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American Negro Slavery by Ulrich Bonnell Phillips

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they passed their second year.[16] At least one public-spirited planter
advocated in 1801 the heroic measure of closing the slave trade in order
to raise the price of labor and coerce the planters into saving it both by
improving their apparatus and by diminishing the death rate.[17] But his
fellows would have none of his policy.

[Footnote 15: Long, III, 432; Edwards, book 4, chap. 2.]

[Footnote 16: _Abridgement of the evidence taken before a committee of the
whole House: The Slave Trade_, no. 2 (London, 1790), pp. 48, 80.]

[Footnote 17: Clement Caines, _Letters on the Cultivation of the Otaheite
Cane_ (London, 1801), pp. 274-281.]

While in the other plantation staples the crop was planted and reaped in
a single year, sugar cane had a cycle extending through several years. A
typical field in southside Jamaica would be "holed" or laid off in furrows
between March and June, planted in the height of the rainy season between
July and September, cultivated for fifteen months, and harvested in the
first half of the second year after its planting. Then when the rains
returned new shoots, "rattoons," would sprout from the old roots to yield
a second though diminished harvest in the following spring, and so on for
several years more until the rattoon or "stubble" yield became too small to
be worth while. The period of profitable rattooning ran in some specially
favorable districts as high as fourteen years, but in general a field was
replanted after the fourth crop. In such case the cycles of the several
fields were so arranged on any well managed estate that one-fifth of the
area in cane was replanted each year and four-fifths harvested.

This cooerdination of cycles brought it about that oftentimes almost every
sort of work on the plantation was going on simultaneously. Thus on the
Lodge and Grange plantations which were apparently operated as a single
unit, the extant journal of work during the harvest month of May, 1801,[18]
shows a distribution of the total of 314 slaves as follows: ninety of the
"big gang" and fourteen of the "big gang feeble" together with fifty of
the "little gang" were stumping a new clearing, "holing" or laying off a
stubble field for replanting, weeding and filling the gaps in the field of
young first-year or "plant" cane, and heaping the manure in the ox-lot;
ten slaves were cutting, ten tying and ten more hauling the cane from
the fields in harvest; fifteen were in a "top heap" squad whose work was
conjecturally the saving of the green cane tops for forage and fertilizer;
nine were tending the cane mill, seven were in the boiling house, producing
a hogshead and a half of sugar daily, and two were at the two stills making
a puncheon of rum every four days; six watchmen and fence menders, twelve
artisans, eight stockminders, two hunters, four domestics, and two sick
nurses were at their appointed tasks; and eighteen invalids and pregnant
women, four disabled with sores, forty infants and one runaway were doing
no work. There were listed thirty horses, forty mules and a hundred oxen
and other cattle; but no item indicates that a single plow was in use.

[Footnote 18: Printed by Clement Caines in a table facing p. 246 of his

The cane-mill in the eighteenth century consisted merely of three
iron-sheathed cylinders, two of them set against the third, turned by
wind, water or cattle. The canes, tied into small bundles for greater
compression, were given a double squeezing while passing through the mill.
The juice expressed found its way through a trough into the boiling house
while the flattened stalks, called mill trash or megass in the British
colonies and bagasse in Louisiana, were carried to sheds and left to dry
for later use as fuel under the coppers and stills.

In the boiling house the cane-juice flowed first into a large receptacle,
the clarifier, where by treatment with lime and moderate heat it was
separated from its grosser impurities. It then passed into the first
or great copper, where evaporation by boiling began and some further
impurities, rising in scum, were taken off. After further evaporation in
smaller coppers the thickened fluid was ladled into a final copper, the
teache, for a last boiling and concentration; and when the product of the
teache was ready for crystallization it was carried away for the curing. In
Louisiana the successive caldrons were called the grande, the propre, the
flambeau and the batterie, the last of these corresponding to the Jamaican

The curing house was merely a timber framework with a roof above and a
great shallow sloping vat below. The sugary syrup from the teache was
generally potted directly into hogsheads resting on the timbers, and
allowed to cool with occasional stirrings. Most of the sugar stayed in the
hogsheads, while some of it trickled with the mother liquor, molasses,
through perforations in the bottoms into the vat beneath. When the
hogsheads were full of the crudely cured, moist, and impure "muscovado"
sugar, they were headed up and sent to port. The molasses, the scum, and
the juice of the canes tainted by damage from rats and hurricanes were
carried to vats in the distillery where, with yeast and water added, the
mixture fermented and when distilled yielded rum.

The harvest was a time of special activity, of good feeling, and even of a
certain degree of pageantry. Lafcadio Hearn, many years after the slaves
were freed, described the scene in Martinique as viewed from the slopes
of Mont Pelee: "We look back over the upreaching yellow fan-spread of
cane-fields, and winding of tortuous valleys, and the sea expanding
beyond an opening to the west.... Far down we can distinguish a line of
field-hands--the whole _atelier_, as it is called, of a plantation--slowly
descending a slope, hewing the canes as they go. There is a woman to every
two men, a binder (amarreuse): she gathers the canes as they are cut down,
binds them with their own tough long leaves into a sort of sheaf,
and carries them away on her head;--the men wield their cutlasses so
beautifully that it is a delight to watch them. One cannot often enjoy such
a spectacle nowadays; for the introduction of the piece-work system has
destroyed the picturesqueness of plantation labor throughout the islands,
with rare exceptions. Formerly the work of cane-cutting resembled the march
of an army;--first advanced the cutlassers in line, naked to the waist;
then the amarreuses, the women who tied and carried; and behind these the
_ka_, the drum,--with a paid _crieur_ or _crieuse_ to lead the song;--and
lastly the black Commandeur, for general."[19]

[Footnote 19: Lafcadio Hearn, _Two Years in the French West Indies_ (New
York, 1890), p. 275.]

After this bit of rhapsody the steadying effect of statistics may be
abundantly had from the records of the great Worthy Park plantation,
elaborated expressly for posterity's information. This estate, lying in
St. John's parish on the southern slope of the Jamaica mountain chain,
comprised not only the plantation proper, which had some 560 acres in sugar
cane and smaller fields in food and forage crops, but also Spring Garden, a
nearby cattle ranch, and Mickleton which was presumably a relay station for
the teams hauling the sugar and rum to Port Henderson. The records, which
are available for the years from 1792 to 1796 inclusive, treat the three
properties as one establishment.[20]

[Footnote 20: These records have been analyzed in U.B. Phillips, "A Jamaica
Slave Plantation," in the _American Historical Review_, XIX, 543-558.]

The slaves of the estate at the beginning of 1792 numbered 355, apparently
all seasoned negroes, of whom 150 were in the main field gang. But this
force was inadequate for the full routine, and in that year "jobbing gangs"
from outside were employed at rates from _2s. 6d_. to _3s_. per head per
day and at a total cost of L1832, reckoned probably in Jamaican currency
which stood at thirty per cent, discount. In order to relieve the need of
this outside labor the management began that year to buy new Africans on a
scale considered reckless by all the island authorities. In March five men
and five women were bought; and in October 25 men, 27 women, 16 boys, 16
girls and 6 children, all new Congoes; and in the next year 51 males and 30
females, part Congoes and part Coromantees and nearly all of them eighteen
to twenty years old. Thirty new huts were built; special cooks and nurses
were detailed; and quantities of special foodstuffs were bought--yams,
plantains, flour, fresh and salt fish, and fresh beef heads, tongues,
hearts and bellies; but it is not surprising to find that the next outlay
for equipment was for a large new hospital in 1794, costing L341 for
building its brick walls alone. Yaws became serious, but that was a trifle
as compared with dysentery; and pleurisy, pneumonia, fever and dropsy had
also to be reckoned with. About fifty of the new negroes were quartered
for several years in a sort of hospital camp at Spring Garden, where the
routine even for the able-bodied was much lighter than on Worthy Park.

