pulling up young weeds, “so as to keep them stirring, and out of the way of harm.” Again one is reminded of the advice of the Anglican clergy of the same period on rearing children of the laboring class in England. Overseers were advised to feed the Negro children soup, boiled vegetables, sugar beverage, and “a taste of good rum to each, as an enlivener.” There were also traditional remedies for yaws, worms, and other juvenile ailments. 52 In the old Negro village on Hyde Hall estate, Jamaica, is a monument erected
“In Memory of Eve
An honest, obedient and
faithful slave, by her affectionate
and grateful master
Henry Shirley 1800.”
Tradition says that Eve was the woman in charge of the children of the slave women who worked during the day, and that she was drowned in a pond at Hyde Hall. 53
Slaves were occasionally requisitioned as laborers in the army for colonial defense or expeditions against enemies. For the attack on Martinique in 1761 the Barbadoes assembly voted six hundred Negroes, who were to take the place of cattle requested by Pitt but which the island was unable to supply. Every planter possessing thirty or more slaves was required to contribute one able-bodied slave, and one more from every hundred he owned exclusive of the first thirty. “Each slave to be provided with a backed bill, a hoe fixed, a basket; and clothed with a good jackett, a pair of Trouzes and a hat or Monmouth cap.” Masters were to deliver them to authorized persons at certain places where they would be valued. From the day they were delivered the master was to receive 1s. 10 1/2d. per slave and to be compensated if the slave returned sick or wounded. “And in case any of the said slaves shall not be returned at all, either by reason of death or be run away, so as not to be found” the owner was to be paid the full value of the slave. A fine of 20 Pounds Sterling was to be inflicted for every slave required but not sent. For this same expedition Antigua supplied three hundred slaves. 54
The renting and hiring of slaves is constantly referred to in the manuscripts of the eighteenth century. In the planting and crop seasons, the hiring of extra help seems to have been very common. The cost of hiring slaves in 1787 is estimated by Edward Long in one of his letters: “It seems to be a pretty universal practice in Jamaica to allow for such a Negroe 1s. 10 1/2d. per week [which] is 3 1/2d. and a fraction per diem (Sundays not being provided for). This is rather a scanty allowance in times of drowth and scarcity, and ,of course in such times, an augmentation must be given. But 5 pence per day is the general rule. This amounts for one Negro for one year (deducting Sundays) to 6. 17. 6. Pounds Sterling. In the So. Side districts 4 bits a week – 2s. 6d. is not uncommonly given which is per diem 5 pence or per annum 6. 10 Pounds Sterling.” No doubt the slave’s food was provided by the planter who hired him. Such compensation just about covered the cost of maintenance of a slave according to Mr. Long’s estimate which is as follows: 55
Food 6.10 Pounds Sterling
Poll tax 0.2
Insurance at 10% 8.0
16 Pounds Sterling.1 Jamaica currency – 11.9 Pounds Sterling.
The value of the slave in this case is 80 Pounds Sterling Jamaica currency. No allowance is made for interest on the invested capital and depreciation. Though common enough, the renting of slaves was probably not a very lucrative form of investment.
The housing and maintenance of the slaves undoubtedly embodied many customs established by the earlier experience of the Spanish and Portuguese. What were regarded as humane and wise living conditions were early embodied in more or less detail in the slave codes of the various islands. These legal requirements concerning the relations of master and servant would compare not unfavorably with similar legislation in England, except for the servile status of the West Indian Negro. Toward the end of the eighteenth century, under the pressure of humanitarianism, the codes were modified somewhat in favor of the slaves. The law, however, reflected only more or less truly the living conditions of the Negroes. It is historically safer to be guided by surviving evidences of how they actually lived than by legal codes of a theoretical standard of living. 56 The Negroes built their own huts, unless they inherited them from predecessors, but were generally supplied by their masters with building materials: posts, timbers, and boards. 57 “The Negro houses,” wrote Monk Lewis during a visit to his estate, “are composed of wattles on the outside, with rafters of sweet-wood, and are well plastered within and white washed; they consist of two chambers, one for cooking and the other for sleeping, and are, in general, well furnished with chairs, tables, & c., and I saw none without a four-post bedstead and plenty of bed-clothes; for when the sun is not above the horizon the Negro always feels very chilly.” 58 One is inclined to think that the furnishings of the huts of the Lewis Negroes must have been somewhat superior to the average slave quarters.
The Negro village on the plantation consisted of a collection of such huts. “I never witnessed, on the stage,” wrote Lewis, “a scene so picturesque as a Negro village. I walked through my own today, and visited the houses of the drivers, and other principal persons. … Each house is surrounded by a separate garden , and the whole village is intersected by lanes, bordered with all kinds of sweet-smelling and flowering plants; . . . these form their kitchen-gardens , and these are all for ornament and luxury, and are filled with a profusion of oranges, shaddocks, cocoa-nuts, and peppers of all descriptions.” 59
The annual consumption of English manufactures for each slave in the mid-eighteenth century was estimated by a Jamaican proprietor at 1 Pound Sterling. 60 Stephen Fuller stated in 1788 that it was the practice in Jamaica to give every year to each man ten to twenty yards of Osnaburg linen, and to each woman seven to fifteen yards; a worsted cap to every Negro, a bonnet or hat to each woman; a woolen jacket or welch blanket to a man, and a petticoat and blanketed the woman. Sometimes “checked” linen was given to the principal Negroes such as boilers, drivers, waggoners and tradesmen. Some planters gave knives, handkerchiefs, scissors, thread, needles, and short tobacco pipes. In addition to these necessities, slaves could sell their surplus provisions and chickens and buy such luxuries as extra clothes for Sundays and holidays, fineries, salt beef, pork, fish, and liquor. Each adult Negro was given a house with a plot of ground and often hogs and poultry. Stephen Fuller believed such slaves were better off than European peasants in general. 61
Provision grounds for the Negroes were usually at some distance from the slave quarters, sometimes up in the hills. Every adult slave, even domestics, were assigned plots where, except for rations of salt fish and pork, they raised the bulk of their food and often a surplus amount which they were allowed to sell. They were given Saturday afternoons and Sundays to cultivate these plots. 62 Travellers observed that in working their own grounds the Negroes exhibited considerably more energy than they did in the servile routine of the estate. The provision grounds furnished them with plantains, bananas, cocoanuts, yams, catalae–a kind of spinach, coccoa-fingers or coccos, a species of yam. Yams, harvested once a year and kept for months, seem to have been the main crop. These vegetables formed the basis of Negro sustenance. The salt rations, of which they were passionately fond, served as a seasoning for a diet that was mainly vegetable. “In my evening’s drive I met the Negroes, returning from the mountains, with baskets of provisions sufficient to last them for a week. By law they are only allowed every other Saturday for the purpose of cultivating their own grounds, which, indeed, is sufficient; but by giving them every alternate Saturday into the bargain, it enables them to perform their task with so much ease as almost converts it into an amusement.” There was probably wisdom in limiting their time on the provision grounds, for they were inclined to return with surplus produce to sell in local markets for luxuries and liquor. 63
The standard of living of the Negro population so far as creature satisfactions go was probably not much below that of the laboring class in England in that age. “I am assured that many of my Negroes,” wrote Lewis, “are very rich (and their property is inviolable), and that they are never without salt provisions, porter, and even wine, to entertain their friends and their visiters from the bay or the mountains. As I passed through their grounds . . . one wanted an additional supply of lime for whitewashing his house; another was building a new house for a superannuated wife (for they have all so much decency as to call their sexual attachments by a conjugal name), and wanted a little assistance toward the finishing it; a third requested a new axe to work with; and several entreated me to negotiate the purchase of some relation or friend belonging to another estate, and with whom they were anxious to be reunited: but all their requests were additional indulgencies; not one complained of ill treatment, hunger, or over-work.” 64 Of physical needs there was, under benevolent proprietors like Lewis, little complaint. But of the sting of slavery in the realm of spiritual wants the Negroes were not insensible, for even here they pleaded for reunion with their friends and kindred. 65
The Treatment Of The British West Indian Slaves In Law And Custom
The legislation of the various colonies relating to slavery seems never to have been codified to any extent into black codes. It lies scattered through the manuscript files of legislation in the colonial office collections in the Record Office; for Barbadoes and Jamaica the more important statutes concerning slaves have been included in the printed collections of laws. A thorough study of such legislation together with court decisions and probate proceedings would probably reveal a slight tendency toward a weakening of the principle of absolute ownership and arbitrary control and the emergence of a conception of limited ownership and control on the part of the master. It is not unlikely that the very gradual process by which servile labor in Europe was transformed into serfdom would also have taken place in America had not political emancipation interrupted a natural tendency toward serfdom of which traces in opinion and practice, if not clearly in law, are discernible. The belief that this process would have covered a longer period in America than it did in Europe is based on considerations of color, the primitive characteristics of Negroes, conditions of tropical agriculture, and the social menace of complete emancipation.
Comparisons were frequently drawn between the English and the French treatment of slaves and it was generally conceded that French planters were more enlightened or at least more humane and achieved a better morale among their Negroes. “The English,” said Edward Long, “consider them as productions which ought neither to be used nor destroyed without necessity. But they never treat them with familiarity, never smile upon them, nor speak to them. The French [are] less haughty, less disdainful, consider the Africans as a species of moral beings; and these unhappy men sensible of the honour of seeing themselves treated like rational creatures, seem to forget that their master is impatient of making his fortune, that he always overworks them, and frequently lets them want subsistence.” 66 Auberteuil, writing at the same period, compared the French slaves with the peasantry in France and said they were better off; under good masters they were efficient laborers. 67 Reverend James Stuart, a South Carolina loyalist who traveled widely in the West Indies in 1778-1779, stated in the official inquiry of 1788 that English slaves were treated worse than the French or Danish. 68 Captain Skerret of the royal army, writing from Jamaica in 1788, lamented the danger of Negro insurrection produced as he believed by the agitation of Wilberforce, but admitted that planters should be compelled to exercise more humanity to the young, the aged, the infirm, and to grant freedom to women who bore as many as six children and also to slaves who aided in suppressing rebellion. “The French,” he added, ” treat their slaves much better than we do. They endeavour to soften their situation, are much kinder to them, and speak to them with mildness, and the Negroes are found to be less stupid among the French. John Bull does not endeavour to conciliate their affections. He sees that they are well fed, but then he sometimes exercises those cruelties at which human nature no less recoils. I do believe it is cruelty that plunges them in that profound stupidity which we always see in a Jamaica Negro. 69 Charles Spooner, on the other hand, speaking at the inquiry in 1788, said that in the Leeward Islands, and especially in Antigua, Methodist and Moravian missionaries had done a work in the management of slaves comparable with that of the French religious orders; he understood that French slaves were not treated as well as English. 70 It may be that in the older English colonies like Antigua, with a larger Creole population, conditions were more humane than in Jamaica.
Adam Smith who was familiar with much of the evidence on which such comparisons rested was inclined to believe that French Negroes were better treated and that in this respect the paternalistic character of French law was more favorable to slaves than the high degree of individual liberty secured to masters under English law. The economist’s statement is highly valuable as an explanation of the comparative status of slaves under free institutions such as existed in British America and under a benevolent absolutism. “In the good management of their slaves,” wrote Smith, “the French planters, I think it is generally allowed are superior to the English. The law so far as it gives some weak protection to the slave against the violence of his master is likely to be better executed in a colony where the government is in a great measure arbitrary, than in one where it is altogether free. In every country where the unfortunate law of slavery is established, the magistrate, when he protects the slave, intermeddles in some measure in the management of the private property of the master; and, in a free country where the master is perhaps either a member of the colony assembly, or an elector of such a member, he dare not do this but with the greatest caution and circumspection. The respect which he is obliged to pay to the master, renders it more difficult for him to protect the slave. But in a country where the government is in a great measure arbitrary, where it is usual for the magistrate to intermeddle even in the management of. the private property of individuals, and to send them perhaps a letter de cachet if they do not manage it according to his liking, it is much easier for him to give some protection to the slave; and common humanity naturally disposes him to do so. The protection of the magistrate renders the slave less contemptible in the eyes of his master, who is thus induced to consider him with more regard, and to treat him with more gentleness. Gentle usage renders the slave not only more faithful, but more intelligent, and therefore, upon a double account, more useful. He approaches more to the condition of a free servant, and may possess some degree of integrity and attachment to his master’s interest, virtues which frequently belong to free servants, but which can never belong to a slave, who is treated as slaves commonly are in countries where the master is perfectly free and secure.” 71 Such a view need not imply that slaves were denied the hope of an improvement in status under English law, but the change was likely to be slow and originate in custom long before it would be reflected in law.
The status of the Negro was early defined in the law of Barbadoes as part of the personal estate of the master, subject to his almost unlimited control and disposition. 72 Slaves were not to go off their plantations without tickets specifying the time for their return, excepting those who served in livery. All persons were to apprehend and whip such slaves as they found without tickets and hold them till the master paid a reward of 25s. 6d. per Negro. No slaves might carry weapons, nor beat drums, nor hold public meetings. If a slave struck a Christian, for the first offence he was to be severely whipped; for the second offence his nose was to be slit and he was to be burned in the face; for the third offence he should suffer such punishment as the governor and council might impose. A Negro committing a capital crime against a white person was to be tried by two justices and three freeholders nearest the place of crime and sentenced to death. Mutinous or rebel slaves were to be tried by court martial.
Legal allowances of clothes were provided for slaves, under penalties of 5 shillings per slave: drawers and caps for men, petticoats and caps for the women. 73 The penalty for runaways was increased in 1692: Negroes who had lived in Barbadoes one year, if absent thirty days, were to be tried as felons and suffer death; the owner to receive their value not exceeding twenty-five pounds per slave out of the public treasury. An act of the same date prohibited the sale of rum or other liquor to a slave under a fine of twenty shillings. 74
The legislation of the eighteenth century, while apparently more severe in restrictions, reflects an increasing latitude of action on the part of Negroes. Thus Jamaica in 1735 prohibited slaves from hawking, peddling, or selling various commodities without tickets from their masters. 75 Montserrat, the following year, carried restrictions into the realm of production: slaves were prohibited from planting any indigo , cotton , ginger, coffee, or cocoa; they were forbidden keeping public markets on Sundays, and they were otherwise restrained from holding “licentious meetings.” All this means, of course, that these practices were increasing at this time. Governor Mathew, in recommending the law, said that Negroes were raising indigo not only to the injury of poor whites but chiefly as a cover to hide their robberies of indigo , pretending that the stolen product was of their own planting. 76
That the practice of owners renting to slaves their liberty to earn their livelihood was increasing is evidenced by Jamaica’s act of 1753: “An Act for the more effectual Preventing the evil Practice of the Owners of Slaves hiring out such Slaves to themselves.” It recites that former acts forbidding this have been ineffectual; owners had been paid by the week, month, or year for such privilege. The practice was prohibited under a ten pound fine for every offence. 77 But the custom continued and was taken as a matter of course in the early nineteenth century. Monk Lewis, for example, was canoed from Kingston to Port Royal by a slave who worked as a waterman and paid his master ten shillings a week, the rest of his earnings being his own profit. Sometimes he paid his owner only once in two or three months and was generally in debt to him at that. 78 Such legislation did not, of course, affect the very general custom of renting slaves, sometimes by “jobbers,” to planters to supplement their own force. 79
The summary character and cruelty of slave trials affected the sensibilities of the humanitarians of the late eighteenth century. Said William Beckford in 1788, “I know not any thing in the West Indies so shocking to humanity, and so disgusting to individuals, as the savage and indecent manner in which the trial of slaves is conducted.” It lacked both dignity and mercy. “Two magistrates and three freeholders, from whose decision there lies not an appeal, can sentence to death. This custom should be abolished–they should be tried by the same laws, the same judges, the same jury as ourselves” and the court endowed with the power of forgiveness. “A Negro is often condemned in one hour, and receives execution in the next.” 80 Trial by jury for slaves was adopted in criminal cases in Jamaica in 1792. Lewis mentions the case, February 20, 1816, of a slave girl in Jamaica who was tried for poisoning her master and condemned to execution within forty-eight hours. The court consisted of a presiding judge, three assisting judges, and nine jurymen, but there were no lawyers on either side. Lewis thought it was a good, fair trial. 81
Manumission was very infrequent in the West Indies, though it occasionally occurred in favor of mulatto mistresses and mulatto children whose education was often provided for. Liberated slaves were likely to suffer all sorts of discriminations even as they did in England after Lord Mansfield’s decision in the Somerset case. 82 Manumission was even discouraged by laws, such as those of Barbadoes and Grenada, which heavily fined a master who freed a slave. 83 Such acts, however, are witnesses to the growth of the practice. Ramsay’s statement that when slaves became incapable of labor they were often turned off plantations under pretence of giving them freedom should probably be accepted only with reservations. 84 Slaves were sometimes entailed by will. Thus Robert Scarlett (1737-1798), proprietor of “Duckett’s Spring” and other estates in St. James parish, Jamaica, by his will very strictly entailed a favorite slave named Oliver. 85 An examination of planters’ wills would probably reveal a considerable increase of manumission and entail in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
There is some indication that a few planters at least were coming to regard their Negroes as having in practice if not in law the status of serfs. James Ramsay in 1784 declared that this view was already in practice in Antigua. “All plantation slaves,” he wrote, “as at present is the custom in Antigua, should be considered as fixed to the freehold, that they may not be sold, or carried away wantonly at pleasure.” 86 Also John Blagrove, who resided at Cardiff Hall, St. Ann’s parish, Jamaica, in the late eighteenth century and died in England in 1824, made this remarkable statement in his will: “And, lastly, to my loving people, denominated and recognized by Law as, and being in fact my slaves in Jamaica, but more estimated and considered by me and my family as tenants for life attached to the soil, I bequeath a dollar for every man, woman, and child, as a small token of my regard for their faithful and affectionate service and willing labours to myself and family, being reciprocally bound in one general tie of master and servant in the prosperity of the land, from which we draw our mutual comforts and subsistence in our several relations (a tie and interest not practised on by the hired labourer of the day in the United Kingdom) the contrary of which doctrine is held only by the visionists of the puritanical order against the common feeling of mankind.” 87
That the planter was entitled to exploit the labor of his slaves without limit, except as indicated by wise economy, seems to have been generally recognized in law. Yet it is interesting to note that another characteristic of serfdom was suggested as applicable to West Indian Negroes before the end of the eighteenth century. That was the principle of limited, fixed services, or the “task system” as it was called. In 1784 Ramsay recommended that only definite tasks each day should be required of slaves and when they had completed their set tasks they should be at liberty to work for themselves and accumulate property and perhaps buy their freedom. 88 It was thus regarded as quite conceivable that the very same process by which English laborers had evolved from practical slavery to serfdom and thence to freedom was equally applicable to Negro slaves. It is indeed not unlikely that, except for political emancipation, such an evolution might have transpired.
