By Richard S. Dunn
Forty years in the past, after ebook of his pathbreaking publication Sugar and Slaves, Richard Dunn started a radical research of 2 thousand slaves residing on plantations, one in North the USA and one within the Caribbean. Digging deeply into the data, he has reconstructed the person lives and collective reviews 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 varieties slavery may take. Dunn’s gorgeous success is a wealthy and compelling historical past of bondage in very assorted Atlantic global settings.
From the mid-eighteenth century to emancipation in 1834, lifestyles in Mesopotamia used to be formed and stunted by way of lethal paintings regimens, rampant disorder, and dependence at the slave alternate for brand new employees. At Mount ethereal, the place the inhabitants always improved till emancipation in 1865, the “surplus” slaves have been bought or moved to far away paintings websites, and households have been frequently 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 hint a Mesopotamia fieldhand via each degree of her bondage, and distinction her harsh therapy with the fortunes of her rebellious mulatto son and smart quadroon granddaughter. We music a Mount ethereal craftworker via a stormy lifetime of interracial intercourse, get away, and relations breakup. the main points of people’ lives allow us to understand the whole adventure of either slave groups as they worked and enjoyed, and eventually grew to become free.
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Extra resources for A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia
Furthermore, the gender balance had shifted. By 1833 there were only 157 males as against 172 females, for a sex ratio of 91:100, and the women in the prime ﬁeld gang considerably outnumbered the men. In sum, although Mesopotamia’s population structure in 1833 was quite different from the structure in 1762, we once again see a workforce not very well designed for effective sugar production. In 1832 Joseph II’s eldest son, John Foster Barham (1799–1838), inherited Mesopotamia, but he took no interest in his slaves, since they were on the brink of emancipation.
He turned out to be a pious young man, and at age twenty-one he visited Jamaica for a little over a year in 1750–1751, accompanied by his tutor, the Reverend George Downing. 22 But Joseph could see that Mesopotamia was producing annual sugar and rum shipments valued at £4,000 Jamaican (£2,850 sterling), and Island was producing another £3,000 Jamaican (£2,150 sterling), which would give him more than enough to live on as an absentee. 23 Young Joseph seems to have been quite troubled by the conditions he found at Mesopotamia and Island.
But from a social perspective Barham’s policy helped to stabilize the Mesopotamia population by introducing more females and more established families. Though deaths continued to outnumber 42 A Tale of Two Plantations births, and the population continued to drop, the proportion of young women was increasing, and these young women were producing more children. There was potential for natural growth. Joseph II was quickly disappointed with his Springﬁeld purchase. By the 1820s he came to believe that the Mesopotamia people must be responsible for their demographic failure.