One of the new negroes died in 1792, and another in the next year. Then in
the spring of 1794 the heavy mortality began. In that year at least 31 of
the newcomers died, nearly all of them from the "bloody flux" (dysentery)
except two who were thought to have committed suicide. By 1795, however,
the epidemic had passed. Of the five deaths of the new negroes that year,
two were attributed to dirt-eating,[21] one to yaws, and two to ulcers,
probably caused by yaws. The three years of the seasoning period were now
ended, with about three-fourths of the number imported still alive. The
loss was perhaps less than usual where such large batches were bought; but
it demonstrates the strength of the shock involved in the transplantation
from Africa, even after the severities of the middle passage had been
survived and after the weaklings among the survivors had been culled out at
the ports. The outlay for jobbing gangs on Worthy Park rapidly diminished.

[Footnote 21: The "fatal habit of eating dirt" is described by Thomas
Roughley in his _Planter's Guide_ (London. 1823) pp. 118-120.]

The list of slaves at the beginning of 1794 is the only one giving full
data as to ages, colors and health as well as occupations. The ages were of
course in many cases mere approximations. The "great house negroes" head
the list, fourteen in number. They comprised four housekeepers, one of
whom however was but eight years old, three waiting boys, a cook, two
washerwomen, two gardeners and a grass carrier, and included nominally
Quadroon Lizette who after having been hired out for several years to Peter
Douglass, the owner of a jobbing gang, was this year manumitted.

The overseer's house had its proportionate staff of nine domestics with two
seamstresses added, and it was also headquarters both for the nursing corps
and a group engaged in minor industrial pursuits. The former, with a "black
doctor" named Will Morris at its head, included a midwife, two nurses for
the hospital, four (one of them blind) for the new negroes, two for the
children in the day nursery, and one for the suckling babies of the women
in the gangs. The latter comprised three cooks to the gangs, one of whom
had lost a hand; a groom, three hog tenders, of whom one was ruptured,
another "distempered" and the third a ten-year-old boy, and ten aged idlers
including Quashy Prapra and Abba's Moll to mend pads, Yellow's Cuba and
Peg's Nancy to tend the poultry house, and the rest to gather grass and hog

Next were listed the watchmen, thirty-one in number, to guard against
depredations of men, cattle and rats and against conflagrations which might
sweep the ripening cane-fields and the buildings. All of these were black
but the mulatto foreman, and only six were described as able-bodied. The
disabilities noted were a bad sore leg, a broken back, lameness, partial
blindness, distemper, weakness, and cocobees which was a malady of the

A considerable number of the slaves already mentioned were in such
condition that little work might be expected of them. Those completely laid
off were nine superannuated ranging from seventy to eighty-five years old,
three invalids, and three women relieved of work as by law required for
having reared six children each.

Among the tradesmen, virtually all the blacks were stated to be fit for
field work, but the five mulattoes and the one quadroon, though mostly
youthful and healthy, were described as not fit for the field. There were
eleven carpenters, eight coopers, four sawyers, three masons and twelve
cattlemen, each squad with a foreman; and there were two ratcatchers whose
work was highly important, for the rats swarmed in incredible numbers and
spoiled the cane if left to work their will. A Jamaican author wrote, for
example, that in five or six months on one plantation "not less than nine
and thirty thousand were caught."[22]

[Footnote 22: William Beckford, _A Discriptive Account of Jamaica_ (London,
1790), I. 55, 56.]

In the "weeding gang," in which most of the children from five to eight
years old were kept as much for control as for achievement, there were
twenty pickaninnies, all black, under Mirtilla as "driveress," who had
borne and lost seven children of her own. Thirty-nine other children were
too young for the weeding gang, at least six of whom were quadroons. Two of
these last, the children of Joanny, a washerwoman at the overseer's house,
were manumitted in 1795.

Fifty-five, all new negroes except Darby the foreman, and including Blossom
the infant daughter of one of the women, comprised the Spring Garden squad.
Nearly all of these were twenty or twenty-one years old. The men included
Washington, Franklin, Hamilton, Burke, Fox, Milton, Spencer, Hume and
Sheridan; the women Spring, Summer, July, Bashfull, Virtue, Frolic,
Gamesome, Lady, Madame, Dutchess, Mirtle and Cowslip. Seventeen of this
distinguished company died within the year.

The "big gang" on Worthy Park numbered 137, comprising 64 men from nineteen
to sixty years old and 73 women from nineteen to fifty years, though but
four of the women and nine of the men, including Quashy the "head driver"
or foreman, were past forty years. The gang included a "head home wainman,"
a "head road wainman," who appears to have been also the sole slave plowman
on the place, a head muleman, three distillers, a boiler, two sugar
potters, and two "sugar guards" for the wagons carrying the crop to port.
All of the gang were described as healthy, able-bodied and black. A
considerable number in it were new negroes, but only seven of the whole
died in this year of heaviest mortality.

The "second gang," employed in a somewhat lighter routine under Sharper as
foreman, comprised 40 women and 27 men ranging from fifteen to sixty years,
all black. While most of them were healthy, five were consumptive, four
were ulcerated, one was "inclined to be bloated," one was "very weak," and
Pheba was "healthy but worthless."

Finally in the third or "small gang," for yet lighter work under Baddy as
driveress with Old Robin as assistant, there were 68 boys and girls, all
black, mostly between twelve and fifteen years old. The draught animals
comprised about 80 mules and 140 oxen.

Among the 528 slaves all told--284 males and 244 females--74, equally
divided between the sexes, were fifty years old and upwards. If the new
negroes, virtually all of whom were doubtless in early life, be subtracted
from the gross, it appears that one-fifth of the seasoned stock had reached
the half century, and one-eighth were sixty years old and over. This is a
good showing of longevity.

About eighty of the seasoned women were within the age limits of
childbearing. The births recorded were on an average of nine for each of
the five years covered, which was hardly half as many as might have been
expected under favorable conditions. Special entry was made in 1795 of the
number of children each woman had borne during her life, the number
of these living at the time this record was made, and the number of
miscarriages each woman had had. The total of births thus recorded was 345;
of children then living 159; of miscarriages 75. Old Quasheba and Betty
Madge had each borne fifteen children, and sixteen other women had borne
from six to eleven each. On the other hand, seventeen women of thirty years
and upwards had had no children and no miscarriages. The childbearing
records of the women past middle age ran higher than those of the younger
ones to a surprising degree. Perhaps conditions on Worthy Park had been
more favorable at an earlier period, when the owner and his family may
possibly have been resident there. The fact that more than half of the
children whom these women had borne were dead at the time of the record
comports with the reputation of the sugar colonies for heavy infant
mortality. With births so infrequent and infant deaths so many it may well
appear that the notorious failure of the island-bred stock to maintain its
numbers was not due to the working of the slaves to death. The poor care
of the young children may be attributed largely to the absence of a white
mistress, an absence characteristic of Jamaica plantations. There appears
to have been no white woman resident on Worthy Park during the time of this
record. In 1795 and perhaps in other years the plantation had a contract
for medical service at the rate of L140 a year.

"Robert Price of Penzance in the Kingdom of Great Britain Esquire" was the
absentee owner of Worthy Park. His kinsman Rose Price Esquire who was in
active charge was not salaried but may have received a manager's commission
of six per cent, on gross crop sales as contemplated in the laws of the
colony. In addition there were an overseer at L200, later L300, a year,
four bookkeepers at L50 to L60, a white carpenter at L120, and a white
plowman at L56. The overseer was changed three times during the five years
of the record, and the bookkeepers were generally replaced annually. The
bachelor staff was most probably responsible for the mulatto and quadroon
offspring and was doubtless responsible also for the occasional manumission
of a woman or child.