Finally the principle of private property as the inviolable possession of slaves had clearly emerged and was becoming fixed in custom if not in law. Indications of this are increasingly numerous in the eighteenth century and have already been mentioned. William Beckford, a Jamaican proprietor, in 1788 wrote: “Most Negroes in Jamaica have either fowls, hogs, or cattle; some have all; and some, although slaves themselves, have likewise slaves of their own.” And such property of a slave was inviolable: “His wife, his house, his stock, his ground should be always sacred. No power should be used to force, no temptation put in practice to seduce the person of the first–his hut should be his castle, and the ground upon which it stands his fee,” ground which had in some cases been delivered from father to son. But Beckford admitted that this principle had been violated with evil consequences. He would recognize even testamentary rights in the slaves: “Let them will the little property their labour or their prudence has amassed.” 89
Daniel McKinnen, who toured the West Indies in 1802-1803, observed the slaves on Sundays and market days and was impressed by the amount of property they possessed:
“The clothes in which they appear, and the property they display on these occasions, would induce one to believe that the rigors of slavery, on many estates, are not a little softened by the liberality and benevolence of the masters; and, indeed, notwithstanding the absolute and unlimited nature of their legitimate authority, a sentiment of honour amongst the planters protects the slave in the enjoyment of the little peculium he may acquire, as effectually as the most sacred laws; while some of the Negroes are perhaps richer than many peasants in the heart of Europe.” 90 Lewis, also, mentioned the accumulation of property by slaves and acknowledged its inviolability. “I am assured,” he said, “that many of my slaves are very rich (and their property is inviolable).” 91 The slaves of Lewis were particularly enterprising in breeding and selling cattle. “Most of the Negroes who are tolerably industrious,” he wrote, “‘breed cattle on my estate, which are their own peculiar property, and by the sale of which they obtain considerable sums. The pasturage of a steer would amount in this country to 12 Pounds Sterling a year; but the Negro cattle get their grass from me without it costing them a farthing; and as they were very desirous that I should be their general purchaser, I ordered them to agree among themselves as to what the price should be.” They asked 15 Pounds Sterling a head for every three-year-old animal. Lewis bought cattle from some of his slaves at this rate. 92 Such evidence, therefore, seems to warrant the conjecture that some West Indian Negroes at the beginning of the nineteenth century were already in the slow process of transition from slavery to serfdom.
Such encouraging tendencies in the evolution of slavery were, however, concealed from most contemporary observers by the notoriety of many overseers for cruelty and arbitrary treatment of their slaves. The frequency of Negro insurrections, particularly in Jamaica, is a commentary on the cruel and at times unendurable hardships imposed on them by
stupid and brutal managers. The first serious revolt occurred in 1669 on the estate of Colonel Thomas Sutton at Vere in St. Dorothy’s parish, Jamaica. 93 Further serious rebellions occupied the years 1690; practically every year of the decade 1730 to 1740 during the long Maroon War, 1760 at Heywood Hall in St. Mary’s parish which witnessed a struggle between Coromantines and whites, 1795 and 1796 when the Maroons were expelled from Trelawny Town and transported in 1800 via Nova Scotia to Sierra Leone, and finally 1831 and 1832 when one of the worst slave insurrections of Jamaica history occurred. In one night sixteen fires were started, martial law was declared, and the rebellion was suppressed by Sir Willoughby Cotton only after much loss of life. 94
The treatment of slaves, against which these rebellions were largely the reaction, was the subject of prolonged and perhaps exaggerated narration by travellers, historians, and correspondents throughout the eighteenth century. But they indicate with no uncertainty the sanctions of slavery in hideous threats and exhibitions of brute force. Hans Sloane who visited Jamaica at the opening of the century enumerated the punishments for various offences: for rebellion–burning; for “lesser crimes” –cutting off half the foot; for running away–confinement in irons or a spur in the mouth; for negligence–whipping with lancewood switches till bloody while the Negroes hung by their hands in the mill house. But the scars of such punishments remained and detracted from the slave’s value. Some slaves were whipped till raw, when pepper and salt was rubbed into their skip, or melted wax was poured on them. Such “exquisite torments” Sloane believed were merited and were milder than those inflicted on slaves in the East Indies. 95 Oldmixon, writing in 1708, said the need for severe punishment was diminishing with the increase of a Creole population of Negroes especially in the older islands like Barbadoes; he attributed earlier conspiracies to the severity of the planters with new slaves but now
Creoles “do not need such a strict Hand to be held over them as their Ancestors did, though their numbers and their condition make them still dangerous.” 96 Leslie in 1740 recited the atrocities recorded by Sloane in a narrative that suggests its derivation from the former source. “I incline to touch the Hardships, which those poor Creatures suffer, in the tenderest Manner, from a particular Regard which I owe to many of their Masters, but I can’t conceal their said Circumstances entirely: The most trivial Escape is punished with a terrible Whipping. I have seen some of them treated in that cruel Manner, for no other Reason, but to satisfy the brutish Pleasure of an Overseer, who has their Punishment at his Direction. I have seen their Bodies all in a Gore of Blood, the Skin tore off their Backs with the cruel Whip, beat Pepper and Salt rubbed in the Wounds, and a large Stick of Sealing Wax dropped leisurely upon them. It is no Wonder, if the horrid Pain of such Inhuman Tortures, incline them to rebel; at the same time it must be confessed, they are generally very perverse.” 97 He repeated the assertion that Negro rebels were sometimes burned by Jamaicans, but his narrative should be read with reserve: “No country excells them in a barbarous Treatment of Slaves, or in the Cruel Methods they put them to Death: a rebellious Negroe, or he that twice strikes a White Man, is condemned to the Flames; he is carried to the Place of Execution, and chained flat on his Belly, his Arms and Legs extended, then Fire is set to his Feet, and so he is burnt gradually up: Others they starve to death, with a Loaf hanging before their Mouths; I have seen these unfortunate Wretches gnaw the Flesh off their own Shoulders, and expire in all the frightful Agonies of one under the most horrid Tortures.” Leslie thought such treatment was in some degree excusable in view of the number of slaves and their danger. 98 Even Dr. Houstoun, perhaps a more reliable authority, admitted in 1747 the cruelty and stupidity of overseers: “They have no manner of Discipline amongst the Negro-slaves, neither Religious nor Civil, but the Exercise of the Whip and Stocks, and they are too often used, sometimes wrongfully and most unmercifully.” 99 The frequency of insurrection in the years 1730 to 1740 was probably due not only to unwise management but to a long period of commercial depression which deprived many Negroes of adequate rations. That similar cruelties prevailed in Barbadoes is evidenced by the legislature’s amendment in 1740 of a former act for the regulation of slaves, “in order,” wrote Governor Byng, “to prevent in some measure the ill will and obstinacy of Owners of Slaves and the hasty Execution of them as also to subject free Negroes to such Evidence on Tryall as they were not lyable to before.” 100
More intelligent observers were coming to recognize, apparently later than in the French islands, that Negroes were susceptible to discipline by methods not wholly based on brute force, and that a society that failed to create a wholesome morale among its slaves by humane principles was in a highly precarious state. Governor Thomas Robinson of Barbadoes in a letter to the Board of Trade in 1747 recognized the stupidity and costliness of British methods and suggested means of harmonizing relations between capital and labor. “Though the Importation of Blacks,” he wrote, “have been very considerable for many years past, yet I do not find the Increase in the Island bears any Proportion to the Numbers Imported which I take to arise from the want of some effectual Municipal Law, to oblige their Masters to use less Severity, & Cruelty towards them on one Hand, and to work ’em with more Humanity and Cloth and feed ’em better on the other.” He called attention to the better state of affairs in the French islands where, though the number of slaves was greater, “the Priests confess ’em, & persuade them to believe they are Christians. By which confession they keep a strong Hand over them against their Revolting, or rebelling against their Masters and they have a Law to oblige their Masters to give ’em such a Quantity of Meat & Pulse every Week; Happy for our Sugar Islands, shou’d a Practice or Law oblige us to follow in this humane Measure which both the Dictates of Humanity Interest and True Policy shou’d oblige them to.” 101 The home authorities seem to have been impressed with the wisdom of this advice and the instructions to Governor Henry Grenville contain this interesting suggestion: “You shall endeavour to get a Law passed (if not already done) for the restraining of any Inhuman Severities, wch by ill Masters or Overseers may be used towards their Christian Servants and their Slaves; And that Provision be made therein, that the Wilfull Killing of Indians and Negroes may be Punished with Death, and that a fit Penalty be imposed for the Maiming of them.” But Governor Grenville, less of an idealist than his predecessor, Robinson, shrank from proposing the substitution of state interference in the relations of master and servant for the principle of laissez-faire which commonly prevailed. His report to the Board in 1752 reflects the unenlightened opinion of most of the planters: “There seems to be sufficient provisions made by the Laws now in force, for restraining any inhuman Severities, which may be used by ill Masters and Overseers towards their Christian Servants, or their Slaves: of the First of these, the Number is now very small; but no provision has been made in any Law that the Wilfull Killing of Indians, or Negroes, shall be punished with Death: there have been very few Instances of such Killing: and the Legislature here have probably been deterr’d from time to time from making such a provision, from an Apprehension of the Dangerous Effects it might have on the Spirits of the Negroes, by lessening that Awe which they ever ought to stand of their Masters.” He concluded with the observation that political security demanded a somewhat severe regime and recommended that the instruction in favor of humane legislation be withdrawn. No clearer statement has been found of the popular conception of slavery among British West Indians. 102
That the killing of slaves occurred in Jamaica; also, is indicated in her legislation. The act of 1696 for the order and government of slaves had provided that a person who wantonly killed his own or another’s slave, for the first offence was guilty of felony but entitled to benefit of clergy; the second offence should be deemed murder and punishable as such. Jamaica, as well as Barbadoes, seems to have been touched by the humanitarian criticism of the mid century as embodied in the instructions to governors, and the act was amended and explained by another statute passed in 1751. This act recited that the law of 1696 “not having been found sufficient to Deter Persons from Committing such Wicked and Inhuman Practices, it was enacted that any person who murdered any slave, for the first offence should suffer imprisonment for not over twelve months and should pay the owner, unless it was his own slave, sixty pounds; for the second offence the murderer should suffer death but no forfeiture of property.” 103
The humanitarian movement which appeared in the mid century was thus felt in the West Indies and to a slight extent affected legislation in accordance with official instructions. While the sentiment grew in England, it is difficult to detect, except among absentee owners and a few enlightened proprietors, any change of attitude or practice in.the treatment of slaves. Dr. Campbell in his Candid and Impartial Considerations on the Sugar Trade in 1763 argued forcibly that a little more humanity would have enabled Barbadoes to save two-thirds of the purchase price for slaves. But, as a contemporary Englishman said, it was no use, preaching humanity to those materialists. 104 The proprietor class were increasingly affected by humanitarianism as is evidenced in their correspondence and treatises and the growing disposition of slaves to appeal to their visiting owners for reforms. But the overseers in immediate charge of Negroes were little affected by the new spirit and put their reliance in force.
William Beckford, typical of the enlightened absentee and lettered proprietors like Martin, Long, Edwards, and Sir William Young, stated the problem in 1788: “If overseers were better instructed than they are, and would address the Negroes with propriety of language, and treat them as human creatures, not as brutes, their commands would be more cheerfully, and better performed. If the worst treatment cannot render them vindictive, how docile might they be made by gentle conduct?” Many overseers were still needlessly cruel, and slaves who appealed from the brutality of overseers to their masters were generally treated worse by overseers from that time. Negroes under good masters on the other hand were better off, according to Beckford, than laboring people in Europe. 105
The movement, which ultimately bore fruit in the abolition of the slave trade and emancipation, reached its culmination in the eighteenth century in the inquiry on slavery by a committee of the Privy Council in 1788. Several planters and absentee proprietors testified on the conditions of life and labor in the West Indies. John Braithwaite, proprietor of estates in Barbadoes and agent for the island, stated that prior to about 1768 the treatment of slaves was marked by much more cruelty than since that date. The wanton killing of a slave in Barbadoes remained nevertheless, by law of August 8, 1788, punishable by a fine of 15 Pounds Sterling only. It was not uncommon, he said, for slaves to suffer for food when corn [breadstuff] was high or a sugar crop failed. Industrious Negroes, of course, raised some provisions, hogs, and poultry about their own huts or on allotments. Even so, he thought a slave was as well off as a free Negro- and better than an English laborer with a family. The usual allowance of a waistcoat, Osnaburg breeches, and a cotton or woolen vest left the slave underclothed. The annual expense of supporting a slave was computed by some at 4 Pounds Sterling, or two days’ labor out of six. Many slaves were let out to hire. The only instance of task work that Braithwaite was aware of was where hired slaves were paid by the acre for holing; for this their owners were paid 3 Pounds Sterling or 3.10 Pounds Sterling currency per acre; they were fed by the person who hired them; working tools were supplied by the slave’s owner. The Negroes had to themselves Sundays, holidays, the day after Christmas or “boxing day” in England, and Good Friday; other authorities include Saturday afternoon. Slaves usually worked “from sun to sun,” allowing for breakfast and two hours at noon. After six o’clock they were at liberty. In sickness they were given great care. 106
Conditions in the Leeward Islands were elicited from an important proprietor named Charles Spooner. Here salt provisions were dealt out to the slaves once a week in addition to a superabundance of their own cultivated provisions, hogs, goat’s milk, and poultry, some of which they sold at local fairs and purchased checks, cottons, and salt fish. Each slave had a thatched hut of stone or wood and sufficient clothing . The maintenance of a slave in food, clothing , and medical attention amounted to 4 to 6 Pounds Sterling a year, more in the Leeward Islands where several kinds of provisions had to be imported than in Jamaica which raised more of its own food. Slaves were hired out in Grenada at 9 Pounds Sterling currency (5 10s. Sterling) and in St. Christopher at 4 Pounds Sterling 10s. (2 11s..5d. Sterling) per acre a year for holing cane land. The renter fed and maintained them at 10 to 12 Pounds Sterling a year. But the number of Negroes hired was small in each island. Slaves were allowed a day or part of a day each week to work for themselves. “In practice the Negroe owns his provisions and live stock of his own raising and sells it. It is the practice to assign them a piece of land. Thus Negro slaves sometimes acquire 400 to 500 Pounds Sterling of property. Richer Negroes buy the land of the poorer which sometimes necessitates a redistribution.” In one of Spooner’s estates in St. Christopher of 500 acres and 160 to 170 slaves the Negroes were allowed as much land as they could cultivate. In another of his plantations of 200 acres and 200 slaves they had 40 acres, besides which “we frequently plant pieces of the Cane Land with Yams & c., and distribute them among the Negroes.” “Whenever we purchase a New Negro we fix him with an Old one, who teaches him the manner of living, and the Customs of the Island.” If, when left alone, he grew poor, he received special attention and assistance from the overseers in provisions and clothes. Slaves in St. Christopher, according to Spooner, were very well treated and contented. 107
On the care of diseased and worn out slaves Mr. Spooner spoke at length. In addition to the ills of which white men were heirs, Negroes were particularly susceptible to leprosy, yaws, worms, mal d’estomac, guinea worms, and smallpox. The climate , drinking new rum, and being out at night exposed the Negro especially to sickness. Every estate had a hospital, or “Hot House” as it was called, for Negro cases that needed isolation. Each estate had a surgeon or one who visited twice a week and oftener in emergencies at a fixed salary. Medicines were sent out from England each year by the proprietors. Old and superannuated slaves were maintained by their masters. 108 As we thus read Charles Spooner’s answers in the inquiry, we seem to be listening to a benevolent rural aristocrat of the revolutionary period in English agriculture actuated by scientific methods and principles not least of which was the new spirit of humanitarianism in the treatment of his laboring people.
