Southern slavery
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Southern Slavery. Indentured Servitude. ½ to ¾ of all new arrivals to the Chesapeake in the 17 th c. were indentured servants—main labor force Most were single, 18-35 and sold for 4-7 years of their labor in return for passage to America and their maintenance and support; 80% were male

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Southern Slavery

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Southern slavery

Southern Slavery


Indentured servitude

Indentured Servitude

  • ½ to ¾ of all new arrivals to the Chesapeake in the 17th c. were indentured servants—main labor force

    • Most were single, 18-35 and sold for 4-7 years of their labor in return for passage to America and their maintenance and support; 80% were male

    • Indentured servants did have basic civil rights of all English subjects  

    • Received freedom after completion indenture

      • got an allowance, but not usually any land

        • created a class of discontent young men w/o land

        • move into the backcountry—continued conflict with Indians


Bacon s rebellion 1676

Bacon’s Rebellion, 1676

  • 1676, back-country unrest and political rivalries created a major conflict in Virginia

  • The new back-country gentry was at odds in crucial ways with its tidewater counterparts:

    • isolated geographically from the colonial government

    • in constant danger of attack from the Indians

    • Property owners in the backcountry disliked Berkeley’s attempts to hold the line of settlement steady so as to avoid antagonizing the Indians.

  • Indians in western Va. upset with the continual movement of whites into their lands.

    • 1675, Doeg Indians raided a western plantation and killed a white servant.

      • Bands of local whites retaliated indiscriminately


Bacon s rebellion

Bacon’s Rebellion

  • Nathaniel Bacon demanded that Gov. William Berkeley send the militia out to pursue Indians

    • Berkeley refused, and instead ordered the construction of several new forts in the west

  • Bacon responded by offering to organize a volunteer army of back-country men

    • Berkeley rejected this proposal

  • Bacon ignored Berkeley and launched a series of generally unsuccessful attacks on the Indians

    • Berkeley then dismissed Bacon from the governor's council and proclaimed him and his men to be rebels.

  • Twice, Bacon led his army east to Jamestown.

    • But his forces were defeated after Bacon died.

  • 1677, Doeg Indians signed treaty that opened western lands to white settlement.


Significance of bacon s rebellion

Significance of Bacon’s Rebellion

  • Struggle between Indian and white spheres in Va.

    • Unwillingness of English to abide by treaties

  • Backcountry-Tidewater rivalry among elites

  • Problem of free, landless men.

    • Most of them former indentured servants, had formed bulk of Bacon's constituency during the rebellion.

      • Unable to find work or land, they moved west

      • a large, unstable, population eager for land.

  • Landed elites in BOTH eastern and western Va. began to recognize a common interest in dealing with the problem of landless white men

    • Seek the African slave trade as a means to fulfill their need for labor—replace indentured servitude


Slave trade

Slave Trade

  • Trans-Atlantic slave trade begun by Portuguese

    • 1450-1650—small scale; “disposable persons”

    • 1650-1850—large scale

      • By 1850, 1/3 of all persons of African descent lived outside of Africa

      • an estimated 10 million Africans captured and sold into slavery

    • Most slaves NOT captured by Europeans

      • traded for with African monarchs for guns, goods

  • “Middle passage”—Atlantic crossing;

    • ‘seasoning’ in the West Indies

    • ½ of all slaves died before they reached final destination in Americas


Slavery in colonial virginia

Slavery in Colonial Virginia

  • First African servants to British North America arrived at Jamestown, Va. in 1619

    • status is unclear—were probably indentured servants 

  • 1619-1650, there were very few blacks in Va.

    • 15,000 whites, 300 blacks in Va. in 1648 

  • Blacks were distinguished by race in early Va.

    • 1629, Va. census distinguished blacks and whites

    • 1640, blacks prohibited from owning firearms

    • 1640, three runaway servants captured—2 were white, one was black

      • whites got 4 years added to indenture; black got life

      • Blacks begin to be sold for life terms—something no white person was subject to


Slavery in colonial virginia1

Slavery in Colonial Virginia

  • 1660s, slavery becoming an established practice in Va.

    • As life expectancies increased, slavery became cost-effective

    • slaves didn’t create a problem of a poor underclass when freed

    • slaves could reproduce a new generation of laborers

    • racial slavery bound poor and elite whites together—racial identity

      • black skin identified with inferiority and servitude

  • Laws passed between 1660 and 1705 codify slavery in Va.

    • mid-1600s, most blacks in VA were committed to life servitude

    • 1667 law determined that child would inherit the condition of its mother, and that baptism had no effect on one’s earthly condition

    • 1705 slavery was fully codified in VA law

      • slaves now legally property/real estate, not men

      • could be shot on sight (not innocent until proven guilty)

      • had no right to self-defense

      • blacks tried in separate courts

      • Blacks could not testify against whites

      • Manumission forbidden


Development of southern slavery

Development of Southern Slavery

  • 1710, slaves made up 30% of Va.’s population

    • 1750, they made up 41%

  • Slavery soon developed in other Southern colonies

    • SC had a slave majority by mid- 18th c.