Rewards for zeal in service were given chiefly to the "drivers" or gang
foremen. Each of these had for example every year a "doubled milled cloth
colored great coat" costing 11$. 6_d_ and a "fine bound hat with girdle and
buckle" costing 10$. 6_d_.As a more direct and frequent stimulus a quart
of rum was served weekly to each of three drivers, three carpenters, four
boilers, two head cattlemen, two head mulemen, the "stoke-hole boatswain,"
and the black doctor, and to the foremen respectively of the sawyers,
coopers, blacksmiths, watchmen, and road wainmen, and a pint weekly to the
head home wainman, the potter, the midwife, and the young children's field
nurse. These allowances totaled about three hundred gallons yearly. But
a considerably greater quantity than this was distributed, mostly at
Christmas perhaps, for in 1796 for example 922 gallons were recorded of
"rum used for the negroes on the estate." Upon the birth of each child the
mother was given a Scotch rug and a silver dollar.

No record of whippings appears to have been kept, nor of any offenses
except absconding. Of the runaways, reports were made to the parish vestry
of those lying out at the end of each quarter. At the beginning of the
record there were no runaways and at the end there were only four; but
during 1794 and 1795 there were eight or nine listed in each report, most
of whom were out for but a few months each, but several for a year or two;
and several furthermore absconded a second or third time after returning.
The runaways were heterogeneous in age and occupation, with more old
negroes among them than might have been expected. Most of them were men;
but the women Ann, Strumpet and Christian Grace made two flights each, and
the old pad-mender Abba's Moll stayed out for a year and a quarter. A
few of those recovered were returned through the public agency of the
workhouse. Some of the rest may have come back of their own accord.

In the summer of 1795, when absconding had for some time been too common,
the recaptured runaways and a few other offenders were put for disgrace and
better surveillance into a special "vagabond gang." This comprised Billy
Scott, who was usually a mason and sugar guard, Oxford who as head cooper
had enjoyed a weekly quart of rum, Cesar a sawyer, and Moll the old
pad-mender, along with three men and two women from the main gangs, and
three half-grown boys. The vagabond gang was so wretchedly assorted for
industrial purposes that it was probably soon disbanded and its members
distributed to their customary tasks. For use in marking slaves a branding
iron was inventoried, but in the way of arms there were merely two muskets,
a fowling piece and twenty-four old guns without locks. Evidently no
turbulence was anticipated. Worthy Park bought nearly all of its hardware,
dry goods, drugs and sundries in London, and its herrings for the negroes
and salt pork and beef for the white staff in Cork. Corn was cultivated
between the rows in some of the cane fields on the plantation, and some
guinea-corn was bought from neighbors. The negroes raised their own yams
and other vegetables, and doubtless pigs and poultry as well; and plantains
were likely to be plentiful.

Every October cloth was issued at the rate of seven yards of osnaburgs,
three of checks, and three of baize for each adult and proportionately for
children. The first was to be made into coats, trousers and frocks, the
second into shirts and waists, the third into bedclothes. The cutting and
sewing were done in the cabins. A hat and a cap were also issued to each
negro old enough to go into the field, and a clasp-knife to each one above
the age of the third gang. From the large purchases of Scotch rugs recorded
it seems probable that these were issued on other occasions than those of
childbirth. As to shoes, however, the record is silent.

The Irish provisions cost annually about L300, and the English supplies
about L1000, not including such extra outlays as that of L1355 in 1793 for
new stills, worms, and coppers. Local expenditures were probably reckoned
in currency. Converted into sterling, the salary list amounted to about
L500, and the local outlay for medical services, wharfage, and petty
supplies came to a like amount. Taxes, manager's commissions, and the
depreciation of apparatus must have amounted collectively to L800. The
net death-loss of slaves, not including that from the breaking-in of new
negroes, averaged about two and a quarter per cent.; that of the mules and
oxen ten per cent. When reckoned upon the numbers on hand in 1796 when the
plantation with 470 slaves was operating with very little outside help,
these losses, which must be replaced by new purchases if the scale of
output was to be maintained, amounted to about L900. Thus a total of L4000
sterling is reached as the average current expense in years when no mishaps

The crops during the years of the record averaged 311 hogsheads of sugar,
sixteen hundredweight each, and 133 puncheons of rum, 110 gallons each.
This was about the common average on the island, of two-thirds as many
hogsheads as there were slaves of all ages on a plantation.[23] If the
prices had been those current in the middle of the eighteenth century these
crops would have yielded the proprietor great profits. But at L15 per
hogshead and L10 per puncheon, the prices generally current in the island
in the seventeen-nineties, the gross return was but about L6000 sterling,
and the net earnings of the establishment accordingly not above L2000. The
investment in slaves, mules and oxen was about L28,000, and that in land,
buildings and equipment according to the island authorities, would reach a
like sum.[24] The net earnings in good years were thus less than four per
cent. on the investment; but the liability to hurricanes, earthquakes,
fires, epidemics and mutinies would bring the safe expectations
considerably lower. A mere pestilence which carried off about sixty mules
and two hundred oxen on Worthy Park in 1793-1794 wiped out more than a
year's earnings.

[Footnote 23: Long, _Jamaica_, II, 433, 439.]

[Footnote 24: Edwards, _West Indies_, book 5, chap. 3.]

In the twenty years prior to the beginning of the Worthy Park record more
than one-third of all the sugar plantations in Jamaica had gone through
bankruptcy. It was generally agreed that, within the limits of efficient
operation, the larger an estate was, the better its prospect for net
earnings. But though Worthy Park had more than twice the number of slaves
that the average plantation employed, it was barely paying its way.

In the West Indies as a whole there was a remarkable repetition of
developments and experiences in island after island, similar to that
which occurred in the North American plantation regions, but even more
pronounced. The career of Barbados was followed rapidly by the other Lesser
Antilles under the English and French flags; these were all exceeded by the
greater scale of Jamaica; she in turn yielded the primacy in sugar to Hayti
only to have that French possession, when overwhelmed by its great negro
insurrection, give the paramount place to the Spanish Porto Rico and Cuba.
In each case the opening of a fresh area under imperial encouragement would
promote rapid immigration and vigorous industry on every scale; the land
would be taken up first in relatively small holdings; the prosperity of the
pioneers would prompt a more systematic husbandry and the consolidation of
estates, involving the replacement of the free small proprietors by slave
gangs; but diminishing fertility and intensifying competition would in the
course of years more than offset the improvement of system. Meanwhile more
pioneers, including perhaps some of those whom the planters had bought out
in the original colonies, would found new settlements; and as these in turn
developed, the older colonies would decline and decay in spite of desperate
efforts by their plantation proprietors to hold their own through the
increase of investments and the improvement of routine.[25]

[Footnote 25: Herman Merivale, _Colonisation and Colonies_ (London, 1841),
PP. 92,93.]



The purposes of the Virginia Company of London and of the English public
which gave it sanction were profit for the investors and aggrandizement
for the nation, along with the reduction of pauperism at home and the
conversion of the heathen abroad. For income the original promoters looked
mainly toward a South Sea passage, gold mines, fisheries, Indian trade, and
the production of silk, wine and naval stores. But from the first they were
on the alert for unexpected opportunities to be exploited. The following of
the line of least resistance led before long to the dominance of tobacco
culture, then of the plantation system, and eventually of negro slavery. At
the outset, however, these developments were utterly unforeseen. In short,
Virginia was launched with varied hopes and vague expectations. The project
was on the knees of the gods, which for a time proved a place of extreme
discomfort and peril.

The first comers in the spring of 1607, numbering a bare hundred men and
no women, were moved by the spirit of adventure. With a cumbrous and
oppressive government over them, and with no private ownership of land nor
other encouragement for steadygoing thrift, the only chance for personal
gain was through a stroke of discovery. No wonder the loss of time and
strength in futile excursions. No wonder the disheartening reaction in the
malaria-stricken camp of Jamestown.