The number and influence of enlightened proprietors was undoubtedly increasing rapidly in the late eighteenth century. Notwithstanding the conservatism of overseers, the treatment of slaves was on the whole less barbarous. But the new spirit in industry was but barely emerging in a society still committed to selfish exploitation and long to remain so. Atrocities occasionally occurred and the whites held no monopoly of their commission. Thus tradition records the strangulation by a negress of her mistress, Mrs. Rosa Palmer, May 1, 1790, in the arbor of her residence at Rose Hall, Jamaica. 109 Slaves were still fettered and shackled. 110 That the use of the whip continued to be regarded as the very basis of order need occasion no surprise; even among British soldiers and marines of the period the lash remained an important instrument of discipline. “I am indeed assured,” said Lewis, “that to manage a West India estate without the occasional use of the cart whip, however rarely, is impossible.” 111 But this enlightened absentee decided to try the experiment; he abolished the use of the cart-whip on his “Cornwall” estate in Jamaica. The sequel, in his own words, was: “But now they think that I shall protect them against all punishment, and have made regularly ten hogsheads of sugar a week less than they did before my coming upon the estate.” 112 On another occasion Lewis paid a brief visit to his estate called “Hordley” in St. Thomas in the East, and gives us an example of the kind of disorder that sometimes prevailed under the best intentioned of absentee proprietors. “Here,” he said, “I expected to find a perfect paradise, and I found a perfect hell. Report had assured me that Hordley was the best managed estate in the island; and, so far as the soil was concerned, report appeared to have said true: but my trustee had also assured me that my Negroes were the most contented and best disposed, and here there was a lamentable incorrectness in the account. I found them in a perfect uproar; complaints of all kinds stunned me from all quarters: all the blacks accused all the whites, and all the whites accused all the blacks; and, as far as I could make out, both parties were extremely in the right.” During his week’s visit Lewis found his trustee guilty of indolence; he discharged one bookkeeper and the “chief black governor,” gave the Negroes new holdings, additional allowances of food and presents of money, and left them apparently content and in good humor. 113 But his leniency and altruism were followed by demoralization and a marked decline in production; and the benevolent gentleman planter seems finally to have been disillusioned and declared that slaves in general appeared to be incapable of practical gratitude. Upon inquiring into the case of a boy who complained of hunger he found that the lad had really received his rations regularly but, as was not uncommon, sold them in town to get liquor. 114 Again, “The quantity of sugar which they purloin during the crop, and dispose of at the Bay for a mere trifle, is enormous.” And so on. 115
The trouble with much of the humanitarianism of the absentee gentlemen planters was that it was doctrinaire. Its spirit was not invalid but its application required patient living with the problem, common sense, gratification over little gains in morale, hardships and deprivations which residence on a tropical frontier entailed. But to endure these things and slowly translate idealism into practical living seemed to exceed the strength and spirit of the wealthy heirs of the pioneers.
A growing scarcity of slaves, after the abolition of the trade in 1807, did much to improve the treatment of the remaining slaves. Whatever the hardships in two centuries of slavery, the Negro race had come through with an unquenchable optimism and capacity for joy. “I never saw people look more happy in my life,” wrote Lewis in his diary, “and I believe their condition to be much more comfortable than that of the labourers of Great Britain.” 116 The gradual elevation of such a people from slavery to freedom constituted a magnificent challenge. The principles of such a social evolution–individual private holdings, fixity of tenure, fixed services or the task system, right to life, property, and the jurisdiction of public justice–all had received unofficial recognition by 1800 and had already emerged to some extent in practice. That the development thus commenced should have been blighted for lack of leadership is one of the tragedies of social history. Nor was political emancipation any answer to the challenge; on the contrary, it marked for a long period a fanatical abandonment of the Negro problem.
The Breeding And Vitality Of Eighteenth Century Slaves In The British West Indies
It was the aim of the early planters in general to maintain conditions that would favor the self-perpetuation of the Negro population. This result was never quite achieved during the period of slavery but, in the approach to its realization, two sections of the British West Indies may be differentiated: one, the island of Jamaica where there was an abundance of fresh soil–the frontier, as it were, for the expansion of sugar culture, making an insatiable demand for fresh slaves for the arduous task of clearing under conditions unfavorable to breeding; the other, the older sugar islands like Barbadoes, Antigua and the Leeward group, which had been completely reduced to cultivation and where the Negro population more nearly, though not actually, reproduced itself and which probably would have tended in time, through overpopulation, to become the breeding ground of Creole slaves. So active was the demand for labor, however, that no section in the period of slavery really experienced over population and became the breeding section to another; until 1807 Africa remained the cradle of the slave population. 117
Among the earliest planters, according to Ligon, it was the policy to buy an equal number of male and female slaves. 118 Women were valuable as laborers and tended to produce general contentment aside from their effect on population. Richard Blome in 1672 mentioned the desire to increase population as the motive behind the policy: “For the encrease of the stock of Negroes, they generally take as many Men as Women.” 119 Hans Sloane said it was to maintain the morale of the males that “wives” were provided: “The care of the Masters and Overseers about their Wives, is what keeps their plantations chiefly in good order; whence they ever buy Wives in proportion to their Men, lest the Men should wander to neighbouring Plantations, and neglect to serve them.” 120
But the eighteenth century witnessed a change in policy; the early practice of buying men and women in equal numbers was abandoned in favor of a larger proportion of men. John Stewart and John Wright, agents in Jamaica for the Royal African Company, in a report to the company in 1714 expressed the “Desire that, in the purchase of Negroes [in Africa] there may be three men to one woman, no old people nor young children.” 121 Such advice, of course, reflects the sentiment of Jamaican planters whom experience had evidently taught that it was cheaper to buy than to breed slaves. The ratio between imported men and women continued to widen until, in 1764, Hippesley declared that there had been as a rule five or six times as many males as females exported from Africa. This, he said, favored polygamy in Africa which in turn tended to increase population there; “unmarried” Africans were seldom seen; even the poorest had one or two wives. “Africa,” said Hippesley, “not only can continue supplying the West Indies in the quantities she has hitherto, but, if necessity required it, could spare thousands, nay, millions more, and go on doing the same to the end of time.” 122 Under these circumstances, the planters came to give no encouragement to breeding. 123 In Antigua, also, one of the older settlements, the colonial agent stated that the number of females imported in 1788 was about one-third less than the number of males. 124 This ratio is also confirmed by. statistics of importations at Grenada in the same period: in the years 1784 to June 1, 1788, the importation amounted to 49 cargoes containing 13,561 slaves valued at 463,419 Pounds Sterling, of whom there were 5850 men and 2365 boys, or 8215 males, and 3371 women and 1975 girls, or 5346 females. 125 This ratio was wider than in South Carolina where Reverend James, Stuart stated that the numbers of males and females were about equal and cited several instances of high birth rates on South Carolina plantations. 126
The inability of the slave population to reproduce itself is revealed by comparisons of statistics of population and of importations over long periods. Jamaica, for example, had in 1690 about 40,000 slaves. From 1690 to 1820 the island imported about 800,000, yet in 1820 the Negro population was only about 340,000. The failure of population to increase more was largely due to inequality in numbers of the sexes; in Jamaica alone, in 1789, the excess of males over females was 30,000. 127
The principles of selection in buying new slaves seem to have been well understood by the mid-eighteenth century. These principles were set forth in Dr. James Grainger’s Essay on West Indian Diseases in 1764; to the extent that they were observed, it would seem that a practical sort of eugenics operated in the selection and breeding of slaves. Dr. Grainger was a pioneer in the now important study of tropical disease and hygiene. He distinguished varieties of Guinea Negroes according to their physical and mental reactions to the West India environment and servile status. “Thus the Cormantees, who are a brave and free people at home, cannot submit to the unavoidable severities of bondage; while the Minnals are too apt to destroy themselves upon the least, and even without any provocation.” Mandingoes nearly all had worms; Congo Negroes were liable to dropsy; planters therefore should be cautious not to select such varieties, except in necessity when they might buy young ones only. Among Iboes only the women in general worked; they, therefore, should be preferred to men at sales. “And yet there is a great risque in buying women; for, from the scantiness of their clothing in their own country, not to mention other reasons, they often labour under incurable obstructions of the menses, whence proceed barrenness and many disorders.” Healthy Negroes only should be chosen. The marks of health were a glossy sleekness of unblemished skin, clear eyes, red tongue, open chest, small belly, and free use of their limbs. It was best to buy boys not much over fifteen, and girls not over twelve years of age.
On the “seasoning” of new Negroes Grainger was explicit. When brought to the plantations they should be clothed and put under the care of an elderly person, preferably from their own country, who should be responsible for their diet . This should be as nearly as possible like that of their home country and might be learned from their kindred. In general, it was advisable to bleed new Negroes; the quantity of blood drawn should never amount to more than four ounces even from the stoutest. Castor oil was extensively used as a purgative. It was especially recommended that new slaves be dosed twice a week for six weeks with a “decoction of worm-grass, clarified with lemon juice, or cow-itch sheathed with melasses.” Remedies for worms were in common use. If the Negroes brought palm oil with them they were to continue anointing with it, for bathing and oiling were supposed to prevent profuse perspiration, conserve strength, and preserve them from colds and other infirmities. It was urged that this practice, which was general in Africa, should be retained in the West Indies. Each Negro must have a blanket to sleep in and a mat to lie on. Negroes bought in crop time were likely to be healthier than those bought in the rainy season, because the climate was healthier, provisions plentiful, and cane juice, which they were urged to drink, acted as a tonic.
“New Negroes, in particular,” said Dr. Grainger, “must be managed with the utmost humanity. To put a hoe in the hands of a new Negroe, and to oblige him to work with a seasoned gang, is to murder that Negroe. The African must be familiarized to labour by gentle degrees.” The observance of this precept is doubtful. It was in the clearing of new soil that the mortality of slaves was greatest. Proprietors of wooded estates, as in the Grenadines in Grainger’s time, were advised first to permit slaves to make a clearing for their huts and provisions. They should be guarded against rain and dampness and have warm blankets in case they come home with their coarse linens wet. In the fields they should wear “Edinburghs.” 128 Wise masters would feed their Negroes well. Even a slave acclimated in one island was exposed to considerable risk if transplanted to another colony. Creoles carried from their native island to another commonly had to undergo a seasoning; in fact slaves moved from one plantation to another on the same island sometimes became sickly. During such changes the utmost humanity should be observed. Negroes should never be sent to mountain plantations were they were very liable to catch cold and contract “fluxes” that were hard to cure and sometimes fatal. No Negro was regarded as seasoned till he had lived at least a year in the West India climate . 129
Marriage among the Negroes commonly perpetuated the characteristics of the institution as it existed in Africa and, in the long period before Christian missions, little or no attempt was made to inculcate Anglo-Saxon conceptions of marriage. On the contrary, it was the white managers who tended to adopt the more primitive sexual relations as is evidenced by the increase of mulattoes. Marriage was under no regulation. “A man may have what wife he pleaseth, and either of them may break the yoke at their caprice.” Intercourse, according to the travellers, was quite promiscuous. 130 Marriages were attended with neither ceremony nor contract; the parties simply agreed to live together, “but in general both parties take great liberties with each other.” 131 Polygamy was sometimes practiced by West Indian slaves. Yet the birth rate among Negroes was low and was attributed in part to promiscuous concubinage and overwork. 132
The offspring of slaves revealed great variations of color. The Kingston parish register of baptisms mentions black or Negro, mulatto, sambo, quadroon, mustee or mestee, brown, “of colour,” and Indian. 133 The mulatto was the offspring of a white man and a black woman; the mulatto and a black produced a sambo; from the mulatto and a white came the quadroon; from the quadroon and white the mustee; the child of a mustee by a white man was called a musteefino. The children of a musteefino in Jamaica were free by law and ranked as white persons to all intents and purposes. It was sometimes asserted that two mulattoes could never have children, but Lewis states that the idea was an unfounded inference from the preference of mulatto women for white men and that mulattoes bred together as well as blacks and whites. But the offspring were almost universally weak and effeminate and difficult to rear. On a sugar estate one black was considered as more than equal to two mulattoes.
Female mulattoes were often beautiful in form and displayed ease and grace of movement, but “lacked bosoms.” 134 Mulatto marriages under decent conditions were, according to Ramsay, extremely prolific with numerous healthy offspring. He could recollect over six such families in which there was no doubt about the children’s legitimacy. 135
Mulatto girls were very generally the willing or unwilling victims of illicit relations with white men. These they preferred to mulatto mates who were compelled to associate with black women who, in turn, preferred them to the pure blacks. In fact, there seems to have been a growing desire among colored women to live with men a shade lighter than themselves and the ambition to have a “fair chile” is still widespread in Jamaica. 136 References to promiscuity are numerous. At its worst, sexual relationship with white men was a matter of commercialized traffic, the following description of which was given by Ramsay in 1784: “Mulattoe girls, during the flower of their age, are universally sacrificed to the lust of white men; in some instances to that of their own fathers. In our town, the sale of their first commerce with the other sex, at an unripe age, is an article of trade for their mothers and elder sisters; nay, it is not an uncommon thing for their mistresses, chaste matrons, to hire them out, and take an account of their gains; or, if they be free, they hire their service and their persons, to some one of the numerous band of bachellors. In this commerce they often contract diseases, and generally continue in it till they grow haggard and worn out. Thus few mulattoes marry in their own rank, and fewer in a state of health favorable to population.” 137
But the association of mulatto women and white men was not uncommonly without a certain degree of honor, affection, and permanence. Lewis instanced several illustrations of women thus serving as “housekeepers.” He met “a very pretty brown girl, by name Elizabeth Thompson. She told me that she was only residing with her parents during her husband’s absence; for she was (it seems) the soi-disant wife of an English merchant in Kingston, and had a house at Tachy’s Bridge. This kind of establishment is the highest object of the brown females of Jamaica; they seldom marry men of their own colour, but lay themselves out to captivate some white person, who takes them for mistresses, under the appelation of housekeepers. Soon after my arrival at Cornwall,” continued Lewis, “I asked my attorney whether a clever looking brown woman, who seemed to have great authority in the house, belonged to me?-No; she was a free woman.–Was she in my service, then?–No; she was not in my service. I began to grow impatient.–but what does she do at Cornwall? Of what use is she in the house?– Why sir, as to use–of no great use, sir; and then after a pause, he added in a lower voice, ‘It is the custom, sir, in this country for unmarried men to have housekeepers, and Nancy is mine.’ But he was unjust in saying that Nancy was of no use on the estate; for she is perpetually in the hospital, nurses the children, can bleed, and mix up medicines, and (as I am assured) she is of more service to the sick than all the doctors. These brown housekeepers generally attach themselves so sincerely to the interests of their protectors, and make themselves so useful, that they in common retain their situation; and their children (if slaves) are always honoured by their fellows with the title of Miss. My mulatto housemaid is always called ‘Miss Polly,’ by her fellow-servant Phyllis. This kind of connection is considered by a brown girl in the light of marriage. They will tell you with an air of vanity, ‘I am Mr. Such-a-one’s Love!’ and always speak of him as being her husband; and I am told, that, except on these terms, it is extremely difficult to obtain the favours of a woman of colour. To gain the situation of housekeeper to a white man, ‘directs her aim; this makes her happiness, and this her fame.” 138 For descriptions of the perpetuation of this mode of life in our own time one should read Alice Spinner’s delightful Study in Colour.
