By Richard S. Dunn
Forty years in the past, after booklet of his pathbreaking booklet Sugar and Slaves, Richard Dunn begun a radical research of 2 thousand slaves residing on plantations, one in North the United States and one within the Caribbean. Digging deeply into the data, he has reconstructed the person lives and collective reports of 3 generations of slaves at the Mesopotamia sugar property in Jamaica and the Mount ethereal plantation in tidewater Virginia, to appreciate the starkly diversified kinds slavery may possibly take. Dunn’s attractive fulfillment is a wealthy and compelling background of bondage in very diversified Atlantic international settings.
From the mid-eighteenth century to emancipation in 1834, lifestyles in Mesopotamia was once formed and stunted via lethal paintings regimens, rampant affliction, and dependence at the slave alternate for brand new employees. At Mount ethereal, the place the inhabitants regularly increased till emancipation in 1865, the “surplus” slaves have been offered or moved to far-off paintings websites, and households have been repeatedly damaged up. Over 200 of those Virginia slaves have been despatched 8 hundred miles to the Cotton South.
In the genealogies that Dunn has painstakingly assembled, we will be able to hint a Mesopotamia fieldhand via each degree of her bondage, and distinction her harsh therapy with the fortunes of her rebellious mulatto son and shrewdpermanent quadroon granddaughter. We music a Mount ethereal craftworker via a stormy lifetime of interracial intercourse, break out, and relations breakup. the main points of people’ lives permit us to know the complete adventure of either slave groups as they worked and enjoyed, and finally grew to become free.
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Additional info for A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia
The labor force was heavily male-dominated because Barham’s attorneys had bought 117 new male slaves and only 43 new female slaves since 1762. The concentration of seventy-one young men in the twenty-ﬁve-to-thirtyfour age bracket is especially notable. Most of these young men had been imported very recently, between 1784 and 1786. Relatively few had been born on the estate. Most of the Mesopotamia-born slaves were either too young or too old for heavy work, as the diagram demonstrates, and sugar production would have been almost impossible without the imported workers.
6 Indeed, the Virginia slave population quickly quadrupled through natural increase, and in 1807 the Old Dominion had a larger population of African origin than Jamaica: 380,000 slaves and 30,000 free blacks. To get a ﬁrsthand sense of what population decrease meant for the Jamaica slaves and what population increase meant for the Virginia slaves, we can compare the demographic history of Mesopotamia in western Jamaica with the demographic history of Mount Airy in Tidewater Virginia. At Mesopotamia there were 331 more recorded slave deaths than births between 1762 and 1833, and the owners— Joseph Foster Barham I (1729–1789) and his son Joseph Foster Barham II (1759– 1832)—continually brought in new slaves in order to keep the place going.
The remaining seven all labored at prime jobs for twenty-ﬁve years or Mesopotamia versus Mount Airy: The Demographic Contrast 31 more. Four were especially long-lived, dying between 1802 and 1822, and Phylander was perhaps the most valuable person in this group, since he served for many years as a boiler in the sugar works. The mixed record of these twenty-one Africans would be repeated in future years when other groups of replacement slaves were brought to Mesopotamia. Before leaving Jamaica, Joseph Foster Barham was sufﬁciently concerned about the high slave turnover at Mesopotamia that he ordered the managerial staff to compile annual slave inventories so that he could keep track of changes in the population.
A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia by Richard S. Dunn