A second hundred men arriving early in 1608 found but forty of the first
alive. The combined forces after lading the ships with "gilded dirt" and
cedar logs, were left facing the battle with Indians and disease. The dirt
when it reached London proved valueless, and the cedar, of course, worth
little. The company that summer sent further recruits including two women
and several Poles and Germans to make soap-ashes, glass and pitch--"skilled
workmen from foraine parts which may teach and set ours in the way where we
may set thousands a work in these such like services."[1] At the same time
it instructed the captain of the ship to explore and find either a lump of
gold, the South Sea passage, or some of Raleigh's lost colonists, and it
sent the officials at Jamestown peremptory notice that unless the L2000
spent on the present supply be met by the proceeds of the ship's return
cargo, the settlers need expect no further aid. The shrewd and redoubtable
Captain John Smith, now president in the colony, opposed the vain
explorings, and sent the council in London a characteristic "rude letter."
The ship, said he, kept nearly all the victuals for its crew, while the
settlers, "the one halfe sicke, the other little better," had as their diet
"a little meale and water, and not sufficient of that." The foreign experts
had been set at their assigned labors; but "it were better to give five
hundred pound a tun for those grosse commodities in Denmarke than send for
them hither till more necessary things be provided. For in over-toyling our
weake and unskilfull bodies to satisfie this desire of present profit we
can scarce ever recover ourselves from one supply to another.... As yet you
must not looke for any profitable returnes."[2]

[Footnote 1: Alexander Brown, _The First Republic in America_ (Boston,
1898), p. 68.]

[Footnote 2: Capt. John Smith, _Works_, Arber ed. (Birmingham, 1884), pp.
442-445. Smith's book, it should be said, is the sole source for this

This unwelcome advice while daunting all mercenary promoters gave spur to
strong-hearted patriots. The prospect of profits was gone; the hope of
an overseas empire survived. The London Company, with a greatly improved
charter, appealed to the public through sermons, broadsides, pamphlets,
and personal canvassing, with such success that subscriptions to its stock
poured in from "lords, knights, gentlemen and others," including the trade
guilds and the town corporations. In lieu of cash dividends the company
promised that after a period of seven years, during which the settlers were
to work on the company's account and any surplus earnings were to be spent
on the colony or funded, a dividend in land would be issued. In this the
settlers were to be embraced as if instead of emigrating each of them had
invested L12 10s. in a share of stock. Several hundred recruits were sent
in 1609, and many more in the following years; but from the successive
governors at Jamestown came continued reports of disease, famine and
prostration, and pleas ever for more men and supplies. The company, bravely
keeping up its race with the death rate, met all demands as best it could.

To establish a firmer control, Sir Thomas Dale was sent out in 1611 as high
marshal along with Sir Thomas Gates as governor. Both of these were men
of military training, and they carried with them a set of stringent
regulations quite in keeping with their personal proclivities. These rulers
properly regarded their functions as more industrial than political. They
for the first time distributed the colonists into a series of settlements
up and down the river for farming and live-stock tending; they spurred the
willing workers by assigning them three-acre private gardens; and they
mercilessly coerced the laggard. They transformed the colony from a
distraught camp into a group of severely disciplined farms, owned by the
London Company, administered by its officials, and operated partly by its
servants, partly by its tenants who paid rent in the form of labor. That is
to say, Virginia was put upon a schedule of plantation routine, producing
its own food supply and wanting for the beginning of prosperity only a
marketable crop. This was promptly supplied through John Rolfe's experiment
in 1612 in raising tobacco. The English people were then buying annually
some L200,000 worth of that commodity, mainly from the Spanish West Indies,
at prices which might be halved or quartered and yet pay the freight and
yield substantial earnings; and so rapid was the resort to the staple in
Virginia that soon the very market place in Jamestown was planted in it.
The government in fact had to safeguard the food supply by forbidding
anyone to plant tobacco until he had put two acres in grain.

When the Gates-Dale administration ended, the seven year period from 1609
was on the point of expiry; but the temptation of earnings from tobacco
persuaded the authorities to delay the land dividend. Samuel Argall, the
new governor, while continuing the stringent discipline, robbed the company
for his own profit; and the news of his misdeeds reaching London in 1618
discredited the faction in the company which had supported his regime. The
capture of control by the liberal element among the stockholders, led
by Edwin Sandys and the Earl of Southampton, was promptly signalized by
measures for converting Virginia into a commonwealth. A land distribution
was provided on a generous scale, and Sir George Yeardley was dispatched as
governor with instructions to call a representative assembly of the people
to share in the making of laws. The land warrants were issued at the rate
of a hundred acres on each share of stock and a similar amount to each
colonist of the time, to be followed in either case by the grant of a
second hundred acres upon proof that the first had been improved; and fifty
acres additional in reward for the future importation of every laborer.

While the company continued as before to send colonists on its own account,
notably craftsmen, indigent London children, and young women to become
wives for the bachelor settlers, it now offered special stimulus to its
members to supplement its exertions. To this end it provided that groups
of its stockholders upon organizing themselves into sub-companies or
partnerships might consolidate their several grants into large units called
particular plantations; and it ordered that "such captaines or leaders of
perticulerr plantations that shall goe there to inhabite by vertue of their
graunts and plant themselves, their tenants and servants in Virginia,
shall have liberty till a forme of government be here settled for them,
associatinge unto them divers of the gravest and discreetes of their
companies, to make orders, ordinances and constitutions for the better
orderinge and dyrectinge of their servants and buisines, provided they be
not repugnant to the lawes of England."[3]

[Footnote 3: _Records of the Virginia Company of London_, Kingsbury ed.
(Washington, 1906), I, 303.]

To embrace this opportunity some fifty grants for particular plantations
were taken out during the remaining life of the London Company. Among them
were Southampton Hundred and Martin's Hundred, to each of which two or
three hundred settlers were sent prior to 1620,[4] and Berkeley Hundred
whose records alone are available. The grant for this last was issued
in February, 1619, to a missionary enthusiast, George Thorpe, and his
partners, whose collective holdings of London Company stock amounted to
thirty-five shares. To them was given and promised land in proportion to
stock and settlers, together with a bonus of 1500 acres in view of their
project for converting the Indians. Their agent in residence was as usual
vested with public authority over the dwellers on the domain, limited
only by the control of the Virginia government in military matters and in
judicial cases on appeal.[5] After delays from bad weather, the initial
expedition set sail in September comprising John Woodleaf as captain and
thirty-four other men of diverse trades bound to service for terms ranging
from three to eight years at varying rates of compensation. Several of
these were designated respectively as officers of the guard, keeper of the
stores, caretaker of arms and implements, usher of the hall, and clerk
of the kitchen. Supplies of provisions and equipment were carried, and
instructions in detail for the building of houses, the fencing of land,
the keeping of watch, and the observances of religion. Next spring the
settlement, which had been planted near the mouth of the Appomattox River,
was joined by Thorpe himself, and in the following autumn by William Tracy
who had entered the partnership and now carried his own family together
with a preacher and some forty servants. Among these were nine women and
the two children of a man who had gone over the year before. As giving
light upon indented servitude in the period it may be noted that many of
those sent to Berkeley Hundred were described as "gentlemen," and that five
of them within the first year besought their masters to send them each
two indented servants for their use and at their expense. Tracy's vessel
however was too small to carry all whom it was desired to send. It was in
fact so crowded with plantation supplies that Tracy wrote on the eve of
sailing: "I have throw out mani things of my own yet is ye midill and upper
extre[m]li pestered so that ouer men will not lie like men and ye mareners
hath not rome to stir God is abel in ye gretest weknes to helpe we will
trust to marsi for he must help be yond hope." Fair winds appear to have
carried the vessel to port, whereupon Tracy and Thorpe jointly took
charge of the plantation, displacing Woodleaf whose services had given
dissatisfaction. Beyond this point the records are extremely scant; but
it may be gathered that the plantation was wrecked and most of its
inhabitants, including Thorpe, slain in the great Indian massacre of 1622.
The restoration of the enterprise was contemplated in an after year, but
eventually the land was sold to other persons.

[Footnote 4: _Records of the Virginia Company of London_, Kingsbury ed.
(Washington, 1906), I, 350.]

[Footnote 5: The records of this enterprise (the Smyth of Nibley papers)
have been printed in the New York Public Library _Bulletin_, III, 160-171,
208-233, 248-258, 276-295.]