The consequence of such unions was that the white stock of the West Indies was largely absorbed by the black race. In the register of baptisms for Kingston parish, begun in 1785, two out of the first seven entries are of children of married women, a ratio of legitimacy which according to the Registrar General’s returns would be about the normal record of present day legitimacy among Jamaica Negroes. 139 “This island, from one end to the other,” said a Jamaican in the period following emancipation, “is strewn with wives without husbands, and children without paternity. For a hundred and fifty years inheritances have been taken not by what ought to have been law, but by a rule that opinion had created and made legal in despite of law, and families that maintained all the proprieties of family unions, faithful in each other’s affection–avowing their children as theirs, have been bastardized….” 140 Throughout the British West Indies the more cultivated mulattoes or Creoles of mixed blood have become a middle class group, separated from, and superior to, the black peasantry. Individuals of the colored race who have risen to prominence in political or professional life have been members of the mixed blood caste. 141
The breeding of slaves in the West Indies was never sufficient to maintain an adequate labor supply. The early policy of importing women for this purpose was, as we have seen, abandoned and those purchased in the eighteenth century were destined primarily for field work or domestic service. “The labour of Females,’ wrote Governor Parry of Barbadoes, “. . in the works of the field is the same as that of the Men.” 142 The expense of rearing slaves in the islands was regarded as greater than the cost of a constant importation of fresh Negroes from Africa. 143 In view of this conviction, planters offered no inducements to their slave women to rear large families, and many proprietors discouraged Negro women from breeding. 144 Even in the long settled islands where over-population among the slaves and favorable conditions for breeding for the market might be expected to exist, such was not the case. Charles Spooner, a Leeward Islands planter, stated in 1788 that Barbadoes, Antigua, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat, where cultivation had long since reached its height, were still importing slaves “merely to keep up their Stock.” 145 The West Indies, in other words, never developed a breeding belt for Creole slaves such as the over-populated tobacco belt of Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky became for the cotton states of the American union. After the abolition of the slave trade and under humane treatment, if slavery had continued longer than it did, it is conceivable that Barbadoes and the Leeward Islands might have become the breeding ground of West India slaves.
Slave women ordinarily began to breed at the age of sixteen to eighteen, but the birth- rate was generally small and was normally below the death rate. Speaking of his own estates and those under his care, Charles Spooner stated that the death rate among slaves was six per cent and the birth rate only four per cent. The mortality among new slaves was greater than among seasoned Negroes. The proportion of births among Creole slaves was greater than among imported Negroes. “The causes which impede the Natural Increase of Negroes,” said Spooner, “are the larger proportion of Males to Females on most Estates, the premature and promiscuous Commerce of the Sexes, the indiscriminate Prostitution of the Women in the younger part of their Lives, their frequent total Barrenness brought on by Debauchery, repeated abortions and Venereal Diseases, the immoderate use of New Rum, which brings on Debility and old Age long before Nature would otherwise give way.” Most of these menaces to population were beyond correction, according to Spooner; the only remedies he could suggest were the maintenance of a better proportion between males and females and prohibition of the sale of rum to slaves. Perhaps the most fatal malady among Negro children was the jaw-fall, or lock Jaw, “which carries off, I should suppose near one half of the Children of all Negroes whether Free or Slave.” 146
That hard field labor diminished the fecundity of women was credited by Long, who claimed that, where production was not pushed beyond two hogsheads of sugar to three slaves, the stock could be maintained by breeding. 147
That the opposition of the planters to breeding was a primary cause of the low birth rate among slaves was the opinion of many contemporary observers. “When I was in the West Indies,” stated Sir George Younge who often visited the islands before 1768, “the Planters did not seem desirous to encourage the Breeding of Slaves, but thought it cheaper to purchase.” 148 Reverend James Ramsay, who lived at St. Kitts in the years 1762-1781, said there was not the least regard paid to breeding, except where the manager’s or planter’s wife by an oversight of the infants encouraged it.
Of African slaves, that is not Creole, he added that not one in ten left posterity; Creoles who constituted four-fifths of the slaves were more prolific but failed to sustain population. He had witnessed “Wretches who are upraided, cursed and ill treated . . . for being found in a condition to become mothers.” 149 It was not that slave women could not rear large families under favorable conditions. “I have known Negro Women,” said John Braithwaite, a Barbadoes planter, “have eight, nine, or ten children but that is not common: They begin breeding earlier, but do not continue to breed so long as women in this country.” He attributed the low birth rate to promiscuity and overwork. 150
A few statistics on breeding are available for one of Edward Long’s estates during the years 1766, 1767, and 1768. Here the whole number of males was 123, and of females 140 of whom 77 were of child-bearing age. Thus 77 women produced only an average of six births per year. The births of boys and girls were equal. The number of deaths exceeded the births by one per year; the deaths averaged seven per annum or about 1 in 38 of the total slave population. 151
With the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, the supply of fresh Africans became scarce, prices rose, and the attitude of planters toward breeding naturally became more favorable. During his visit in 1816 to his Jamaican estates, Monk Lewis noted in his journal that when Negro women became pregnant they notified the overseer of the fact and were relieved of severe labor. Among the Negroes they were known as “bellywomen.” On the tenth or fourteenth day after delivery, mothers were rewarded by presents of clothes, provisions, and sometimes money, and some badge to secure their kindly treatment. 152 Perhaps no finer illustration can be found of the humanitarian effect of the abolition of the African trade in slaves than this change of policy toward breeding. The same attitude is reflected, as we have already seen, in Roughley’s Planter’s Guide of 1823 in the directions he lays down for the scrupulous care of slave mothers and their infants. Under such humane conditions, in place of a ruthless sacrifice of motherhood and child life to industrial greed, it is not unlikely that many of the older islands might have reared an adequate supply of Creole laborers. In our own time Barbadoes, for example, has become one of the most densely populated areas on the earth and we have recently witnessed the extraordinary contribution of its surplus man-power in the building of the Panama Canal, in the completion of which Creoles from practically all the British West Indies had an indispensable share.
Old African names long survived in use for Negro children, though Christian names began to appear in the parish registers in the late eighteenth century. Negro children were given names according to the day of the week on which they were born. In the lore of obeah practices it is said that the obeahman or sorcerer did not use a Negro’s common or Christian name when he wanted to bewitch him, but his “born day” name. The following list of “born day” names was supplied by two Jamaican school-mistresses:
Sunday Quashy Quashiba
Monday Quaco Juba
Tuesday Cubena Cuba
Wednesday Cudjo Bennie
Thursday Quaw Abba
Friday Cuffy Pheba
Saturday Quamin Bennaba
Probably accompanying these and in addition to them, such names were coming into vogue as Punch, Plato, Priam, Pam, Hemp, Hercules, Minerva, Moll, Psyche, Judah, Phillis, and Venus. 154
That slaves were a highly perishable population in the heyday of the old sugar industry is indicated throughout the contemporary sources. Edward Lyttleton, toward the close of the seventeenth century, gives a typical account of the liabilities of primitive Africans suddenly brought in contact with a more complicated society: “Our Negroes, which cost us so dear, are also extremely casual. When a man hath bought. a parcel of the best and ablest he can get for the money; let him take all the care he can, he shall lose a full third part of them, before they ever come to do him service. When they are season’d, and used to the country, they stand much better, but to how many chances are they still subject?
If a stiller slip into a rum cistern, it is sudden death: for it stiffes in a moment. If a mill-feeder be catch’d by the finger, his whole body is drawn in, and he is squees’d to pieces. If a boyler get any part into the scalding sugar, it sticks like glue or birdlime, and ’tis hard to save either limb or life. They will quarrel and kill one another, upon small occasions: by many accidents they are disabled, and become a burden: they will hang themselves, no creature knows why. And sometimes there comes a mortality amongst them, which sweeps a great part of them away.” To purchase fresh Negroes the poor planter was constantly running into debt. 155
In addition to diseases peculiar to Africans, the Negroes were particularly susceptible to white men’s maladies many of which proved especially deadly to slaves. It has been observed that native groups, living long in isolation, when exposed to comparatively harmless European affections like colds and measles, against which they have evolved no defense, often suffer the effects of a deadly epidemic. 156 Negroes must have experienced something of this kind in their early association with white planters and traders. The diseases more frequently mentioned were colds, jaw-fall or lock jaw, especially among infants, yaws, cocoa-bag, guiney worms, smallpox, leprosy, venereal diseases, menstrual obstructions, promiscuous venery, and ulcers. Then there was malnutrition often caused by radical changes of diet , the sacrifice of fresh provision grounds to greed for sugar production, scarcity of supplies in wartime, and the excessive use of new rum. Besides these and accompanying them was often an unhealthy psychological state produced by captivity, deprivation of women and children, overwork, alcoholism, and cruel treatment; a despondency culminating in suicide was not uncommon. 157 The intemperate drinking of new rum caused endless trouble to whites and blacks alike, particularly to newly arrived Africans. Barbadoes in 1692 passed an act prohibiting the sale of rum or other liquors to slaves, under a fine of twenty shillings; buying liquor of a slave was punishable by the same fine plus ten lashes. 158 But such a sumptuary law was unenforceable and the sources contain numerous allusions to the evils of intemperance. 159
Infant mortality among Negroes was heavy, aggravated no doubt before the nineteenth century by the inability of mothers who were field hands to care properly for their babies. Jaw-fall or lock jaw, according to Charles Spooner of the Leeward Islands carried off nearly one-half of the children of all the Negroes whether free or slave. The disease was confined mainly to Negroes, and for it no remedy had been found. 160 Stephen Fuller, a Jamaican proprietor, testified in 1788 that “of the children born here it has been remarked, that 1/3d die of the Tetanus or locked Jaw, before the 9th day from their birth and of those who survive this period, one half too frequently perish by worms, or the yaws before they attain the Age of five years–whether these Disorders are equally destructive to the Children of free Negroes the Medical practitioners can best Ascertain.” White children were less liable to these distempers. Negro children were sometimes born with hereditary venereal diseases. 161 The carelessness of Negro mothers, moreover, even in the more humane period of slavery, took its toll of infant life; lock jaw following a careless exposure to cold continued to be common in the nineteenth century. One of Lewis’ slave women had borne ten children but only one was alive; another had seven but only one lived to puberty. “And the instances of those who have had four, five, six children, without succeeding in bringing them up, in spite of the utmost attention and indulgence, are very numerous, so heedless and inattentive are the best intentioned mothers and so subject in this climate are infants to dangerous complaints.” 162
Among the injurious habits of Negroes was the curious practice of dirt eating. Cakes were made of a certain clay and often eaten to such excess as to produce death: Edward Long believed that the habit added largely to the annual death roll of Jamaica. 163 Lameness was very general among Negroes and was often caused by the chiga, a diminutive fly, laying its eggs in their feet, whereupon the flesh corrupted and sores ensued. Even the cleanest people had to beware of this infection. 164 Yaws was a contagious tropical skin disease prevalent among the slaves. 165
Nearly every estate had its hospital or “hot-house” for Negro cases that needed isolation; there was either a physician in residence or one who periodically visited the plantation at a fixed salary; medicines were sent out from England each year by the proprietors. 166″This morning,” wrote Lewis, “I went to visit the hospital, and found there only eight patients out of three hundred Negroes, and not one of them a serious case.” 167 Among slaves, in fact, presence in the hospital was no sure evidence of bona fide sickness. To test the illness of those in his hospital, Lewis on one occasion announced that there was to be a frolic at the great house that night. ‘The effect of my prescription,” he said, “was magical; two thirds of the sick were hale and hearty, at work in the field on Saturday morning, and today not a soul remained in the hospital except the four serious cases.” 168 At another time a girl whose hand had been bitten insisted on going out of the hospital on a Sunday, and, although her hand had really healed, she cut open the wounds again with packthread and rubbed dirt into them in order to get back into the hospital again on Monday to escape work. 169 In estimating the costliness of slave labor, one must not overlook this propensity among Negroes. The nineteenth century witnessed in the West Indies as elsewhere much improvement in hygienic conditions; by the middle of the century a medical authority stated that in a practice of twenty years in Jamaica he had known but two black men to die of yellow fever. 170
The mortality of Negroes during the slave regime would seem to a modern person, as it did to the humanitarians of the late eighteenth century, a serious indictment of the system of servitude. On the voyage from Africa to the colonies the loss in slaves was estimated at about twelve and one-half per cent. 171 The high death rate in the islands has already been alluded to repeatedly. Lyttleton in 1689 placed it at six per cent per year: “He that hath a hundred Negroes, should buy half a dozen every year to keep up his stock. And they will cost as it hath been noted about twenty pound a head.” 172 Leslie, in 1740, stated that almost half of the newly imported Negroes died in “seasoning”; nor did polygamy, which he said existed, add much to restocking the plantation. 173 Among Negroes infected with yaws, Edward Long put the death rate from seasoning, that is, during the first three years, at from a third to a half; a planter named Robertson placed it at two-fifths of all the slaves, an estimate which Reverend James Ramsay confirmed for St. Christopher where he resided from 1762 to 1781. 174 Edward Long, who was more careful, wrote: “It is calculated that of all slaves imported, there dies every year in America the 7th part of the blackes imported here from Guiney”; he regarded the statement of Ramsay and Wilberforce that about one-third of all the new Negroes imported died in three years as an exaggeration. 175 Even Long admitted that one-fourth of the new Negroes were likely to die during the first eighteen months of seasoning. The total annual shrinkage of the slave stock of an estate, however, he placed as low as two per cent. 176
Dr. Adair, for twenty years a physician in Antigua, estimated the annual death rate in 1788 at one and a half to two per cent; in some unhealthy plantations at perhaps double that rate. 177 The difficulty with many contemporary estimates is that they fail to discriminate between new Negroes during seasoning and acclimated slaves. If we accept the more careful figures of Long and Adair, it would seem that the century 1689 to 1789 had witnessed some slight improvement in the preservation of Negro life, once it was adjusted to plantation environment.