  • 1740, slaves accounted for ¼ of the Southern population

    • 1775, they accounted for 40% of Southern colonial population

  • Slavery existed in all 13 colonies before independence

    • But in 1770, Southern colonies had more than 9 times the number of slaves as northern colonies

  • By 1860 there were 4 million slaves in the South

  • 385,000 white families (24%) owned at least one slave

    • 20% had only 1 slave

    • 88% had fewer than 20 slaves

    • 99% owned fewer than 100 slaves

    • Only 14 families had more than 500 slaves


Slave work

Slave Work

  • Slaves involved in every phase of agriculture

    • Preparing ground, cultivating the crop and harvesting it

    • curing, ginning or milling necessary to get it to market

  • Slaves were also involved in almost every econ. activity on large plantations

    • Some were skilled artisans

      • carpenters, blacksmiths, brick masons, tanners, teamsters, distillers

    • Others worked in the owners home

      • cooks, butlers, maids, wet nurses, laundresses  


Work management

Work Management

  • Small farms—owners worked alongside slaves

  • Large farms—owners usually personally directed slave work but often appointed a “driver”

  • Plantations—owners often distant or absent

    • Hired an “overseer” to run plantation, control slaves

    • Overseers supervised drivers

      • who were in charge of work gangs of about 10 slaves

  • Two basic work schemes existed:

    • Gang system was prevalent in the cotton kingdom

      • Gangs worked from sunup to sundown

    • Task system was prevalent in rice and hemp country

      • Slaves assigned specific tasks to do


Work motivation

Work Motivation

  • Incentives

    • Decent food, housing, time off

    • Keeping families together

    • Rewards for loyalty or hard work

      • Family gardens, homes, free time

    • Special meals

    • Clothes

    • Competitions

      • Cash prizes, time off, extra food or clothing

  • Force

    • Punishments

      • Extra work, cancellation of dances/parties, stocks, separating family, whippings


Hired out slaves

Hired-out slaves

  • Most industrial slaves were “hired-out”

    • Contracts usually stipulated the term of service, how much “rent” owner would be paid, who would pay slave’s maintenance, and type of work to be done

    • A means for owners to both make money and remove the burden of maintenance of a slave

    • Some slaves, usually skilled artisans, were even able to hire-out their own time, by which they agreed to pay their master a portion of their wages, while feeding, housing, and clothing themselves

  • Other uses of hired slaves:

    • Planters often hired extra slaves during harvest time

    • Railroads hired slaves as construction workers

    • City dwellers often hired slaves as domestic servants


Slave economy

Slave Economy

  • Many slaves were allowed to earn money

    • Selling food

      • Many slaves raised vegetables, hunted, and fished

    • Skilled artisans could sell their goods

      • woodworking, basket-weaving, broom-making

    • Slaves who worked on Sundays master were often paid

      • La. law even mandated that slaves be paid for Sunday work

    • Hired-out slaves often allowed to keep what they earned over their rental fees

    • Some slaves purchased their own freedom, and the freedom of their families


Slave culture

Slave Culture

  • Evidences of African culture in the Americas

    • Food

      • Southern food—grits, rice meals (jambalaya), hot spices

    • Crafts

      • Brooms, baskets, canoes

    • Folk Medicine/Conjurers

      • Mix of medicine, magic, and superstition

      • Conjurers often held great influence over slaves

    • Language

      • Gullah

      • Influences on American English—especially Southern dialect

    • Folk tales

      • Used to educate, entertain and vent frustrations

    • Music and Dance

      • secular songs, spirituals, folk songs


Slave families

Slave Families

  • Obstacles for slave families:

    • Physical proximity

      • “away” marriages

      • Breaking up of families

    • Lack of control/protection of the family

      • Master was the true head of the family

      • Husbands could not protect their wives, parents could not protect children from physical/sexual abuse, sale, violence

      • Master provided food, shelter

    • Legality

      • Slave marriages had no legal standing


Slave religion

Slave Religion

  • Before Great Awakening , few slaves were Christians

    • After the Awakening, masters began converting slaves

  • Church the most “Americanizing” institution for slaves

    • But slaves often adapted African religious traditions into American Christianity

    • Black churches were illegal in the antebellum South

      • most slaves therefore worshipped with their masters

      • some masters did allow separate services in the slave quarter

  • Religion was both a means to control slaves,

    • Owners often used the Bible to pacify slaves

      • “slaves obey thy master…”

  • Religion also a way for slaves to resist

    • Hope of deliverance

    • Hymns used to communicate escape routes


Slave revolts

Slave Revolts

  • Stono Rebellion (S.C., 1739)

    • Largest slave uprising in colonial British N. America

    • 60+ people were killed, two-thirds slaves

    • In response, S.C. passed the Negro Act of 1740

  • Gabriel Prosser Conspiracy (Va., 1800)

    • Revolt undermined by weather and slave betrayal

  • Denmark Vesey Conspiracy (S.C, 1822)

    • Vesey, a free black carpenter, organized 9,000 slaves and planned an armed attack on Charleston, S.C.

    • Vesey conspiracy was also betrayed by slaves, and Vesey was executed along with 34 other conspirators


Nat turner

Nat Turner

  • Largest slave rebellion in U.S.

  • 1825 to 1830, Turner was became a popular slave preacher in Va.

    • sermons focused on conflict and liberation

  • August 22, 1831, Turner’s uprising began at the Travis home, where he was enslaved

    • killed everyone in the household.

  • Eventually 60 to 70 slaves joined in Turner’s rebellion

  • Rebellion lasted almost three days, killed 57 whites, and resulted in deaths of over 100 rebels.

  • The uprising intensified both the antislavery movement in North, and the proslavery forces in South.


Slave resistance

Slave Resistance

  • Slave resistance not just armed rebellion.

    • Poisoning

    • slow downs

    • destruction of property

    • feigned sickness

    • Theft

    • Arson

    • Infanticide

    • self-injury

    • Murder

    • running away

      • Underground Railroad


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