The fate of Berkeley Hundred was at the same time the fate of most others
of the same sort; and the extinction of the London Company in 1624 ended
the granting of patents on that plan. The owners of the few surviving
particular plantations, furthermore, found before long that ownership by
groups of absentees was poorly suited to the needs of the case, and that
the exercise of public jurisdiction was of more trouble than it was worth.
The particular plantation system proved accordingly but an episode, yet it
furnished a transition, which otherwise might not readily have been found,
from Virginia the plantation of the London Company, to Virginia the colony
of private plantations and farms. When settlement expanded afresh after the
Indians were driven away many private estates gradually arose to follow the
industrial routine of those which had been called particular.

The private plantations were hampered in their development by dearth of
capital and labor and by the extremely low prices of tobacco which began at
the end of the sixteen-twenties as a consequence of overproduction. But
by dint of good management and the diversification of their industry the
exceptional men led the way to prosperity and the dignity which it carried.
Of Captain Samuel Matthews, for example, "an old Planter of above thirty
years standing," whose establishment was at Blunt Point on the lower James,
it was written in 1648: "He hath a fine house and all things answerable to
it; he sowes yeerly store of hempe and flax, and causes it to be spun; he
keeps weavers, and hath a tan-house, causes leather to be dressed, hath
eight shoemakers employed in this trade, hath forty negroe servants, brings
them up to trades in his house: he yeerly sowes abundance of wheat, barley,
etc. The wheat he selleth at four shillings the bushell; kills store of
beeves, and sells them to victuall the ships when they come thither; hath
abundance of kine, a brave dairy, swine great store, and poltery. He
married the daughter of Sir Tho. Hinton, and in a word, keeps a good
house, lives bravely, and a true lover of Virginia. He is worthy of much
honour."[6] Many other planters were thriving more modestly, most of them
giving nearly all their attention to the one crop. The tobacco output was
of course increasing prodigiously. The export from Virginia in 1619 had
amounted to twenty thousand pounds; that from Virginia and Maryland in 1664
aggregated fifty thousand hogsheads of about five hundred pounds each.[7]

[Footnote 6: _A Perfect Description of Virginia_ (London, 1649), reprinted
in Peter Force _Tracts_, vol. II.]

[Footnote 7: Bruce, _Economic History of Virginia in the Seventeenth
Century_ (New York, 1896), I, 391.]

The labor problem was almost wholly that of getting and managing bondsmen.
Land in the colony was virtually to be had for the taking; and in general
no freemen arriving in the colony would engage for such wages as employers
could afford to pay. Workers must be imported. Many in England were willing
to come, and more could be persuaded or coerced, if their passage were paid
and employment assured. To this end indentured servitude had already been
inaugurated by the London Company as a modification of the long used system
of apprenticeship. And following that plan, ship captains brought hundreds,
then thousands of laborers a year and sold their indentures to the planters
either directly or through dealers in such merchandize. The courts took
the occasion to lessen the work of the hangman by sentencing convicts to
deportation in servitude; the government rid itself of political prisoners
during the civil war by the same method; and when servant prices rose the
supply was further swelled by the agency of professional kidnappers.

The bondage varied as to its terms, with two years apparently the minimum.
The compensation varied also from mere transportation and sustenance to a
payment in advance and a stipulation for outfit in clothing, foodstuffs
and diverse equipment at the end of service. The quality of redemptioners
varied from the very dregs of society to well-to-do apprentice planters;
but the general run was doubtless fairly representative of the English
working classes. Even the convicts under the terrible laws of that century
were far from all being depraved. This labor in all its grades, however,
had serious drawbacks. Its first cost was fairly heavy; it was liable to an
acclimating fever with a high death rate; its term generally expired not
long after its adjustment and training were completed; and no sooner was
its service over than it set up for itself, often in tobacco production, to
compete with its former employers and depress the price of produce. If the
plantation system were to be perpetuated an entirely different labor supply
must be had.

"About the last of August came in a Dutch man of warre that sold us twenty
negars." Thus wrote John Rolfe in a report of happenings in 1619;[8] and
thus, after much antiquarian dispute, the matter seems to stand as to the
first bringing of negroes to Virginia. The man-of-war, or more accurately
the privateer, had taken them from a captured slaver, and it seems to have
sold them to the colonial government itself, which in turn sold them to
private settlers. At the beginning of 1625, when a census of the colony was
made,[9] the negroes, then increased to twenty-three in a total population
of 1232 of which about one-half were white servants, were distributed in
seven localities along the James River. In 1630 a second captured cargo was
sold in the colony, and from 1635 onward small lots were imported nearly
every year.[10] Part of these came from England, part from New Netherland
and most of the remainder doubtless from the West Indies. In 1649 Virginia
was reckoned to have some three hundred negroes mingled with its fifteen
thousand whites.[11] After two decades of a somewhat more rapid importation
Governor Berkeley estimated the gross population in 1671 at forty thousand,
including six thousand white servants and two thousand negro slaves.[12]
Ere this there was also a small number of free negroes. But not until
near the end of the century, when the English government had restricted
kidnapping, when the Virginia assembly had forbidden the bringing in of
convicts, and when the direct trade from Guinea had reached considerable
dimensions, did the negroes begin to form the bulk of the Virginia
plantation gangs.

[Footnote 8: John Smith _Works_, Arber ed., p. 541.]

[Footnote 9: Tabulated in the _Virginia Magazine_, VII, 364-367.]

[Footnote 10: Bruce, _Economic History of Virginia_, II, 72-77.]

[Footnote 11: _A New Description of Virginia_ (London, 1649).]

[Footnote 12: W.W. Hening, _Statutes at Large of Virginia_, II, 515.]

Thus for two generations the negroes were few, they were employed alongside
the white servants, and in many cases were members of their masters'
households. They had by far the best opportunity which any of their race
had been given in America to learn the white men's ways and to adjust
the lines of their bondage into as pleasant places as might be. Their
importation was, for the time, on but an experimental scale, and even their
legal status was during the early decades indefinite.

The first comers were slaves in the hands of their maritime sellers; but
they were not fully slaves in the hands of their Virginian buyers, for
there was neither law nor custom then establishing the institution of
slavery in the colony. The documents of the times point clearly to a vague
tenure. In the county court records prior to 1661 the negroes are called
negro servants or merely negroes--never, it appears, definitely slaves. A
few were expressly described as servants for terms of years, and others
were conceded property rights of a sort incompatible with the institution
of slavery as elaborated in later times. Some of the blacks were in fact
liberated by the courts as having served out the terms fixed either by
their indentures or by the custom of the country. By the middle of the
century several had become free landowners, and at least one of them owned
a negro servant who went to court for his freedom but was denied it because
he could not produce the indenture which he claimed to have possessed.
Nevertheless as early as the sixteen-forties the holders of negroes were
falling into the custom of considering them, and on occasion selling them
along with the issue of the females, as servants for life and perpetuity.
The fact that negroes not bound for a term were coming to be appraised as
high as L30, while the most valuable white redemptioners were worth not
above L15 shows also the tendency toward the crystallization of slavery
before any statutory enactments declared its existence.[13]

[Footnote 13: The substance of this paragraph is drawn mainly from the
illuminating discussion of J.H. Russell, _The Free Negro in Virginia_
(Johns Hopkins University _Studies_, XXXI, no. 3, Baltimore, 1913), pp.

Until after the middle of the century the laws did not discriminate in any
way between the races. The tax laws were an index of the situation. The
act of 1649, for example, confined the poll tax to male inhabitants of all
sorts above sixteen years old. But the act of 1658 added imported female
negroes, along with Indian female servants; and this rating of negro
women as men for tax purposes was continued thenceforward as a permanent
practice. A special act of 1668, indeed, gave sharp assertion to the policy
of using taxation as a token of race distinction: "Whereas some doubts have
arisen whether negro women set free were still to be accompted tithable
according to a former act, it is declared by this grand assembly that
negro women, though permitted to enjoy their freedome yet ought not in all
respects to be admitted to a full fruition of the exemptions and impunities
of the English, and are still liable to the payment of taxes."[14]

[Footnote 14: W.W. Hening, _Statutes at Large of Virginia_, I, 361, 454;
II, 267.]