Yet the closing years of the century witnessed the continued inability of a slave society to perpetuate its numbers and an industrial progress based literally on the extermination of human life. The fluctuations of slave population in both Barbadoes and Jamaica in the latter part of the eighteenth century, when fairly reliable statistics are available, is to be accounted for, not by reproduction, but by the increase or decline of slave importations into a society that tended constantly to lose numbers. The Negro population of Jamaica, for example, increased during the nineteen years, 1768-1787, from 167,000 to 250,000, or 83,000. The importations during the same period amounted to 129,000, which, had the initial population barely reproduced itself, would have increased the later total to 296,000 instead of only 250,000. In the same period the sugar estates increased from 648 to 1060 and production from 68,000 hogsheads to 100,000 hogsheads, an industrial advance that rested solely upon the fresh import of slaves. 178 Similarly, over the period 1792 to 1799, the net importation was 84,285 which in a self-perpetuating society should have carried the population to nearly 400,000, whereas it was only 307,094 in 1801. 179 In Barbadoes the slave population declined from 68,270 in 1780 to 62,712 in 1787, a period when, accompanying a scarcity of supplies from North America, the importations fell to only 3347 or thereabout, a number inadequate to counteract the natural shrinkage of slave population. 180
The tragic import of these figures did not go unrecognized by intelligent planters in the humanitarian age that was dawning. William Beckford confessed frankly that labor in sugar culture was excessive and that life was sacrificed knowingly to great production. “No man,” he wrote, “who is acquainted with the West Indies, can suppose it possible that, upon the average, estates in the islands, can preserve a given number of Negroes, without the aid of foreign purchase. Some plantations bury more than others. … I believe that, if the introduction of African slaves were inhibited, in twenty years one third of the number would be diminished; in thirty, more than one-half, and in fifty, the whole race very nearly extinct.” If planters could have been content, he added, with half the quantity of sugar then produced, the number of Negroes might have been preserved. On live stock pens or ranches, on the contrary, life was more endurable and Beckford believed that there the number of Negroes certainly was maintained if not increased. 181
The average life of a slave toward the end of the century was fifty to sixty years and, according to a Barbadoes planter, was of equal duration with that of white people in the West Indies but not as long as that of Europeans in Europe. 182 The sources in the eighteenth century contain only casual references to old Negroes. But the nineteenth century, especially after 1807, witnessed an amelioration of conditions; Negroes gained in vitality and the superannuated slave became an object of merciful attention. “It was particularly agreeable to me,” Lewis recorded in his journal in 1816, “to observe, on Saturday, as a proof of the good treatment which they had experienced, so many old servants of the family, many of whom had been born on the estate, and who, though turned of sixty and seventy, were still strong, healthy, and cheerful.” 183A pamphleteer of the same period alleged that “Slaves live to great ages in Jamaica: eighty and one hundred years old are as common on estates as in any country of the same latitude, or more so; and I saw a few years ago a Negro from the Hope Estate in St. Andrew’s, belonging to the Marquis of Buckingham, one hundred and forty-five years old. He walked seven miles that morning and his faculties were perfect, except his sight. Admiral Douglas had a painting taken of him by Field.” 184
But we have now reached the age of apologetics in a period of public opinion that was enraged against the whole system of servitude, and the idealized portrait of the institution by its admirers should be viewed with reserve. It is such a picture of old plantation peace and plenty that Monk Lewis has preserved for us in his delightful, and generally authentic, Journal which was not published till after the close of the slavery agitation. “It appears to me,” he wrote, “a strong proof of the good treatment which the Negroes on Cornwall have been accustomed to receive, that there are many old people upon it; I saw today a woman near a hundred years of age, and I am told that there are several of sixty, seventy. and eighty. I was glad also to find, that several Negroes who had obtained their freedom, and possess little properties of their own in the mountains, and at Savannah la Mar, look upon my estate so little as the scene of their former sufferings as slaves, that they frequently come down to pass a few days in their ancient habitations with their former companions, by way of relaxation.” 185 Something of what this poet proprietor saw may have been experienced by his Negroes, but, as an appreciation of the system as a whole or historically, the picture leaves a false impression. Even admitting that the standard of life of West Indian slaves was as good or a trifle better than that of European peasants and artizans, the conviction cannot be escaped that slavery under the conditions that prevailed for two centuries sacrificed human life and its more precious values to industrial greed and, as a society, doomed it to annihilation. Whatever the social and economic consequences of emancipation may have been, its effect on life itself is recorded twenty years afterward in the words of a Moravian missionary in Jamaica who said: “But on the whole, the mortality among the natives is very moderate; and our church registers of births and deaths show that the population is increasing rapidly, as the number of births is one-third more than the number of deaths.” 186 If servitude as it existed in the eighteenth century meant death to West Indian Negroes, as the facts surely indicate, emancipation marked a veritable physical resurrection of the race.
Fetishism, Witchcraft, And Christianity Among The Slaves
The mental reactions of the Negroes to their new world environment were for the most part unrecorded in the period of slavery but may be largely inferred from what is known of African folkways and from occasional references to barbarous expressions of a primitive philosophy of life. Their cultural heritage consisted of the fetishism of the West African tribes with all the magic, sorcery, exorcism, folk-lore, dances, and music associated with it. 187 So long as the slave trade continued, arrivals from the homeland tended to keep the cultural contact of West Indian slaves with their original environment intimate and vital. Just as the North Atlantic witnessed the transit of an advanced tyoe of Northern European civilization in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, so the equatorial seas saw a transmission of perhaps the most barbarous body of notions and customs to be found on the planet. If the Caribbean was the cockpit of Tudor, Stuart, and Bourbon imperialism, it was in the realm of culture as well a field of conflict between Protestantism and Catholicism, evangelical Christianity and fetishism. In the management of primitive races British policy has always been to interfere as little as possible with native customs and systems of thought. Only when they menaced life and property did they seem to merit attention and justify attempts at suppression. For over a century Englishmen made practically no attempt whatever to replace barbarism with Anglo-Saxon principles of thought and conduct; Protestant dogmatism in practice long failed to include lower races in its scheme of salvation; Negroes were among the natural forces open to exploitation in the pursuit of wealth. In this respect French colonial policy, on the contrary, embraced the principle that both Indians and Negroes were capable of assimilating European culture, and acted upon it throughout the French Antilles. But, just as Christianity itself had been largely paganized in the second century, so Catholicism was fetishized by French-Negroes, and the almost complete reversion of Haytians to barbarism in the nineteenth century is a sad commentary on the futility of the work of the French missionary orders. 188 Though the English were slower and less systematic in educational work, they did abolish the cultural tie with Africa, held tenaciously to the islands, and persistently curbed the atrocious tendencies of fetishism, until in our own time British Negroes seem to be forgetting the more barbarous elements of their heritage and show some promise of a capacity for rational thinking and Christian ethics.
In the thought of primitive men nothing just happens; a phenomenon is always the work of some spirit acting through material agents. To the Negro the world was animated
with malicious or benevolent spirits and man’s chief concern was to exorcise malevolent “duppies” or ghosts and secure aid of friendly spirits. Of these the most popular and powerful was Obeah or Obi, whose origin, or perhaps affinity only. may be sought in the serpent gods of ancient Egypt. The cult of Obi was known and practiced by obeahmen or medicine men, occasionally by old women who somewhat resemble the witches of Christendom. Obeahmen preserved, occasionally modified, and transmitted the whole technique by which men lived and died, coerced nature, protected or destroyed property, cursed and bewitched their fellows and masters, and prospered in love or deviltry. The worship of Obi involved secret meetings at night in the forest, licentious dancing, blood sacrifices of chickens, goats, and at infrequent intervals, more particularly among French patois speaking Negroes, the sacrifice of “a goat without horns,” that is, a human being or child. The virility of the more savage aspects of fetishism, known as Vooduism or Vaudoux worship, among the Haytians was owing perhaps to the fact that the rites and sacrificial prescriptions for child-murder, receipts for hidden treasure, and prayer formulas were early committed to print in a sort of manual for obeahmen published at Nantes in patois and atrocious Latin. 189The influence of this pernicious guide was proven in the Monchy murder case among patois-speaking Negroes in Saint Lucia as late as 1904. 190 Authentic instances of vooduism in Hayti in recent times are carefully narrated in the works of Sir Spencer St. John and Sir Hasketh Bell and Mr. J. S. Udal’s extraordinary article in Folk-Lore.
That obeahmen practiced their nefarious art from the earliest time in the British West Indies, there is no reason to doubt. An “obiaman” was among the rebels executed in
Antigua at the close of an insurrection in 1736. 191 So dangerous did the practice of magic and the secret meetings of Negroes become in the mid eighteenth century that Jamaica passed an act in 1760 to forbid such meetings and the practice of Obeah. Slaves were not to be allowed two successive holidays, nor to leave their master’s plantation without tickets for which they were to be examined at Sunday markets, and slaves found with offensive weapons should suffer death.
Masters were not to let slaves assemble under any circumstances, nor should overseers leave the estates on Sundays. “‘Any Negro,” reads the act, “or other Slave who shall pretend to any Supernatural Power and be detected of making use of any Blood Feathers Parrots Beaks Dogs Teeth, Alligators Teeth, Broken Bottles Grave Dirt Rum Egg Shells or any other materials relative to the practice of Obeah or Witchcraft” shall on conviction suffer death or transportation. 192 Again, in 1780 the county of Westmoreland, Jamaica, was terrorized by an obeahman and bandit combined named Plato. He declared that whoever dared to touch him should suffer spiritual torments as well as be physically shot through the head. Finally he was captured and delivered to the authorities at Montego Bay who condemned him to death. He died heroically; kept up his terrorism to the last, prophesying that his death would be avenged within a year by a storm that should lay waste the whole island. He assured the gaoler who bound him to the stake at which he burned that he would not live long to triumph over his death for he had taken good care to obeah him before he quit the prison. By a curious coincidence, it was claimed, one of the most violent storms broke over Jamaica that year, and the gaoler, brooding over the curse of the medicine-man, declined in health, and in spite of medical aid and a voyage to America, died within the year. 193 Whether this account is authentic or in part legendary, the mere fact of its repetition for a generation must have been a powerful factor in sustaining faith in Obeah.
In the inquiry of 1788, Stephen Fuller spoke at some length on obeahmen and their practice as witchcraft; the Negroes through the agency of medicine men and their concoctions invoked Obi against one another. Obi, he said, was composed of, or, as we should say, became incarnate in the concoctions of blood, feathers, teeth, broken bottles, grave dirt, and other ingredients mentioned in the act of 1760. Fuller declared that between 1760 and 1775 one Jamaican planter claimed to have lost one hundred slaves from obeah practice; malsuggestion apparently aggravated many varieties of sickness among slaves and prevented their cure. The planter finally discovered what he and the slaves believed to be the main source of the disturbance in an old slave woman who practiced witchcraft. She was sold to the Spaniards. Slaves were in the habit of negotiating with the “witches” to “set obi” on their enemies; vials or little coffins of weird mixtures were planted with a formal curse at the gate or in proximity to the enemy’s hut. As soon as the cursed Negro learned that “obi was set on him,” by the power of mal-suggestion, he grew sick and often died. 194 Slaves were generally affected with maladies and it is not unlikely that their diseases were aggravated by “obeah” and often proved fatal. That similar conditions prevailed among the Negroes of Barbadoes is evidenced in a report from the council of the island which was read in the inquiry of 1788. 195
Belief in obeah considerably weakened among British Negroes in the nineteenth century, particularly in the period following the abolition of the African trade. Yet in 1816 Lewis gave several instances of Obeah practice among his slaves in Jamaica. “Not above ten months ago,” he wrote, “my agent was informed that a Negro of very suspicious manners and appearance was harboured by some of my people on the mountain lands. He found means to have him surprised, and on examination found upon him a bag containing a great variety of strange materials for incantations; such as thunder stones, cats ears, the feet of various animals, human hair, fish bones, the teeth of alligators, & c.: he was conveyed to Montego Bay; and no sooner was it understood that this old African was in prison, than depositions were poured in from all quarters from Negroes who deposed to having seen him exercise his magical arts, and in particular, to his having sold such and such slaves medicines and charms to deliver them from their enemies; being, in plain English, nothing else than rank poisons. He was convicted of Obeah upon the most indubitable evidence. The good old practice of burning has fallen into disrepute; so he was sentenced to be transported, and was shipped off the island, to the great satisfaction of persons of all colours–white, black, and yellow.” 196 Lewis relates the story of another slave named Pickle who, during an illness in the hospital, accused another Negro named Edward of “obeahing” him. It seems that Pickle had been robbed and went to Edward for magic aid in recovering the stolen goods. The latter had gone at night into the bush and gathered the plant whangra, which he had boiled in an iron pot on a fire of leaves over which “he went puff, puffie, and said the sautee-sautee,” and then had cut the whangra root into four pieces, three to bury at the plantation gates, and one to burn; and to each of these three pieces he gave the name of a Christian. Edward had claimed that this procedure would help him find his goods; but instead Pickle said he had immediately felt this pain in his side, and was sure that, instead of using Obeah to find his goods, Edward had used it to ill him. In this case the other slaves thought Edward was falsely accused, and the master finally overcame Pickle’s unhealthy imagination and he recovered. 197 Another slave named Bessie had four babies who died one after the other and she herself developed the horrible disease of cocoa-bay. Her interpretation of her troubles was that, because she had betrayed a slave named Adam in his attempt to poison the agent, Adam cursed her and with the aid of Obeah brought these afflictions upon her. 198 Obeahmen seem often to have been implicated in insurrections; thus in 1816 a Negro who had plotted a massacre of whites and had escaped from gaol was found concealed in the hut of a notorious obeahman. 199 From such instances it would not be unnatural for an observer to identify Obeah with the devil; yet many slaves at this period referred to Christ and his heavenly father as “White Obeah.” 200
Some West Indian vegetable poisons were known to the Negroes and commonly, though not always skillfully, used to coerce nature and man. An obeahman once gave a slave woman cook certain ingredients as “a charm to make her massa good to her.” Not knowing them to be poison, she put them in his coffee; but he escaped by serving his two bookkeepers first, to both of whom it proved fatal. 201 The gall of an alligator dried and reduced to powder made a very dangerous poison which the Negroes skillfully used as such. 202
Burials among the Negroes were made in their own gardens , preceded by wakes, and attended with strange and fantastical ceremonies. Nothing was so ruinous to the health and morale of slaves, according to William Beckford, as the wild dancing and excitement that characterized their wakes. No such scenes of tumult and intemperance occurred at the funerals of Christian slaves. 203 If the corpse was that of an adult, they consulted it as to where it wished to be carried, attempting various directions before the right one was somehow revealed; they often staggered under the weight of a coffin that was seemingly bewitched; sometimes it insisted on approaching but refused to pass the hut of its supposed enemy. The deceased were survived by ghosts or “duppies.” The duppies of loved ones and friends inspired no fear, but Negroes were terrified by the duppies of their adversaries who registered their presence at opportune moments in hard knocks on the head. The duppies of white people also might take revenge on offending Negroes; such
an explanation was offered for the epileptic fits of one of Lewis’s slaves. 204 Once a Negro, who murdered his master, cut off one of his ears on the supposition that he never would be haunted by his spectre. 205 Belief in ghosts implied, of course, a confidence that the soul survived death. Among the slaves who had come from Africa it was generally believed that at death their spirits were translated to a life of joy in their native land; suicides among new arrivals were often explained on this assumption, but seasoned Negroes seldom or never acted upon it, and with the abolition of the African trade the fancy seemed to have disappeared. 206
The existence of anything even approaching a rational philosophy; a benevolent principle or deity not of themselves that made for righteousness; or the union of religion and ethics,–all such concepts were foreign to the consciousness of the African, whose spiritual outlook was primitive animism of a very low order. That eighteenth century Englishmen, planters for the most part only nominally Anglicans, should have exhibited no desire to acquaint their slaves with the Christian epic, its rich mythology, its way of life, and mode of redemption from fear and ugliness is not surprising. The white settlers were themselves apparently absorbed almost completely in a quest for wealth that left them indifferent to things of the spirit and wholly incapable of transmitting ideals. Nor did they see any reason for supporting such leaders as from time to time attempted the noble adventure of touching the African with the idealism of Christ.
