Why did a slave society develop in colonial virginia
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Why did a Slave society develop in colonial Virginia? PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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Why did a Slave society develop in colonial Virginia?. Big point!. The shift to a slave society was not inevitable!. The shift to a slave society was not inevitable!.

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Why did a Slave society develop in colonial Virginia?

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Why did a Slave society develop in colonial Virginia?


Big point!

  • The shift to a slave society was not inevitable!


The shift to a slave society was not inevitable!

  • The status of Africans in 17th century Virginia was fluid and ambiguous until the establishment of slave codes at the turn of the 18th century.


Problems in VirginiaProblem #1: Land but no labor!

  • Lots of land!

    • Available and unused, from a English perspective


Problems in VirginiaProblem #1: Land but no labor!

  • Lots of land!

    • Available and unused, from a English perspective

    • Landowning tied to idea of “independence”

      • Landowners had control of their lives and livelihood


Problems in VirginiaProblem #1: Land but no labor!

  • Lots of land!

    • Available and unused, from a English perspective

    • Landowning was tied to idea of “independence”

      • Landowners had control of their lives and livelihood

    • Landlessness equated to “dependence”

      • A tenant was subject to the landlord


Problem #2: Profitable commodity but no labor

  • Plenty of land to grow tobacco and plenty of demand in Europe


Problem #2: Profitable commodity but no labor

  • Plenty of land to grow tobacco and plenty of demand in Europe

    • Demand pushed production

      • 60,000 lbs., in 1620

      • 35 million lbs., in 1700


Tobacco’s popularity exacerbated the labor shortage


Tobacco’s popularity exacerbated the labor shortage

  • Labor intensive crop


Tobacco’s popularity exacerbated the labor shortage

  • Labor intensive crop

  • Many tedious, relatively unskilled, steps

    • Planting

    • Tending

    • Harvesting

    • Drying

    • Packing


Lots of land, profitable crop, but who’s going to work it?

  • How about using Indians?

    • The Spanish did!


Lots of land, but who’s going to work it?

  • Indians?

    • The Spanish did!

  • Didn’t work in Virginia


Lots of land, but who’s going to work it?

  • Indians?

    • The Spanish did!

  • Didn’t work in Virginia

    • Could easily run away, knew the land


Lots of land, but who’s going to work it?

  • Indians?

    • The Spanish did!

  • Didn’t work in Virginia

    • Could easily run away, knew the land

    • Had “military” backing, support of allies


Lots of land, but who’s going to work it?

  • Indians?

    • The Spanish did!

  • Didn’t work in Virginia

    • Could easily run away, knew the land

    • Had “military” backing, support of allies

    • Had suffered depopulation


Lots of land, but who’s going to work it?

  • Indians?

    • The Spanish did!

  • Didn’t work in Virginia

    • Could easily run away, knew the land

    • Had “military” backing, support of allies

    • Had suffered depopulation

    • Too dispersed

      • No encomiendas in British America


A solution: Indentured Servants


Indentured servants

  • An indenture, or contract, to labor in exchange for passage to America.


Indentured servants

  • An indenture, or contract, to labor in exchange for passage to America.

  • Terms ranged from four to seven years


Indentured servants

  • An indenture, or contract, to labor in exchange for passage to America.

  • Terms ranged from four to seven years

  • Few rights, often cruel treatment


  • Why would anyone do this?


  • Why would anyone do this?

  • To escape poverty in England!


Domestic problems in England

  • Population growth


Domestic problems in England

  • Population growth

  • Eviction of tenant farmers


Domestic problems in England

  • Population growth

  • Eviction of tenant farmers

  • Growing poverty and pressure on English cities


Opportunity for aspiring aristocrats

  • Headright system


Opportunity for aspiring aristocrats

  • Headright system

    • 50 acres of land for passage of laborer


Opportunity for aspiring aristocrats

  • Headright system

    • 50 acres of land for passage of laborer

    • Often times ship’s captains transported potential servants and sold them upon arrival


Keeping up with the Byrds

  • William Byrd I

    • To Virginia, 1670


Keeping up with the Byrds

  • William Byrd I

    • To Virginia, 1670

    • Grandfather, a ship’s captain


Keeping up with the Byrds

  • William Byrd I

    • To Virginia, 1670

    • Grandfather, a ship’s captain

    • Collected a substantial amount of “good” land in Virginia through headrights


“Good” land went quickly

  • Wealthy able to grab up land along waterways


“Good” land went quickly

  • Wealthy able to grab up land along waterways

  • The Byrds’ land was along the James and Potomac rivers


“Good” land went quickly

  • Wealthy able to grab up land along waterways

  • The Byrds’ land was along the James and Potomac rivers

  • Advantage to wealthy


But while everything was coming up tobacco, it was not coming up roses!