As to slavery itself, the earliest laws giving it mention did not establish
the institution but merely recognized it, first indirectly then directly,
as in existence by force of custom. The initial act of this series, passed
in 1656, promised the Indian tribes that when they sent hostages the
Virginians would not "use them as slaves."[15] The next, an act of
1660, removing impediments to trade by the Dutch and other foreigners,
contemplated specifically their bringing in of "negro slaves."[16] The
third, in the following year, enacted that if any white servants ran away
in company with "any negroes who are incapable of making satisfaction by
addition of time," the white fugitives must serve for the time of the
negroes' absence in addition to suffering the usual penalties on their own
score.[17] A negro whose time of service could not be extended must needs
have been a servant for life--in other words a slave. Then in 1662 it was
enacted that "whereas some doubts have arrisen whether children got by any
Englishman upon a negro woman shall be slave or free, ... all children born
in this colony shall be bond or free only according to the condition of the
mother."[18] Thus within six years from the first mention of slaves in the
Virginia laws, slavery was definitely recognized and established as the
hereditary legal status of such negroes and mulattoes as might be held
therein. Eighteen years more elapsed before a distinctive police law for
slaves was enacted; but from 1680 onward the laws for their control were as
definite and for the time being virtually as stringent as those which in
the same period were being enacted in Barbados and Jamaica.

[Footnote 15: _Ibid_., I, 396.]

[Footnote 16: _Ibid_., 540.]

[Footnote 17: T Hening, II, 26.]

[Footnote 18: _Ibid_., 170.]

In the first decade or two after the London Company's end the plantation
and farm clearings broke the Virginian wilderness only in a narrow line on
either bank of the James River from its mouth to near the present site of
Richmond, and in a small district on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake.
Virtually all the settlers were then raising tobacco, all dwelt at the
edge of navigable water, and all were neighbors to the Indians. As further
decades passed the similar shores of the parallel rivers to the northward,
the York, then the Rappahannock and the Potomac, were occupied in a similar
way, though with an increasing predominance of large landholdings. This
broadened the colony and gave it a shape conducive to more easy frontier
defence. It also led the way to an eventual segregation of industrial
pursuits, for the tidewater peninsulas were gradually occupied more or less
completely by the planters; while the farmers of less estate, weaned from
tobacco by its fall in price, tended to move west and south to new areas on
the mainland, where they dwelt in self-sufficing democratic neighborhoods,
and formed incidentally a buffer between the plantations on the seaboard
and the Indians round about.

With the lapse of years the number of planters increased, partly through
the division of estates, partly through the immigration of propertied
Englishmen, and partly through the rise of exceptional yeomen to the
planting estate. The farmers increased with still greater speed; for the
planters in recruiting their gangs of indented laborers were serving
constantly as immigration agents and as constantly the redemptioners upon
completing their terms were becoming yeomen, marrying and multiplying.
Meanwhile the expansion of Maryland was extending an identical regime of
planters and farmers from the northern bank of the Potomac round the head
of the Chesapeake all the way to the eastern shore settlements of Virginia.

In Maryland the personal proprietorship of Lord Baltimore and his desire to
found a Catholic haven had no lasting effect upon the industrial and social
development. The geographical conditions were so like those in Virginia and
the adoption of her system so obviously the road to success that no other
plans were long considered. Even the few variations attempted assimilated
themselves more or less promptly to the regime of the older colony. The
career of the manor system is typical. The introduction of that medieval
regime was authorized by the charter for Maryland and was provided for in
turn by the Lord Proprietor's instructions to the governor. Every grant of
one thousand, later two thousand acres, was to be made a manor, with its
appropriate court to settle differences between lord and tenant, to adjudge
civil cases between tenants where the issues involved did not exceed the
value of two pounds sterling, and to have cognizance of misdemeanors
committed on the manor. The fines and other profits were to go to the
manorial lord.

Many of these grants were made, and in a few instances the manorial courts
duly held their sessions. For St. Clement's Manor, near the mouth of the
Potomac, for example, court records between 1659 and 1672 are extant. John
Ryves, steward of Thomas Gerard the proprietor, presided; Richard
Foster assisted as the elected bailiff; and the classified freeholders,
lease-holders, "essoines" and residents served as the "jury and homages."
Characteristic findings were "that Samuell Harris broke the peace with a
stick"; that John Mansell illegally entertained strangers; that land lines
"are at this present unperfect and very obscure"; that a Cheptico Indian
had stolen a shirt from Edward Turner's house, for which he is duly fined
"if he can be knowne"; "that the lord of the mannor hath not provided a
paire of stocks, pillory and ducking stoole--Ordered that these instruments
of justice be provided by the next court by a general contribution
throughout the manor"; that certain freeholders had failed to appear, "to
do their suit at the lord's court, wherefore they are amerced each man 50l.
of tobacco to the lord"; that Joshua Lee had injured "Jno. Hoskins his
hoggs by setting his doggs on them and tearing their eares and other hurts,
for which he is fined 100l. of tobacco and caske"; "that upon the death of
Mr. Robte Sly there is a reliefe due to the lord and that Mr. Gerard Sly is
his next heire, who hath sworne fealty accordingly,"[19]

[Footnote 19: John Johnson, _Old Maryland Manors_ (Johns Hopkins University
_Studies_, I, no, 7, Baltimore, 1883), pp. 31-38.]

St. Clement's was probably almost unique in its perseverance as a true
manor; and it probably discarded its medieval machinery not long after the
end of the existing record. In general, since public land was to be had
virtually free in reward for immigration whether in freedom or service,
most of the so-called manors doubtless procured neither leaseholders nor
essoines nor any other sort of tenants, and those of them which survived as
estates found their salvation in becoming private plantations with servant
and slave gangs tilling their tobacco fields. In short, the Maryland manors
began and ended much as the Virginia particular plantations had done before
them. Maryland on the whole assumed the features of her elder sister. Her
tobacco was of lower grade, partly because of her long delay in providing
public inspection; her people in consequence were generally less
prosperous, her plantations fewer in proportion to her farms, and her
labor supply more largely of convicts and other white servants and
correspondingly less of negroes. But aside from these variations in degree
the developments and tendencies in the one were virtually those of the

Before the end of the seventeenth century William Fitzhugh of Virginia
wrote that his plantations were being worked by "fine crews" of negroes,
the majority of whom were natives of the colony. Mrs. Elizabeth Digges
owned 108 slaves, John Carter 106, Ralph Wormeley 91, Robert Beverly 42,
Nathaniel Bacon, Sr., 40, and various other proprietors proportionate
numbers.[20] The conquest of the wilderness was wellnigh complete on
tidewater, and the plantation system had reached its full type for
the Chesapeake latitudes. Broad forest stretches divided most of the
plantations from one another and often separated the several fields on
the same estate; but the cause of this was not so much the paucity of
population as the character of the land and the prevalent industry. The
sandy expanses, and the occasional belts of clay likewise, had but a
surface fertility, and the cheapness of land prevented the conservation of
the soil. Hence the fields when rapidly exhausted by successive cropping in
tobacco were as a rule abandoned to broomsedge and scrub timber while new
and still newer grounds were cleared and cropped. Each estate therefore, if
its owner expected it to last a lifetime, must comprise an area in forestry
much larger than that at any one time in tillage. The great reaches of the
bay and the deep tidal rivers, furthermore, afforded such multitudinous
places of landing for ocean-going ships that all efforts to modify the
wholly rural condition of the tobacco colonies by concentrating settlement
were thwarted. It is true that Norfolk and Baltimore grew into consequence
during the eighteenth century; but the one throve mainly on the trade of
landlocked North Carolina, and the other on that of Pennsylvania. Not
until the plantation area had spread well into the piedmont hinterland did
Richmond and her sister towns near the falls on the rivers begin to focus
Virginia and Maryland trade; and even they had little influence upon life
on the tidewater peninsulas.