Among early Christian evangelists who tried to carry the gospel to Jamaica was George Fox, founder of the English Quakers. He visited Barbadoes in 1671 for three months, held meetings among the slaves on several plantations, described the better way of life, and exhorted them to be obedient to their masters and governors. But he found that many of the planters and overseers themselves needed Christianizing as much as their slaves; “they are, many of them,” he said, “debauched and wicked.” Of the planters who were Quakers, he wrote again in his journal: “I desired them also that they would cause their overseers to deal mildly and gently with their Negroes, and not use cruelty towards them, as the manner of some hath been and is; and that after certain years of servitude, they would make them free.” 207 Fox left Barbadoes in January 1672, but his influence was perpetuated among his followers who held meetings at which the gospel was preached to many slaves during the ensuing years. The planters became alarmed and, in 1676, the legislature passed an act forbidding slaves to attend Quaker meetings. 208 Slaves belonging to Quakers who were arrested at such meetings were confiscated by the state, one-half their value to go to the informer and one-half to the colony; if the slave did not belong to a Quaker, he was returned to his master, but any one could bring action against any Quaker present for ten pounds sterling for each Negro present: one-half for the informer and one-half for the state. Nor should any Quaker preach in Barbadoes who had not resided in the island twelve months, indicating, evidently, that the missionaries to the slaves were itinerant preachers from England or other colonies. Dissenters were also forbidden to teach pupils or keep schools in the island. “This was a precaution,” says a colonial historian, “perhaps not impolitic in a colony, where labour was of more utility than learning.” 209
The Anglicans were long indifferent to the spiritual welfare of the slaves, though occasionally a clergyman felt real concern about them. Thus in 1680, Morgan Godwin, an Anglican minister of Virginia, published an account of his visit to Barbadoes and gave this enlightening report on the opinion of planters toward Christianizing slaves: “It having been my lot since my arrival upon this Island, to fall sometimes into Discourses touching the necessity of Instructing our Negroes and other Heathen in the Christian Faith, and of Baptizing them (both which I observed were generally neglected;) I seldom or never missed of opposition from some one of these three sorts of People. The first, Such, as by reason of the Difficulty and Trouble, affirmed it not only impractical, but also impossible. The second, Such, who lookt upon all Designs of that Nature, as too much favouring of Popish Supererrogation, and not in the least Expedient or Necessary. The third, Such (and these I found the most numerous) who absolutely condemned both the Permission and the Practice thereof as destructive to their Interest, tending to no less Mischief than the overthrow of their Estates, and the ruine of their Lives, threatening even the utter Subtersion of the Island, Who therefore have always been watchful to secure the Door, and wisely to prevent all such mischievous Enterprizes.” Such planters tried their utmost to ridicule the idea of evangelization and discourage the ministers. 210
The established church finally, however, in 1707, gave what appears to be its earliest official recognition 211 to the aspiration of such clergymen as Godwin in an instruction requiring its clergymen in the West Indies “to instruct all free persons of colour and slaves who may be willing to be baptized and informed in the tenets of the Christian religion.” 212 But the ecclesiastical machinery for the achievement of so worthy an ideal was hopelessly inadequate throughout the eighteenth century. The total number of Anglican ministers in all the British West Indies as late as 1784 amounted to only about thirty-three; 213 some parishes were without ministers, and the islands more recently acquired from France had little or nothing in the way of an Anglican establishment. The parish registers, nevertheless, in the late eighteenth century occasionally record the baptism of slaves en bloc into the Church of England. Thus in St. Andrew’s parish, Jamaica, in 1780 four slaves of the Duchess of Chandos were baptized on Feb. 8; on May 5, 1790, five slaves of Simon Taylor, the wealthiest Jamaican of his time, were baptized; on September 9, 1803, eighteen slaves of Mona estate were baptized; and on July 15, 1815, twenty-nine men, twenty-seven women, eight boys, and nine girls, all slaves, were baptized on Fair Hill plantation. 214 To attach much in the nature of spiritual or ethical value to such figures, however, seems unwarranted from what we infer about the spirit of masters and clergymen and the capacity of the Negroes themselves. Occasionally, as in 1760, a planter was sincere and earnest in his attempt to Christianize his slaves, while the latter were unresponsive. 215 Reverend James Ramsay went to the West Indies about 1766 to convert the slaves, but his reception was much the same as Morgan Godwin encountered in the previous century. “But inconceivable,” said Ramsay of his own experience, “is the listlessness with which he was heard, and bitter was the censure heaped on him in return”; overseers felt that he was undermining plantation discipline; no master would aid him; even white people left his services because of the interest he displayed in slaves. “In short, neither were the slaves, at that time, desirous of being taught, nor were their masters inclined to encourage them.” 216 Ramsay told of a planter
who, about 1770, instructed his overseer to employ a clergyman to baptize, instruct, and administer Christian burial to his slaves. But the functions were performed in a heartless, perfunctory fashion and seemed to accomplish no good; the minister confessed he was working solely for the fees attached to the office–a cask of rum worth eight pounds and a salary of twenty pounds a year. 217 In general, the evidence sustains the verdict that “Religion is not deemed necessary to qualify a slave to answer any purpose of servitude.” 218
The periods when Negroes were more receptive to the efforts of evangelists were those following natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. In 1772, for example, a dreadful hurricane swept away much of their belongings. In their distress it was noticed that they became industrious in their little concerns, acquired a keener relish for property, improved in behavior, and were admitted in large numbers to baptism. 219 A cycle of general decency and order, attended with revivals, seemed to be the normal sequel to natural catastrophes.
The apparently greater results of missionary work among the slaves in the foreign West Indies did not go unnoticed by certain British observers who, frequently from mundane motives, often added their approval and urged planters to recognize the utility of Christianizing Negroes. Governor Thomas Robinson of Barbadoes in 1747 called attention to the extent to which French priests admitted slaves to confession and persuaded them to believe they were Christians; “By which Confession,” he added, “they keep a strong Hand over them against their Revolting, or rebelling against their Masters.” 220 Ramsay attributed the better cooperation of French slaves to the same cause, and believed the English neglected a valuable policy. 221 Charles Spooner, the Leeward
Islands planter, said of French slaves that “tho’ they have as many vices as Ours, they are more tractable and easier managed, and they value themselves on being baptized.” 222 This judgment is confirmed by the Reverend James Stuart, a loyalist South Carolinian who traveled in the West Indies after the outbreak of the American Revolution. At Guadaloupe he said the French were less severe and were on better terms with their slaves; the same was true in Santa Cruz where the Danish government punished severity by putting the plantation of a cruel planter into the hands of trustees. Of Santa Cruz Stuart remarked: “I observed that great Numbers of the Negroes went to the Meetings of Moravians, and I understood that their Attendance at those Meetings, not only did not contribute to retard their Business, but that it made them more orderly, and their Masters and Mistresses were always pleased that their Negroes should attend those Meetings. It appeared to me that the Government of Santa Cruz, being arbitrary, it operated as a check upon the Planters.” 223 Stuart, evidently, would have accepted Adam Smith’s view on the advantages of slaves under a benevolent absolutism. Harry Gandy, who had engaged in the slave trade at Santa Cruz in 1758 and 1762, also declared that Moravian missionaries, by converting slaves, had rendered them better servants, in consequence of which they were better treated. 224 William Beckford, likewise, was of the opinion that because French slaves were generally Christianized they were more obedient, more attached, quieter, and happier than Jamaican slaves; the scenes of tumultuous dancing and intemperance that characterized most funerals among English Negroes were not allowed among Christian slaves. 225
Such was the religious situation among the slaves of the French and Danish West Indies, as interpreted by English observers. That Haytian Negroes derived any permanent
benefit from Catholicism, however, either in the art of individual or social living, is doubtful, in the light of their general reversion to practical barbarity in the nineteenth century. But the lesson which British writers drew from the foreign islands was that the evangelization of the Negroes was highly profitable in returns of efficiency, social stability, and contentment, or at least resignation to fate. Beckford put it in his bald, stoical fashion: “Let him [the slave] be taught to reverence God; and then his duty to his master may be made efficient–his labour easy–his life comfortable, and his end resigned.” 226 For the most part, however, English planters had done little or nothing to tap the economic, social and political values inherent in Christianity. Whether this was due to stupidity, or a shrinking from hypocricy, or because such values were less inherent in Protestantism, or all combined, remains a subject for reflection. At any rate, English planters before the last quarter of the eighteenth century generally discouraged their slaves from going to church. 227 “No missionaries of the established Church have come hither to our knowledge,” reads a memorial from the council of Barbadoes in 1788. 228 Stephen Fuller, speaking for Jamaica the same year, said that practically no attention had been paid to the conversion of Negroes; some Mandingo Negroes retained vestiges of Mohammedanism. A few Moravians,he concluded, had attempted the only missionary work. 229
No sketch of religious history in the colonies would be complete without some account of the spiritual efforts of the dissenting sects in behalf of Negroes, at first attempted as they were in the face of brutal opposition and prosecuted in obscurity under great hardships. To the Quaker, Moravian, and Methodist, Christianity was no mere Tool for the subordination and subtle exploitation of a sernile race; it implied, on the contrary, a recognition that the African’s life was precious and that, through Christian virtue, he possessed the latent capacity for spiritual values, noble living, ultimate freedom, and that there could be no joy except in the task of redeeming to sanity and beauty lives that were imprisoned in ugliness and fear. It was, in the highest sense, the conception of an artist with an unconquerable imagination, even assuming, as evangelists did, that the dream would come true only in another world. It was the presence of such faith and persistence in the disciples of Fox, Godwin, Zinzendorf, and Wesley who went to the islands, that redeems West Indian history from being almost wholly a narrative of economic growth and decay with nothing of abiding value. The Quakers, as we have seen, were perhaps the earliest to share in the quest of the unearthly ideal, but their numbers were few, their organization and method ineffective, and there was little in the way of numbers to reward the purity and elevation of their motives.
The Moravians were perhaps equally zealous and more successful. It was in February, 1754, that two members of the Moravian church in England, Barham and Foster, who owned plantations in Jamaica, asked for missionaries to instruct their four hundred slaves. Zinzendorf hesitated at first to make the adventure, but consented when Zacharias George Caries volunteered to go and the two proprietors promised their support. In October, Caries started from England with two companions. Foster and Barham kept their promise, providing generously and granting a piece of land for the mission which was named Carmel. Other planters encouraged the missionaries and urged their Negroes to give heed to them. Other missionaries soon followed, including Henry Rauch from America, who later became superintendent of the field. Many were baptized. Emmaus, another mission, was added to Carmel, and other missions were established at the plantations called Boyne, Island, and Mesopotamia.. Unfortunately, differences of opinion among the missionaries arose as to the period of probation desirable before church membership and the confidence of the slaves was seriously disturbed. 230 Moreover, the estate at Carmel
was operated with slave labor, a fact that seemed to compromise the missionaries and limit the number of converts. Caries was succeeded by Frederick Schlegel, Samuel Church, Nathaniel Brown, Joseph Jackson, and Thomas Ellis. The climate proved costly to the missionaries, Negro converts often relapsed into barbarism, and by 1804 the number of baptisms amounted to only nine hundred and thirty-eight. 231
In Antigua it was the Methodists who, apparently, under a preacher named Gilbert who died in 1747, introduced the evangelical movement. 232 But the Methodists were soon followed, in 1756, by Moravians from Saint Thomas under the leadership of Samuel Isles. The latter was well received by the governor and several of the planters; his first convert was baptized in 1757 after which his success grew rapidly. In 1760 a plot of land was purchased in the neighborhood of St. John where a permanent Moravian mission was established. 233 Isles died in 1764 and was succeeded in 1769 by Peter Brown of Pennsylania who became the second founder of the mission. In services marked by genuine love and faith in the redemptive power of the gospel, he visited the huts of the slaves and fraternized with them in the fields during the mid-day rest. In 1771, Brown was joined by Benjamin Brookshaw from Fulneck, England, and somewhat later by John Meder, a Livonian, also from Fulneck. Native assistants were trained for evangelism, and in 1774, land for a second mission was bought at Bailyhill which, in 1782, was exchanged for a location at Gracehill. The mission was strengthened in 1776 with the addition of the fine personality of Samuel Watson. Brown died in 1791 and Watson in 1792, the latter’s funeral being attended by over two thousand persons of all colors and ranks. The number of converts increased during the years 1769 to 1792 from 14 to 7400, the majority of whom were baptized. 234
The success of the Moravians and of the Methodists who cooperated with them was generously recognized by adherents of various shades of opinion. 235 The morals of the Negroes improved, and even the former hostility of many planters gave way to encouraging support, and the movement spread rapidly to St. Christopher, Barbadoes, and Jamaica. 236 In 1777, John Gardiner, a planter and solicitor of St. Christopher, invited Moravian missionaries from Antigua to come and instruct his slaves. He secured the approval of the governor and preaching began at Basseterre and at Palmetto Point, the estate of Gardiner. The converts were won by Gottwald and Schmeller; the latter visited about fifty plantations, and by the close of the eighteenth century the number of Moravian Negroes in St. Christopher numbered more than two thousand. 237
In Barbadoes the Moravian Mission was started at Bunkershill, in 1765, by John Wood and Andrew Rittansberger; but when the latter died it was for a time suspended. The mission was revived in 1767 by Brookshaw who was soon joined by Bennet. The former was transferred to Antigua and the latter died in 1772, leaving but one missionary in Barbadoes. The hurricane of 1780 destroyed the ill-fated mission. It was revived, however, by John Montgomery in 1784 at which time there were only fourteen communicants. In 1794, the mission was moved to an eleven acre plot called Sharon, near Bridgetown. Before his death in 1791, Montgomery had also extended the movement to Tobago. 238 In none of the islands, however, did the Moravians attain the success they achieved in Antigua.
The effect of this whole evangelical movement is difficult to measure in quantitative terms; even the numbers of Negroes who became nominal Christians in the period of slavery was small. Nor did their mode of life undergo any change that impressed contemporaries as remarkable. “For my own part,” said Monk Lewis in 1816, “I have no hope of any material benefit arising from these religious visitations made at quarterly intervals. It seems to me as nugatory as if a man were to sow a field with horse-hair, and expect a crop of colts.” 239 The nineteenth century, nevertheless, saw a steady advance in the number of missions and a widening of Moravian educational facilities. 240 That British West Indian Negroes are today less subject to revivals of obeah practice or vooduism than French speaking Negroes has been observed by English resident officials, and is evidence of a gradual improvement in Negro morale for which missionary activity was probably at least in part responsible. Furthermore, the reaction of the evangelical movement on the established church was not unlike what occurred in England itself; from a state of coma the Anglican clergy were roused into an unprecedented activity. In Manchester parish alone from 1817 to 1823, under the pastorate of Bridges, the Jamaican historian, 9547 slaves were baptized and 2187 marriages solemnized. 241 Finally, the quest for spiritual values both in England and the colonies did not leave the souls of planters themselves untouched. Accompanying the abolition of the slave trade there came, as we have noticed, a more humane spirit in the administration of plantation affairs. The religious movement, notwithstanding the narrow dogmatism of its theology, stimulated a sincere attempt to translate the more or less doctrinaire humanitarianism of the late eighteenth century into terms of Christian living. Its results tended in the long run to validate the faith that primitive races are not incapable of improvement, and that social progress, even in the tropics, is registered, not in terms of sugar production, but in nurturing the capacity for sane and clean living. 242
1. Edward Gibbon Wakefield, View of the Art of Colonization, ed. Lond., 1849, pp. 328-9. “It was the cheapness of land that brought African slaves to Antigua and Barbadoes; and it is a comparative dearness of land, arising from the increase of population in those small islands, which has made them an exception from the general rule of West Indian impoverishment in consequence of the abolition of slaver before land was made dear.” Cf. pp. 322-330.
2. Josiah Child in 1695 estimated the ratio between blacks and whites in the islands at 8 or 10 to 1 and recognized the effect on England. “We may reckon,” he says, “that for Provisions, Cloaths, and household goods, Sea-men, and All others employed about materials for Building, Fitting, and Victualling of Ships, Every Englishman in Barbadoes or Jamaica creates employment for four men at home.”–Discourse on Trade, ed. 1718, p. 190. Recognitions of the mutual dependence of the African trade and the sugar trade pervade contemporary literature and correspondence, e.g., Petition of Merchants and Planters to the Commons, Mar. 14, 1738, Colonial Office, 152: 23, X52; Representation of Yeamans, Chas. Dunbar, and Souleger, Apr. 2, 1734, Ibid., 23, V, 8, 9; Importance of Sugar Colonies to Gt. Britain, 1745, p. 18; Hippesley, Essays, 1764, pp. 17-18;Proceedings of Assembly of Jamaica on the Sugar and Slave Trades, 1792, p. 13; London Morning Post, Nov. 22, 1865; Wm. Reed, Hist. of Sugar, 1866, pp. V, 53.
3. Reed, Hist. of Sugar, Lond., 1866, pp. 53-54. The decline of sugar production in Jamaica which was largely coincident with the emancipation movement is indicated by following annual export of hogsheads of sugar :
1805 160,353 hogsheads
A general political and social deterioration accompanied this decay of the basic industry. Reed, 55-60 et seq. For an account of a general strike of free Negroes in Jamaica in 1838 see the London Morning Post, Nov. 22, 1865. The Negroes struck for a wage increase. The young canes were choked with weeds and rotted in the ground. Estate after estate went out of cultivation; others were sold at a merely nominal price but long remained useless for want of continuous labor.