  • Problems with indentured servants


Problems with indentured servants

  • Runaways


Problems with indentured servants

  • Runaways

  • Rights of Englishmen limited control by masters


Problems with indentured servants

  • Runaways

  • Rights of Englishmen limited control by masters

  • Frustration upon completion of indenture


Frustration upon completion of indenture

  • Little “good” land available

    • Distant from waterways

    • On fringe of English settlement


Moving toward African slavery

  • Precedent in Latin America


Moving toward African slavery

  • Precedent in Latin America

    • Caribbean, Brazil


Moving toward African slavery

  • First African slaves to Jamestown, 1619


African slavery

  • Very limited for most of the 17th century


African slavery

  • Very limited for most of the 17th century

    • More expensive than servants

      • Perpetual servitude


African slavery

  • Very limited for most of the 17th century

    • High mortality among field hands

      • Rigors of work, disease

      • Slavery was a bad investment


African slavery: not a foregone conclusion

  • Up until the last decades of the 17th century, black status in Virginia was fluid.


African slavery: not a foregone conclusion

  • Up until the last decades of the 17th century, black status in Virginia was fluid

    • Free blacks, some who owned servants!


African slavery: not a foregone conclusion

  • Up until the last decades of the 17th century, black status in Virginia was fluid

    • Free blacks, some who owned servants!

    • Black indentured servants


African slavery: not a foregone conclusion

  • Up until the last decades of the 17th century, black status in Virginia was fluid

    • Free blacks, some who owned servants!

    • Black indentured servants

    • Black slaves


Over time, slavery began to make economic sense

  • Increased longevity in colony


Over time, slavery began to make economic sense

  • Increased longevity in colony

    • Slavery began to make sense economically


Over time, slavery began to make economic sense

  • Increased longevity in colony

    • Slavery began to make sense economically

  • Decreased supply of white servants


Over time, slavery began to make economic sense

  • Increased longevity in colony

    • Slavery began to make sense economically

  • Decreased supply of white servants

    • Improved conditions in England


Over time, slavery began to make economic sense

  • Increased longevity in colony

    • Slavery began to make sense economically

  • Decreased supply of white servants

    • Improved conditions in England

    • Other colonies (Pennsylvania, 1681)


Over time, slavery began to make economic sense

  • Increased frustration of former servants

    • Slaves never became free!


When and why race-based slavery?

  • Historians tend to agree that:

    • Indentured servitude as a model


When and why race-based slavery?

  • Historians tend to agree that:

    • Indentured servitude as a model

    • Latin America as a model


When and why race-based slavery?

  • Historians tend to agree that:

    • Indentured servitude as a model

    • Latin America as a model

    • Economic necessity


When and why race-based slavery?

  • Historians tend to agree that:

    • Indentured servitude as a model

    • Latin America as a model

    • Economic necessity

    • African vulnerability in Virginia

      • No rights, no support


When and why race-based slavery?

  • Winthrop Jordan: prejudice/racism led to slavery

    • English pre-disposition toward Africans

      • Negation of white


When and why race-based slavery?

  • Winthrop Jordan: prejudice/racism led to slavery

    • English pre-disposition toward Africans

      • Negation of white

      • Deficient in religion and culture


When and why race-based slavery?

  • Winthrop Jordan: prejudice/racism led to slavery

    • English pre-disposition toward Africans

      • Negation of white

      • Deficient in religion and culture

    • Stereotype: Africans inferior, less than human


Evidence:De facto slavery, 1619-1660

  • 1640, runaway servants

    • Severity of punishment based on race

  • 1646, bill of sale

    • term of service for “Negros” is “forever”

  • 1648, bill of sale

    • Black “servants” more expensive

  • 1660, slave code

    • Blacks legally defined as slaves


When and why race-based slavery?

  • Jordan:

    • Legally defined by the 1660s

    • Original English prejudice reinforced and bolstered by economic need and legal definitions. Slavery by custom became slavery by law.


When and why race-based slavery?

  • Edmund Morgan: slavery led to prejudice/racism

    • Status of blacks ambiguous until late 17th century

    • Lower class whites and blacks enjoyed same rights


Black status ambiguous, fluid

  • Could own property

  • Could sue, testify against, whites

  • Could own servants

  • Class, not race, divided 17th century Virginia


When and why race-based slavery?

  • Morgan:

    • A calculated strategy by elite plantation owners to divide the lower class by promoting white supremacy and black inferiority


When and why race-based slavery?

  • Morgan:

    • A calculated strategy by elite plantation owners to divide the lower class by promoting white supremacy and black inferiority

    • An effort to quell the growing unruliness of frustrated former servants as illustrated by Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676.


Slavery supported legally and socially by 1700

  • Africans equated with slavery


Slavery supported legally and socially by 1700

  • Africans equated with slavery

    • Manumission limited


Slavery supported legally and socially by 1700

  • Africans equated with slavery

    • Slavery and racism reinforced each other

      • blacks are slaves so must be inferior, since they are inferior, it is proper that they be slaves


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