HIST 1F96 Lecture Notes - Barbados Slave Code, Cotton Gin, The Overseer
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Slavery in the New World
(Week 10, November 19 th
Slavery in the New World:
Slaves as property.
Organization of plantation labour.
“Rights” of slaves.
Since 1430’s, Portuguese had been trading in Black African slaves.
When New World colonies could no longer rely on Native slavery for labour needs
because of brutal death rates turned to African slaves.
Brazil was the single largest importer accounting for 5 million slaves.
Caribbean colonies were next largest, bringing in approximately 4.5 million African
Conversely, American colonies only imported approximately 500,000 slaves.
Brazil (Portuguese) started with 5 million slaves, had 3 million 250 years later, slaves are
being worked to death.
U.S. has the most slaves on the eve of the Civil War, here they are small players in the
trans-Atlantic slave trade (based on slaves reproducing, slave society growing).
Brazil and Caribbean very similar.
In all three areas, tobacco was the first major staple crop.
Brazil relied upon Native society into late 17th century, whereas Caribbean and American
colonies turned to White indentured servants before settling on African slaves late in
the 17th century.
Eventually sugar became the principle crop grown in Brazil and the Caribbean.
After the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, cotton becomes the leading American
Tobacco (<50 labourers) -> Sugar (500+ labourers) = Cotton (cotton gin, switch to
Slaves as Property:
Upon arriving to the New World, slaves were inspected before being put on the auction
block (often inspected naked leading to sexual abuse, physical humiliation).
Slaves were seen as property (bought, sold, traded, gambled, passed on as inheritance).
Slavery was inherited (children inherited status of their mother).
Was not a crime to murder or rape your slaves.
Slaves could not physically resist their masters, could not testify in courts, could not
verbally or physically assault their masters.
Barbados put forward laws of slaves (Barbados Slave Code).
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