4. J. S. Mill, Princ. Pol. Econ., ed. 1871, I, 308.
5. Bryan Edwards, West Indies, 1793, II, p. 131; Lucien Peytraud, L’Esclavage aux Antillles francaises, Paris, 1897, p. 456.
6. “The planting of sugar and tobacco can afford the expence of slave cultivation. The raising of corn , it seems, in the present times, cannot. In the English colonies of which the principal produce is corn , the far greater part of the work is done by freemen. . . . In our sugar colonies on the contrary, the whole work is done by slaves, and in our tobacco colonies a very great part of it. The profits of a sugar plantation in any of our West Indian colonies are generally much greater than those of any other cultivation either in Europe or America: And the profits of a tobacco plantation, though inferior to those of sugar , are superior to those of corn . .. . Both can afford the expence of slave cultivation, but sugar can afford it still better than tobacco . The numbers of Negroes accordingly is much greater, in proportion to that of whites, in our sugar than in our tobacco colonies.”-Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, ed. Cannon, I, 365. Cf. Mill’s observation: “In the rich and underpeopled soil of the West India Islands, there is just as little doubt that the balance of profits between free and slave labour was greatly on the side of slavery, and that the compensation granted to slave-owners for its abolition was not more, perhaps even less, than an equivalent for their loss.”-J. S. Mill, Princ. Pol. Econ., ed. 1871, I, 309. Cf. Nieboer, Slavery, p.429. Slavery, in its economic aspects, seems to have been ill comprehended by economists prior to Smith, as, e.g., Sir James Stewart, Inquiry into the Principles of Pol. Econ., 1767, I, 169.
7. Postlethwayt, The African Trade, the great Pillar, etc. Lond., 1745, pp. 13-14.
8. “Near four Months are now elapsed since the Commencement of the Stamp Duty, and it is with a peculiar Joy of Satisfaction that I am able to acquaint yr Lordships all here has been Quiet and Easy: A Ready obedience has been paid to the Act of the British Parliament, which does honor to the Inhabitants; and your Lordships Sense of Justice will I am assured induce you to represent to his Majesty in proper terms this repeated Instance of the Dutiful and Loyal Conduct of the Inhabitants of Barbados: especially as their North American Correspondents have sparred neither Threats, or entreaties to persuade us to imitate their outrageous and Rebellious Conduct.”-Gov. Charles Pinfold to Board of Trade, Feb. 21, 1766, C. 0., 28: 32, Ff68. The Jamaicans were accustomed to a self-imposed stamp tax on legal documents. Act of Dec. 19,.1760, C. 0., 139: 21, No. 28.
9. Ligon, History of Barbadoes, Lond., ed. 1657, p. 54.
10. Gov. Thomas Robinson to B. T., Feb. 20, 1746/7, C. 0., 28: 27, Bb57.
11. Channing, Hist. U. S., II, 390; Logan, Hist. Upper S. C., I, 182; Schaper, Sectionalism in S. C., p. 292. Schaper informed Channing that the records at Columbia, S. C., contain much information on this subject.
12. Parl. Hist., XIX, 62.
13. Act signed by Gov. Trelawny, May 8, 1741, C. 0., 139: 15, no number.
14. Edwards, West Indies, 1793, ed. 1801, II, 45.
15. A. B. Ellis, Hist. of the Gold Coast, Lond., 1893, p. 94.
16. Edwards, West Indies, 1793, ed. 1801, II, 83-84.
17. A.B. Ellis, op. cit., p. 95.
18. Peter Beckford and Lewis Galdy, agents, to Roy. African Co., Nov. 6, 10, 12, 1707, R. A. Co. Papers, 8, f. 53.
19. Patrick Thomson to R. A. Co., Barbadoes, June 12, 15, 1714, R. A. C., 8, f. 158.
20. John Huffam to R. A. Co., Oct. 6, 1708, R. A. C., 8, f. 79.
21. J. Stewart and J. Wright to R. A. Co., Jamaica, May 22, 1714, R. A. C., I, f. 158.
22. Thomas Trant to R. A. Co., Antigua, Mar. 6, 1713/14, R. A. C., 8, f. 148.
23. In 1816, M. G. Lewis, Journal, 1834, p. 190.
24. Pitman, Devel. of the British W. I., Appendices.
25. Long Papers, Brit. Mus. Add. MSS., 12,431, ff. 223-224.
26. Long Papers, Brit. Mus. Add. MSS., 12,431, f. 224.
27. Mary H. Kingsley, West African Studies, Lond., 1901, pp. 290-293. For an illuminating comparison of Negro life in Africa and America see also J. A. Tillinghast, The Negro in Africa and America, 1902.
28. W. P. Livingstone, Black Jamaica, Lond., 1899, p. 49.
29. Hugh Dalrymple, testimony to B. T., Feb. 18, 1788, B. T., 6: 9, p. 13.
30. Wm. Devaynes, testimony to B. T., Mar. 22, 1788, Ibid., p. 446.
31. Thomas Poplett, testimony to B. T., Mar. 29, 1788, Ibid., pp. 522-523.
32. Stephen Fuller, testimony to the Board of Trade, Apr. 1, 1788, B. T., 6: 10, p. 41.
33. Sir Wm. Young, A Tour through … Barbados, etc., Lond., 1801, pp. 289-90.
34. Hans Sloane, Voyage to . . . Jamaica, Lond., 1707, I, p. xlviii.
35. William V. Beckford, Negroes in Jamaica, Lond., 1788, p. 44.
36. M. G. Lewis, Journal, 1834, pp. 112-113.
37. Richard Roughley, Planter’s Guide, 1823, pp. 79-80.
38. Wm. Beckford, Negroes in Jamaica, Lond., 1788, p. 87.
39. Roughley, pp. 81-86.
40. Roughley, p. 87 et seq.
41. M. G. Lewis, Journal, 1834, p. 200.
42. Act of Barbadoes,Jan. 6, 1708/9, C. 0., 30: 1; Hall, Acts of Barbadoes, Lond., 1764, No. 116.
43. Lewis, Journal, p. 74.
44. Roughley, pp. 87, 95-99.
45. Gov. Pinfold to Rodney, May 3, 1762, Rodney Papers, 8; Kate Hotblack, Chatam’s Col. Pol., p. 65
46. Roughley, pp. 100-102.
47. Roughley, pp. 102-103.
48. Roughley, pp. 103-109.
49. Roughley, pp. 110-112.
50. Roughley, pp. 87, 113-116.
51. Ibid., p. 117.
52. Roughley, pp. 118-127.
53. Frank Cundall, Historic Jamaica, Kingston, 1916, p. 318.
54. Gov. Pinfold to Pitt, Barbadoes, Nov. 15, 1761, C. 0. 152: 46; Kate Hotblack, Chatham’s Col. Policy, p. 64.
55. Edward Long to Lord Wakingham, Mar. 16, 1787, Long Papers, Brit. Mus. Add. MSS., 12,404, f. 405. William Beckford mentions “jobbers” who rented slaves at 15 pence a day, even for new Negroes, and says that planters very generally hired such labor. Slaves suffered under this system. Beckford, Negroes in Jamaica, 1788, pp. 94-5.
56. The slave codes of Barbadoes are given in Richard Hall’s Acts of Barbadoes, Lond., 1764; the Jamaican code of 1792 is in Edwards, West Indies, Vol. II, 187-225 (ed. 1819).
57. Sir Wm. Young, A Tour through . . . Barbadoes, etc., 1791-2, Lond., 1801, p. 295.
58. M. G. Lewis, Journal (1816), Lond., 1834, p. 110.
59. Ibid., pp. 107-108.
60. Importance of the Sugar Colonies to Great Britain, by a Jamaican Resident, Lond., 1745, p. 21.
61. Stephen Fuller before the Board of Trade, Apr. 1, 1788, B. T., 6: 10, p. 13.
62. Charles Lesley, Hist. of Jamaica, Lond., 1740, p. 322.
63. M. G. Lewis, pp. 81-82, 105-106.
64. Lewis, p. 110.
65. In addition to the authorities cited, particularly valuable treatments of plantation management are given in William Belgrove, Treatise upon Husbandry and Planting, Boston, 1755; Samuel Martin, Essay upon Plantership, 4th ed., London,1765; Edward Long, History of Jamaica, 3 vols., London, 1774; J. B. Moreton, Manners and Customs in the West Indies, London, 1790; Edwards, West Indies, London, 1793, especially Books IV and V in Vol. II; and U. B. Phillips’ valuable article, “A Jamaica Slave Plantation ” (1792-6) in Am. Hist. Rev., XIX, 543-568 (Apr. 1914).
66. Long, undated MS., Brit. Mus. Add. MSS., 18960, p. 38.
67. Auberteuil, Considerations sur l’etat present de la colonie francaise de Saint Domingue, . . ., Paris, 1776, I, pp. 130-146.
68. June 24, 1788, Public Record Office, London, B. T., 6: 10, p. 665.
69. Capt. W. Skerret, 19th Foot, to Ralph Carr, Lucea, Jamaica, June 24, 1788, Hist. MSS. Cor., Rep., XV 10, p. 99.
70. Charles Spooner, testimony, Feb. 25, 1788, B. T., 6: 9, p. 185.
71. Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, Bk. IV, Ch. VII, Pt. II, ed. Canon, II, 88.
72. Acts of Assembly . . . Barbadoes, Apr. 29, 1668, p. 90, No. 178.
73. Act of Aug. 8, 1688, C. 0., 3O: 1, Hall, Acts of Barbados, Lond., 1764, No. 82: “An Act for the Governing of Negroes.”
74. Acts of Oct. 27, 1692, C. 0., 31: 1, Hall, Acts of Barbadoes, Nos. 92, 93. Similar legislation was in force in Antigua, Gov. Hamilton to B. T., Apr. 22,1729, C. 0., 152: 13, Q 26; also in Nevis, Ibid., C. 0., 152: 12, P 101, P 131. In Jamaica, runaway slaves who were caught and not claimed in two months were vested in the Crown. Act of Jamaica, Nov. 27, 1757, C. 0., 139: 19, No. 10.
75. Act of Jamaica, June 11, 1735, C. 0., 139: 14, No. 24.
76. Governor Mathew to B. T., Antigua, Feb. 5, 1736/7, C. 0., 152: 22, W98; Mathew to Popple, May 11, 1737, Ibid., 23, X3.
77. Act of Jamaica, Nov. 25, 1753, C. 0., 138: 17, Acts of 1753, No. 9.
78. M. G. Lewis, Journal (1816), Lond., 1834, p. 165.
79. Wm. Beckford, Negroes in Jamaica, Lond., 1788, pp. 94-95.
80. Ibid., pp. 92-93.
81. M. G. Lewis, Journal, pp. 179-180.
82. Wm. Beckford, Negroes in Jamaica, pp. 96-97.
83. J. Ramsay, Essay on . . . Slaves, Lond., 1784, p. 288.
85. Frank Cundall, Historic Jamaica, p. 341.
86. J. Ramsay, Essay on . . . Slaves in the W. I., Lond., 1784, p. 285.
87. Cundal, op. cit., p. 293.
88. Ramsay, Essay on . . . Slaves, Lond., 1784, pp. 129 note, 286, 292.
89. Wm. Beckford, Negroes in Jamaica, Lond., 1788, p. 91.
90. Daniel McKinnen, A Tour through the British West Indies in the Years 1802 and 1803, Lond., 1804, pp. 68-69.
91. M. G. Lewis, Journal (1816), Lond., 1834, p. 110.
92. Ibid., pp. 201-202.
93. Lawrence Archer, Monumental Inscriptions of B. W. I., p. 342.
94. Cundall, Historic Jamaica, pp. 321, 324-339, and pp. 337-339 for the sources for the history of the Maroons.
95. Hans Sloane, Voyage to Madeira, Jamaica, etc., Lond., 1707, Vol. I, p. Ivii.
96. Oldmixon, America, Lond., 1708, II, 11.
97. Charles Leslie, Hist. of Jamaica, Lond., 1740, pp. 321-322.
98. Ibid., pp. 41-42.
99. Dr. J. Houstoun, Memoirs, Lond., 1747, p. 287. The author had resided in Jamaica.
100. Gov. Byng to Board of Trade, May 14, 1740, C. 0., 23: 25, Aa85.
101. Gov. Thomas Robinson to B. T., Barbadoes, Feb. 20, 1746/7, C. 0., 28: 25, Bb57.
102. Gov. Henry Grenville to Board of Trade, Dec. 14, 1752, C. 0., 28: 30, Dd21.
103. Act of Jamaica, Dec. 14, 1751, C. 0., 139: 17, No. 15.
104. J. Campbell, Candid and Impartial Considerations on the Sugar Trade, London, 1763; T. Falconer to C. G. Chester, May 25, 1767, H. MS. Corn. Rep., xiv (9), p. 300.
105. Wm. Beckford, Negroes in Jamaica, Lond., 1788, pp. 38, 39-42, 80-90.
106. John Braithwaite, testimony, Feb. 21, 1788, B. T., 6: 9, p. 37 et seq.
107. Charles Spooner, testimony, Feb. 25, 1788, B. T., 6: 9, pp. 165-175.
108. Ibid., pp. 176-177.
109. Lawrence-Archer, Monumental Inscriptions of the B. W. I., p. 317.
110. M. G. Lewis, Journal, 203.
111. Ibid., pp. 119, 162.
112. Ibid., pp. 140-141, 231.
113. M. G. Lewis, Journal, pp. 365-366; Cundall, Historic Jamaica, pp. 251-252.
114. Lewis, pp. 128-129.
115. Ibid., p. 155.
116. Ibid., p. 115.
117. Edwards, West Indies, Bk. IV, Chs. I-V, gives the most complete contemporary Picture of Negro life in the West Indies in the late eighteenth century.
118. Richard Ligon, Hist. of Barbadoes, ed. Lond., 1657, p. 47.
119. Richard Blome, Description of Jamaica, Lond., 1672.
120. Hans Sloane, Voyage to Jamaica, Lond., 1707, I, xlviii.
121. John Stewart and John Wright to Roy. Afr. Co., Jamaica, May 29, 1714, Public Record Office, London, R. A. C. Papers 8, f. 161.
122. John Hippesley, Essays, Lond., 1764, p. 15.
123. Ibid., p.6
124. Wm. Hutchinson, agent for Antigua, testimony, May 16, 1788, P. R. 0. London, B. T., 6: 10, p. 478.
125. Memorial of Council and Assembly of Grenada to B. T., read Sept. 23, 1788, B. T., 6: 11.
126. Rev. James Stuart, testimony, June 24, 1788, B. T.,6 : 10, pp. 667-668.
127. J. K. Ingram, Slavery, Lond., 1895, pp. 149, 153.
128. The reference is probably to “Osnaburgs”, coarse linen overalls.
129. Grainger, Essay on West India Diseases, Lond., 1764, pp. 7-13. The humanitarian note is pronounced throughout Grainger’s writings.
130. James Ramsay, Essay on …Slaves,Lond.,11784, p.284.
131. Charles Spooner, planter, testimony, Feb. 25, 1788, B.T., 6:9,pp.181-182.
132. John Braithwaite, testimony, Mar. 11, 1788, B.T.,6:9, p.382 et seq.
133. Cundall, Historic Jamaica, Kingston, 1915, p. 166.
134. Lewis, Journal, pp. 106-107, 171-172.
135. J. Ramsay, Essay on Slaves, Lond., 1784, p. 239.
136. See Alice Spinner, A Study in Colour, Lond., 1894, passim, a fascinating study of Negro habits and taste by the wife of a British officer. Lewis states that Negro women were ever ambitious to become “wives” to white bookkeepers rather than Negroes and have “fair chillen.” The white also could give them more presents. They sometimes deserted Negro husbands to live with white men. “My black page, Cubina, is married; I told him I hoped he had married a pretty woman; why had he not married Mary Wiggins, a pretty mulatto? He seemed quite shocked at the very idea. ‘Oh, Massa, me black, Mary Wiggins sambo; that not allowed.’ Nor can the separation of castes in India be more rigidly observed than that of complexional shades among the Creoles.” Lewis, Journal, pp. 78-79.