[Footnote 20: Bruce, _Economic History of Virginia_, II, 88.]

The third tobacco-producing colony, North Carolina, was the product of
secondary colonization. Virginia's expansion happened to send some of
her people across the boundary, where upon finding themselves under the
jurisdiction of the Lord Proprietors of Carolina they took pains to keep
that authority upon a strictly nominal basis. The first comers, about 1660,
and most of those who followed, were and continued to be small farmers; but
in the course of decades a considerable number of plantations arose in the
fertile districts about Albemarle Sound. Nearly everywhere in the lowlands,
however, the land was too barren for any distinct prosperity. The
settlements were quite isolated, the communications very poor, and the
social tone mostly that of the backwoods frontier. An Anglican missionary
when describing his own plight there in 1711 discussed the industrial
regime about him: "Men are generally of all trades and women the like
within their spheres, except some who are the posterity of old planters
and have great numbers of slaves who understand most handicraft. Men are
generally carpenters, joiners, wheelwrights, coopers, butchers, tanners,
shoemakers, tallow-chandlers, watermen and what not; women, soap-makers,
starch-makers, dyers, etc. He or she that cannot do all these things, or
hath not slaves that can, over and above all the common occupations of both
sexes, will have but a bad time of it; for help is not to be had at any
rate, every one having business enough of his own. This makes tradesmen
turn planters, and these become tradesmen. No society one with another, but
all study to live by their own hands, of their own produce; and what they
can spare goes for foreign goods. Nay, many live on a slender diet to buy
rum, sugar and molasses, with other such like necessaries, which are sold
at such a rate that the planter here is but a slave to raise a provision
for other colonies, and dare not allow himself to partake of his own
creatures, except it be the corn of the country in hominy bread."[21] Some
of the farmers and probably all the planters raised tobacco according to
the methods prevalent in Virginia. Some also made tar for sale from the
abounding pine timber; but with most of the families intercourse with
markets must have been at an irreducible minimum.

[Footnote 21: Letter of Rev. John Urmstone, July 7, 1711, to the secretary
of the Society for Propagating the Gospel, printed in F.L. Hawks, _History
of North Carolina_ (Fayetteville, N.C., 1857, 1858), II, 215, 216.]

Tobacco culture, while requiring severe exertion only at a few crises,
involved a long painstaking routine because of the delicacy of the plant
and the difficulty of producing leaf of good quality, whether of the
original varieties, oronoko and sweet-scented, or of the many others later
developed. The seed must be sown in late winter or early spring in a
special bed of deep forest mold dressed with wood ashes; and the fields
must be broken and laid off by shallow furrows into hills three or four
feet apart by the time the seedlings were grown to a finger's length. Then
came the first crisis. During or just after an April, May or June rain the
young plants must be drawn carefully from their beds, distributed in the
fields, and each plant set in its hill. Able-bodied, expert hands could set
them at the rate of thousands a day; and every nerve must be strained for
the task's completion before the ground became dry enough to endanger the
seedlings' lives. Then began a steady repetition of hoeings and plowings,
broken by the rush after a rain to replant the hills whose first plants had
died or grown twisted. Then came also several operations of special tedium.
Each plant at the time of forming its flower bud must be topped at a height
to leave a specified number of leaves growing on the stalk, and each stalk
must have the suckers growing at the base of the leaf-stems pulled off;
and the under side of every leaf must be examined twice at least for the
destruction of the horn-worms. These came each year in two successive
armies or "gluts," the one when the plants were half grown, the other when
they were nearly ready for harvest. When the crop began to turn yellow the
stalks must be cut off close to the ground, and after wilting carried to
a well ventilated tobacco house and there hung speedily for curing. Each
stalk must hang at a proper distance from its neighbor, attached to laths
laid in tiers on the joists. There the crop must stay for some months,
with the windows open in dry weather and closed in wet. Finally came the
striking, sorting and prizing in weather moist enough to make the leaves
pliable. Part of the gang would lower the stalks to the floor, where the
rest working in trios would strip them, the first stripper taking the
culls, the second the bright leaves, the third the remaining ones of dull
color. Each would bind his takings into "hands" of about a quarter of a
pound each and throw them into assorted piles. In the packing or "prizing"
a barefoot man inside the hogshead would lay the bundles in courses,
tramping them cautiously but heavily. Then a second hogshead, without a
bottom, would be set atop the first and likewise filled, and then perhaps
a third, when the whole stack would be put under blocks and levers
compressing the contents into the one hogshead at the bottom, which when
headed up was ready for market. Oftentimes a crop was not cured enough for
prizing until the next crop had been planted. Meanwhile the spare time of
the gang was employed in clearing new fields, tending the subsidiary crops,
mending fences, and performing many other incidental tasks. With some
exaggeration an essayist wrote, "The whole circle of the year is one
scene of bustle and toil, in which tobacco claims a constant and chief

[Footnote 22: C.W. Gooch, "Prize Essay on Agriculture in Virginia," in the
_Lynchburg Virginian_, July 14, 1833. More detailed is W.W. Bowie, "Prize
Essay on the Cultivation and Management of Tobacco," in the U.S. Patent
Office _Report_, 1849-1850, pp. 318-324. E.R. Billings, _Tobacco_
(Hartford, 1875) is a good general treatise.]

The general scale of slaveholdings in the tobacco districts cannot
be determined prior to the close of the American Revolution; but the
statistics then available may be taken as fairly representative for the
eighteenth century at large. A state census taken in certain Virginia
counties in 1782-1783[23] permits the following analysis for eight of them
selected for their large proportions of slaves. These counties, Amelia,
Hanover, Lancaster, Middlesex, New Kent, Richmond, Surry and Warwick, are
scattered through the Tidewater and the lower Piedmont. For each one of
their citizens, fifteen altogether, who held upwards of one hundred slaves,
there were approximately three who had from 50 to 99; seven with from 30 to
49; thirteen with from 20 to 29; forty with from 10 to 19; forty with from
5 to 9; seventy with from 1 to 4; and sixty who had none. In the three
chief plantation counties of Maryland, viz. Ann Arundel, Charles, and
Prince George, the ratios among the slaveholdings of the several scales,
according to the United States census of 1790, were almost identical
with those just noted in the selected Virginia counties, but the
non-slaveholders were nearly twice as numerous in proportion. In all these
Virginia and Maryland counties the average holding ranged between 8.5
and 13 slaves. In the other districts in both commonwealths, where the
plantation system was not so dominant, the average slaveholding was
smaller, of course, and the non-slaveholders more abounding.

[Footnote 23: Printed in lieu of the missing returns of the first U.S.
census, in _Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States:
Virginia_ (Washington, 1908).]

The largest slaveholding in Maryland returned in the census of 1790 was
that of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, comprising 316 slaves. Among the
largest reported in Virginia in 1782-1783 were those of John Tabb, Amelia
County, 257; William Allen, Sussex County, 241; George Chewning, 224, and
Thomas Nelson, 208, in Hanover County; Wilson N. Gary, Fluvanna County,
200; and George Washington, Fairfax County, 188. Since the great planters
occasionally owned several scattered plantations it may be that the
censuses reported some of the slaves under the names of the overseers
rather than under those of the owners; but that such instances were
probably few is indicated by the fact that the holdings of Chewning and
Nelson above noted were each listed by the census takers in several
parcels, with the names of owners and overseers both given.

The great properties were usually divided, even where the lands lay in
single tracts, into several plantations for more convenient operation, each
under a separate overseer or in some cases under a slave foreman. If the
working squads of even the major proprietors were of but moderate scale,
those in the multitude of minor holdings were of course lesser still. On
the whole, indeed, slave industry was organized in smaller units by far
than most writers, whether of romance or history, would have us believe.



