Race and Slavery in British North America. Enslaved Americans in the Chesapeake, the Lower South, and the Northern Colonies

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1 Race and Slavery in British North America Enslaved Americans in the Chesapeake, the Lower South, and the Northern Colonies

2 The Atlantic Slave Trade

3 From Indentured Servants to Enslaved Africans During much of the 17 th Century, indentured servitude and slavery coexisted in the southern and parts of the northern colonies Around 1700 the number of indentured servants begins to decline for 2 reasons Wages rising in Britain due to economic growth/industrialization Contracts shorter European immigrants paying their own way Cost of transatlantic passage falls More voyages Larger, faster ships Slave trade expands, prices fall, become competitive with indenture contracts Colonists wealthier, can afford purchasing slaves

4 Race, Class, and Slavery in the Chesapeake First enslaved Africans arrive in Jamestown in 1619 Experiences of indentured survants and enslaved Africans similar in the early decades work side-by-side on most plantations, overseer might be European or African, possibility of freedom about the same for both More race mixing, intermarriage 25-30% of children born to white women were mixed race Some successful Black freemen purchased indenture contracts and owned black slaves Case of Anthony Johnson, free black man Owned property, sued and was sued, passed estate onto children Granted 250 acre headright for paying transport of 5 people to Virginia Pursued escaped white servant, won damages against white neighbor

5 Race, Class, and Slavery in the Chesapeake What does this tell us about the early Chesapeake? Class often mattered more than race Society characterized by mobility (geography, class) Later Chesapeake - after the 1680s Race & racial identity more significant 1691 Virginia colonial assembly outlaws interracial marriages Less mixing, enslaved tended to be African natives (until 1740s), who did not quickly adopt European ways/languages Association between race and condition of freedom (black = enslaved)

6 Chesapeake Slavery Tobacco and Slavery Gang Labor Tobacco required constant attention from planting to harvest, prompted constant supervision of day-to-day operations Labor intensive, but low skill Planting, topping, worming, suckering, curing Gang labor system develops Masters typically present: Small farms masters labored with slaves and servants, large plantations masters oversaw operations Transition to wheat and grain crops after 1750s, often grown along with tobacco, more skilled work, more time away from plantations Slaves have certain legal rights, treatment and conduct of enslaved governed by law, petty crimes typically left to masters

7 Chesapeake Slavery Robert King Carter (b. ~1663 d. 1732) Planter, Virginia s Neck Corotoman Plantation more than 300,000 acres at its largest Owned more than 1,000 slaves spread over 48 farms Offices: County Court Judge, General Assembly, Governor s Council, Acting Governor ( ) Land Agent for Thomas, Lord Fairfax of the Fairfax Proprietary In/famous for his brutal & authoritarian plantation management Credit: Wikicommons

8 Slavery in the Lower South (South Carolina, Georgia) Two versions of slavery, rural/planation and urban Wealth of Carolina planters meant they were often away, had more managers/underlings for day-to-day oversight Lower South Plantation slavery the Task System: Different crops (rice, Sea Island cotton, indigo), different agricultural cycle, different ways of life Indentured servants uncommon in Carolina Less interaction between races in the fields Rice cultivation intermittent, less labor intensive, more skills involved Task labor system develops More autonomy from the masters on a daily basis Often able to raise own crops, engage in individual economic activity Developed distinctive culture, language, ways of living

9 Slavery in the Lower South Urban slavery in South Carolina and Georgia (Charles Town, later Savannah) Enslaved were often mulattoes/mixed race Greater mobility, skilled or semi-skilled laborers, sometimes literate Movements later restricted by law but often disregarded Men often mechaniks in the shipping, building, and craft industries, women usually house servants Sometimes engaged their own contracts, carried on their own work ( overwork ) Often clothed in current fashions

10 Slavery in the North Chiefly New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania Northern Slavery blended some of the characteristics of slavery in the Chesapeake and the Lower South Most slaves labored in the cities or small farms with their masters Commercial characteristics of northern economy meant both urban and rural slaves tended to be more skilled Farmwork involved processing wheat, managing/slaughtering/processing livestock, lumbering, weaving & clothmaking In cities carpenters, shipwrights, rope makers, sailmakers, coopers, and sometimes high-skill workers: silver- and goldsmiths, cabinetmakers

11 Indentured Servitude in the 18 th Century Typically highly skilled immigrants in the building, fine clothing trades, agriculture From all over Europe: France, Germany, Italy More urban than rural work Contracts were expensive, passage paid by the employer, terms negotiable Sometimes employed in mines & rural manufactures

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