137. J. Ramsay, Essay on … Slaves, Lond., 1784, p. 239.
138. Lewis, Journal, pp. 169-170.
139. Cundall, Historic Jamaica, 1915, p. 166.
140. Richard Hill (of Spanish Town), Lights and Shadows in Jamaica Hisory, 1859, p. 63.
141. E. B. Reuter, The Superiority of the Mulatto, in Am. Jour. Sociology, Vol. 23, pp. 85-86. On the color problem in the West Indies see also William Thorp, How Jamaica Solves the Negro Problem, World’s Work, VIII, 408-413; W. P. Livingstone, The West Indian and American Negro, N. Am. Rev., CLXXXV , 647; A. H. Stone, Studies in the American Race Problem, p. 27, and Sir Sidney Olivier, White Capital and Coloured Labour, Lond, 1906.
142. Gov. D. Parry to B. T., Barbadoes, read Oct. 24, 1788, B. T., 6: 11.
143. Sir James Stewart, Inquiry into the Princ. of Pol. Econ., Lond., 1767. I, 167.
144. William Beckford, Remarks upon the Situation of Negroes in Jamaica, Lond., 1788, pp. 24-25.
145. Charles Spooner, testimony, Mar. 1, 1788, B. T., 6: 9, pp. 192-193.
146. Ibid., Feb. 25, 1788, B. T., 6: 9, pp. 179-184. For a contemporary description of jaw-fall see Dr. Benjamin Moseley, Treatise on Tropical Diseaes, Lond., 1788, pp. 509-512. Moseley had a long residence in Jamaica.
147. Cited by James Ramsay, May 31, 1788, B. T., 6: 10, p. 625.
148. Sir George Younge, testimony, May 31, 1788, B. T., 6: 10, pp.588-589.
149. Rev. James Ramsay, testimony, May 31, 1788, Ibid., pp. 614, 619.
150. John Braithwaite, testimony, Mar. 11, 1788, Ibid., 6: 9, p. 387.
151. Long Papers, Brit. Mus. Add. MSS., 12,431, f. 235, also 18,273, p. 98.
152. M. G. Lewis, Journal, pp. 124-125.
153. M. W. Beckwith, Jamaica Anansi Stories, Memoirs Am. Folk Lore Soc., Vol. XVII, N. Y., 1925, p. 176, n. 2; Cundall, Historic Jamaica, Kingston, 1915, p. 166. West India land deeds, in the Yale collection, contain long lists of the names of slaves attached to each estate.
154. Lewis, Journal, p. 126 et passim.
155. Edward Lyttleton, Groans of the Plantations, Lond., 1689, p. 19.
156. The investigations of the Bishop Museum at Honolulu among the native races of the Pacific Islands afford illustrations of sweeping fatalities among natives who were exposed to the simpler maladies of merchants and missionaries.
157. Cf. Walter Bagehot, Econ. Studies, Lond., 1880, ed. 1908, p. 188, on the decay of lower races in contact with advanced societies. Suicides were most frequent among Iboes during seasoning. Wm. Beckford, Negroes in Jamaica, Lond., 1788, p. 23.
158. Acts of Assembly of Barbadoes, p. 140, No. 380.
159. Charles Leslie, Hist. Jamaica, 1740, p. 32; Wm. Beckford, Negroes in Jamaica, Lond., 1788. p. 59; and many other authorities.
160. Inquiry of Feb. 25, 17SS, B. T., 6: 9, pp. 184-185; Dr. Benjamin Moseley, Treatise on Tropical Diseases. Lond., 1788. pp. 509, 512.
161. Inquiry of Apr. 1, 1788, B. T., 6: 10. p. 25.
162. M. G. Lewis, Journal, pp. 96-97.
163. Edward Long at Inquiry of Apr. 28, 1788. 3. T., 6: 10, pp. 191 et seq.
164. Lewis, Journal, p. 215.
165. For descriptions of cocoa-bag and yaws see ibid., p. 208.
166. Charles Spooner at Inquiry, Feb. 25, 1788: B. T., 6: 9, p. 177.
167. Lewis, Journal (1816), p. 63.
168. Ibid., p. 122.
169. Lewis, Journal (1816), p. 204.
170. J. E. Buchner, Moravians in Jamaica, Lond., 1854, p. 15.
171. Bancroft, Hist. U. S., III, 405.
172. Edward Lyttleton, Groans of the Plantations, Lend., 1689, p. 18.
173. Charles Leslie, Hist. Jamaica, Lond., 1740, p. 328.
174. MS. notes of Long, Brit. Mus. Add. MSS., 12,431; Long, Hist. Jamaica, II, 434; Inquiry of 1788, B. T., 6: 10, p. 624. William Beckford believed that the excessive mortality of new slaves was due to their unmerciful exploitation by older slaves to whose instruction they were entrusted. Negroes in Jamaica, Lond., 1788, pp. 27-31.
175. MS. notes of Edward Long, Brit. Mus. Add. MSS., 18,960, p. 38; and 12,431.
176. Ibid., 12,405, f. 357.
177. Inquiry of May 16, i7SS, B. T., 6: 10, p. 445. Spooner (1788) gave the death rate at 6 per cent and birth rate at 4 per cent though he does not distinguish the two classes of slaves, but adds “The New Negroes certainly die in a greater proportion than those that are seasoned.” B. T., 6: 9, p. 179.
178. Long’s MS. note based on a Privy Council report, Brit. Mus Add. MSS., 18,273, p. 94.
179. Ibid., 12,431.
180. Barbadoes Teasury Accounts, B. T., 6: 11, the importations cover the years 1781 to Mar. 13, 1788.
181. William Beckford, Negroes in Jamaica, Lond., 1788, pp. 73-74. In contrast to the humane confession of Beckford compare Stephen Fuller’s callous defense of the methods of British planters on the assumption, probably exaggerated, that the French were doing business on the same principles and were more ruthless: “As the French themselves admit that their Negroes are harder , worked, and worse fed than the Negroes in our Islands, and State the Annual diminution at 1/5th per cent. [D’Auberteuil, I, 68] upon their whole number; whereas we conceive 1/40th to be about the Average which takes place in Jamaica; and as they reckon that all their births do not equal half their deaths, and that 1/3d of all their Guinea or imported Negroes perish in three years [D’Auberteuil, I, 54] from the time of importation, we have good reason to conclude that they require a larger proportion of imported Negroes than our planters do, to keep up the stock.”–Stephen Fuller in the Inquiry of Apr. 1, 1788, B. T., 6: 10, pp. 95-96.
182. John Braithwaite in Inquiry of Mar. 11, 1788, B. T., 6: 9, p. 382.
183. Lewis, Journal, p. 89.
184. Notes in Defense of the Colonies, by a West Indian, Lond., 1826, quoted by Cundall, Historic Jamaica, p. 229.
185. Lewis, Journal, pp. 108-109.
186. J. H. Buchner, Moravians in Jamaica, Lond., 1854, p. 15.
187. For West African fetishism and folk-ways and folk-lore see Andre Ancin, La Guinee francaise, Paris, 1907; W. H. Barker and Cecilia Sinlair, West African Folk-tales, Lond., 1917; Richard C. Bundy, Folk-tales from Liberia, in Jour. Am. Folk-Lore, N. Y., 1919, XXXII, 406-427; Heli Chatelain, Folk-tales of Angola, Mem. Am. Folk-Lore Soc., N. Y., 1894, Vol. I; A. M. H. Christensen, Afro-American Folk-lore, Boston, 1892; Elphinstone Dayrell Folk-stories from Southern Nigeria, West Africa, with introd. by Andrew Lang, Lond., 1910; A. B. Ellis, Tshi-speaking Peoples of the Gold Coast of West Africa, Lond., 1887; Ellis, Ewe-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa, Lond., 1890; Ellis, Yornba-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa, Lond., 1894; D. Elmslie, Folklore Tales of Central Africa (Nyassaland), in Folk-Lore, Lond., 1892, III, 92-110; A C. Hollis, Massi, Oxf., 1905, and Nandi, Oxf., 1909; A. N. Krug, Buhr Tales from Kamerun, in Jour. Am. Folk-Lore, N. Y., 1912. XXV, 106-124; R. N. Nassau, Where Animals Talk. W. African Folk-lore Tales, Boston, 1912; G. M. Theal, Kaffir Folk-lore, Lond., 1882; A.J.N. Tremearne, Hausa Superstitions and Customs, Lond., 1913, and Tailed Head Hunters of Nigeria, Lond., 1912; J. H. Weeks, Stories and other Notes from the Upper Congo, in Folk-Lore, Lond., 1901, XII, 181-189.
188. On fetishism in Hayti see Sir Spencer St John, Hayti, or the Black Republic, Lond., 1884; in the West Indies generally cf. Froude, The English in the West Indies, Lond., 1888. p. 343; Sir Hasketh Bell, Obeah: Witchcraft in the West Indies, Lond., 1893; May Robinson, Obeah Worship in East and West Indies, in Folk-Lore, Lond., 1893, IV, 207-13; Alice Spinner, A Study in Color, London, 1894, Ch. xxiii, for an instance of obeah practice about 1890; W. R. Hall Caine, The Cruise of the Port Kingston, Lond., 1908; W. P. Livingstone, Black Jamaica, Lond., 1899; Sir Harry Johnston, letter in London Times (weekly ed.), Apr. 16, 1909, for a defense of Cuban Negroes against charges of human sacrifice; but. cf. London Evening Standard, Dec. 2, 1913, on recent blood ritual practices in Cuba.
189. The book is entitled Secrets meveilleux de la magie naturelle et cabalistique du Petit Albert, many editions e.g., Lyon, 1668; Geneve, 1704; Lyon, 1729, 1744, 1751, 1758, 1772; Paris, 1815, 1838; Lyon, 1850, 1868. In content the book is very similar to that entitled Admirables secrets du grand Albert and claims to be drawn from the writings of Albert of Bollstadt (1193-1280), the celebrated Dominican scholar. The volume is said to be well known in the French West Indies and Hayti, according to J. S. Udal, Obeah in the West Indies, in Folk-Lore, London (1915), XV, 293-294.
190. J. S. Udal, Obeah, in Folk-Lore (Lond., 1915), XV, 286-295.
191. Letter from unnamed correspondent to Wavel Smith, Sec. of Leeward Islands, Nov. 10, 1736, C. 0., 152: 23, X32.
192. Act of Dec. 18, 1760, C. 0., 139: 21, No. 24.
193. Lewis, Journal, p. 91.
194. Inquiry of Apr. 12, 1788, B. T., 6: 10, pp. 171 et seq., pp. 182-187.
195. Memorial of council of Barbadoes, read Oct. 24, 1788, B. T., 6: 11.
196. Lewis, Journal, pp. 94-95.
197. Ibid., pp. 134-135.
198. Ibid., pp. 145-146.
199. Ibid., p. 236.
200. Ibid., p. 148.
201. Ibid., p. 149.
202. Ibid., p. 196.
203. William Beckford, Negroes in Jamaica, Lond., 1788, pp. 82-83.
204. Lewis, Journal, pp. 97-98.
205. Ibid., p. 82.
206. Ibid., p. 94 Cf. the statement of William Beckford: “I have never known an African Negro express the least reverence by sign or word for a superintending Providence; nor have I ever heard one intimate a hope, (as is the common opinion) that he shall pass after death from a life of slavery to one of ease and happiness in his native country.”–Negroes in Jamaica, Lond., 1788, p. 94.
207. George Fox, Journal, ed. by Norman Penney, Lond., 1901, II, 49.
208. Act of Barbadoes, Apr. 21, 1676, C. 0., 30: 1; also in Richard Hall, Acts of Barbados, Lond., 1764, No. 64.
209. Anon., A Short History of Barbadoes to 1767, Lond., 1768, p. 34.
210. Morgan Godwin, the younger, The Negro’s and Indian’s Advocate, Lond., 1680, pp. 1-2. Godwin, or Godwyn, grandson of Bishop Francis Godwin, flourished in Virginia about 1685; he was a B.A of Christ Church, Oxford, and died in England. Dict. Nat. Biog. 211. J. T. Hamilton, History of the Moravians, Bethlehem, 1900, p. 184.
212. C. 0., 139: 9, parchment 106.
213. Rev. James Ramsay, Essay on …Slaves, Lond., 1784, pp. 265-266. The ecclesiastical establishment consisted of the following parishes and ministers:
St. Christopher 9 parishes supplied by 5 ministers
Barbadoes 11 parishes supplied by 11 ministers
Antigua 6 parishes supplied by 6 ministers
Montserrat 4 parishes supplied by 2 ministers
Nevis 5 parishes supplied by 3 ministers
Grenada largely Catholic 2 ministers
Dominica largely Catholic 2 ministers
St. Vincent. largely Catholic 2 ministers
Tortola ? no fixed minister
Anguilla `the minister has long been dumb for want of maintenance’
Jamaica 19 parishes, but some were without churches or ministers.
214. Cundall, Historic Jamaica, Kingston, 1915, p. 206.
215. Ramsay, op. cit., pp. 156-157.
216. Ibid., p. 178.
217. Ibid., p. 158.
218. Ramsay’s remark in 1784, ibid., p. 166.
219. Ibid., p. 176. The observation has been confirmed by numerous writers in later times.
220. Gov. Thomas Robinson to B. T., Barbadoes, Feb. 20, 1746/7, C. 0., 2S: 27, Bb57.
221. Ramsay, Essay on… Slaves, Lond., 1784, p. 274,
222. Charles Spooner in the Board of Trade’s inquiry of Mar. 29, 1788, B. T., 6: 9, p. 529.
223. Rev. James Stuart in the inquiry of June 24, 1788, B. T., 6:10, pp. 661-663.
224. Harry Gandy in inquiry of Feb. 25, 1788, B. T., 6: 9, p. 52.
225. William Beckford, Negroes in Jamaica, Lond., 1788, pp. 82-83.
226. William Beckford, Negroes in Jamaica, Lond., 1788. p. 99.
227. John Braithwaite in inquiry of Mar. 11, 1788, B. T., 6: 9, p. 389.
228. Memorial to B. T., read Oct. 24, 1788, B. T., 6: 11.
229. Stephen Fuller, Jamaican proprietor, in inquiry of Apr. 1, 1788, B. T., 6: 10, pp. 35 et seq.
230. J. T. Hamilton, History of the Moravians, Bethlehem, 1900, p. 184.
231. Ibid., pp. 271-272; J. H. Buchner, Moraviasn in Jamaica, Lond., 1854, p. 3.
232. Lawrence-Archer, Monumental Inscriptions of the B. W. I., p. 409. The parish church of St. John, Antigua, contains a memorial tablet to Gilbert
233. J. T. Hamilton, op. cit., p. 184.
234. Ibid., pp. 269-270.
235. Charles Spooner in inquiry of 1738 B. T.. 6: 9, p. 185; Hamilton, op. cit., p. 270.
236. Rev. James Ramsay (Anglican), Essay on… Slaves, Lond., 1784, p. 161.
237. Hamilton, op. cit., p. 270.
238. Ibid., pp. 270-271. The Moravians also accomplished an extensive work in the Danish West Indies, at Santa Cruz and St. Thomas, where they maintained a bishop and several ministers and catechists, and had chapels in various places; some planters even had their own private chapels. The Moravians were supported partly from Europe, partly from a plantation which they owned in one of the islands, and by the manual labor of the missionaries themselves.–Rev. James Ramsay, Essay on… Slaves, Lond., 1784, p 161.
239. Lewis, Journal, p. 185.
240. Hamilton, op. cit., p. 369 et. passim; J. H. Buchner, Moravians, Lond., 1854.
241. Cundall, Historic Jamaica, p. 372.
242. For the history of missions in the West Indies and extracts from the correspondence of missionaries see Rev. Thomas Smith, The Origin and History of Missions, continued from 1822 by Rev. J.O. Choules, 2 vols., 4th ed., Bosotn, 1837, I, 63-81 on Moravians; I, Ch. VII on Baptists; II, Ch. II on the Methodists; II, Ch. VII on the Church Missionary Society; II, 232-233 on the Scottish Missionary Society.