The impulse for the formal colonization of Carolina came from Barbados,
which by the time of the Restoration was both overcrowded and torn with
dissension. Sir John Colleton, one of the leading planters in that little
island, proposed to several of his powerful Cavalier friends in England
that they join him in applying for a proprietary charter to the vacant
region between Virginia and Florida, with a view of attracting Barbadians
and any others who might come. In 1663 accordingly the "Merry Monarch"
issued the desired charter to the eight applicants as Lords Proprietors.
They were the Duke of Albemarle, the Earl of Clarendon, Earl Craven, Lord
Ashley (afterward the Earl of Shaftesbury), Lord Berkeley, Sir George
Carteret, Sir William Berkeley, and Sir John Colleton. Most of these had no
acquaintance with America, and none of them had knowledge of Carolina or
purpose of going thither. They expected that the mere throwing open of the
region under their distinguished patronage would bring settlers in a rush;
and to this end they published proposals in England and Barbados offering
lands on liberal terms and providing for a large degree of popular
self-government. A group of Barbadians promptly made a tentative settlement
at the mouth of the Cape Fear River; but finding the soil exceedingly
barren, they almost as promptly scattered to the four winds. Meanwhile in
the more southerly region nothing was done beyond exploring the shore.

Finding their passive policy of no avail, the Lords Proprietors bestirred
themselves in 1669 to the extent of contributing several hundred pounds
each toward planting a colony on their southward coast. At the same time
they adopted the "fundamental constitutions" which John Locke had framed
for the province. These contemplated land grants in huge parcels to a
provincial nobility, and a cumbrous oligarchical government with a minimum
participation of popular representatives. The grandiloquent feudalism of
the scheme appealed so strongly to the aristocratic Lords Proprietors
that in spite of their usual acumen in politics they were blinded to its
conflicts with their charter and to its utter top-heaviness. They rewarded
Locke with the first patent of Carolina nobility, which carried with it
a grant of forty-eight thousand acres. For forty years they clung to the
fundamental constitutions, notwithstanding repeated rejections of them by
the colonists.

The fund of 1669 was used in planting what proved a permanent settlement of
English and Barbadians on the shores of Charleston Harbor. Thereafter the
Lords Proprietors relapsed into passiveness, commissioning a new governor
now and then and occasionally scolding the colonists for disobedience. The
progress of settlement was allowed to take what course it might.

The fundamental constitutions recognized the institution of negro slavery,
and some of the first Barbadians may have carried slaves with them
to Carolina. But in the early decades Indian trading, lumbering and
miscellaneous farming were the only means of livelihood, none of which gave
distinct occasion for employing negroes. The inhabitants, furthermore, had
no surplus income with which to buy slaves. The recruits who continued to
come from the West Indies doubtless brought some blacks for their service;
but the Huguenot exiles from France, who comprised the chief other
streamlet of immigration, had no slaves and little money. Most of the
people were earning their bread by the sweat of their brows. The Huguenots
in particular, settling mainly in the interior on the Cooper and Santee
Rivers, labored with extraordinary diligence and overcame the severest
handicaps. That many of the settlers whether from France or the West Indies
were of talented and sturdy stock is witnessed by the mention of the family
names of Legare, Laurens, Marion and Ravenel among the Huguenots, Drayton,
Elliot, Gibbes and Middleton among the Barbadians, Lowndes and Rawlins
from St. Christopher's, and Pinckney from Jamaica. Some of the people were
sluggards, of course, but the rest, heterogeneous as they were, were living
and laboring as best they might, trying such new projects as they could,
building a free government in spite of the Lords Proprietors, and awaiting
the discovery of some staple resource from which prosperity might be won.

Among the crops tried was rice, introduced from Madagascar by Landgrave
Thomas Smith about 1694, which after some preliminary failures proved so
great a success that from about the end of the seventeenth century its
production became the absorbing concern. Now slaves began to be imported
rapidly. An official account of the colony in 1708[1] reckoned the
population at about 3500 whites, of whom 120 were indentured servants, 4100
negro slaves, and 1400 Indians captured in recent wars and held for the
time being in a sort of slavery. Within the preceding five years, while the
whites had been diminished by an epidemic, the negroes had increased by
about 1,100. The negroes were governed under laws modeled quite closely
upon the slave code of Barbados, with the striking exception that in this
period of danger from Spanish invasion most of the slave men were required
by law to be trained in the use of arms and listed as an auxiliary militia.

[Footnote 1: Text printed in Edward McCrady, _South Carolina under the
Proprietary Government_ (New York, 1897). pp. 477-481.]

During the rest of the colonial period the production of rice advanced at
an accelerating rate and the slave population increased in proportion,
while the whites multiplied somewhat more slowly. Thus in 1724 the whites
were estimated at 14,000, the slaves at 32,000, and the rice export was
about 4000 tons; in 1749 the whites were said to be nearly 25,000, the
slaves at least 39,000, and the rice export some 14,000 tons, valued at
nearly L100,000 sterling;[2] and in 1765 the whites were about 40,000, the
slaves about 90,000, and the rice export about 32,000 tons, worth some
L225,000.[3] Meanwhile the rule of the Lords Proprietors had been replaced
for the better by that of the crown, with South Carolina politically
separated from her northern sister; and indigo had been introduced as a
supplementary staple. The Charleston district was for several decades
perhaps the most prosperous area on the continent.

[Footnote 2: Governor Glen, in B.R. Carroll, _Historical Collections of
South Carolina_ (New York, 1836), II, 218, 234, 266.]

[Footnote 3: McCrady, _South Carolina under the Royal Government_ (New
York, 1899), pp. 389, 390, 807.]

While rice culture did not positively require inundation, it was
facilitated by the periodical flooding of the fields, a practice which was
introduced into the colony about 1724. The best lands for this purpose were
level bottoms with a readily controllable water supply adjacent. During
most of the colonial period the main recourse was to the inland swamps,
which could be flooded only from reservoirs of impounded rain or brooks.
The frequent shortage of water in this regime made the flooding irregular
and necessitated many hoeings of the crop. Furthermore, the dearth of
watersheds within reach of the great cypress swamps on the river borders
hampered the use of these which were the most fertile lands in the colony.
Beginning about 1783 there was accordingly a general replacement of the
reservoir system by the new one of tide-flowing.[4] For this method tracts
were chosen on the flood-plains of streams whose water was fresh but whose
height was controlled by the tide. The land lying between the levels of
high and low tide was cleared, banked along the river front and on the
sides, elaborately ditched for drainage, and equipped with "trunks" or
sluices piercing the front embankment. On a frame above either end of each
trunk a door was hung on a horizontal pivot and provided with a ratchet.
When the outer door was raised above the mouth of the trunk and the inner
door was lowered, the water in the stream at high tide would sluice through
and flood the field, whereas at low tide the water pressure from the land
side would shut the door and keep the flood in. But when the elevation of
the doors was reversed the tide would be kept out and at low tide any water
collected in the ditches from rain or seepage was automatically drained
into the river. Occasional cross embankments divided the fields for greater
convenience of control. The tide-flow system had its own limitations and
handicaps. Many of the available tracts were so narrow that the cost of
embankment was very high in proportion to the area secured; and hurricanes
from oceanward sometimes raised the streams until they over-topped the
banks and broke them. If these invading waters were briny the standing crop
would be killed and the soil perhaps made useless for several years until
fresh water had leached out the salt. At many places, in fact, the water
for the routine flowing of the crop had to be inspected and the time
awaited when the stream was not brackish.

[Footnote 4: David Ramsay, _History of South Carolina_ (Charleston, 1809),
II, 201-206.]

Economy of operation required cultivation in fairly large units. Governor
Glen wrote about 1760, "They reckon thirty slaves a proper number for a
rice plantation, and to be tended by one overseer."[5] Upon the resort to
tide-flowing the scale began to increase. For example, Sir James Wright,
governor of Georgia, had in 1771 eleven plantations on the Savannah,
Ogeechee and Canoochee Rivers, employing from 33 to 72 slaves each,
the great majority of whom were working hands.[6] At the middle of the
nineteenth century the single plantation of Governor Aiken on Jehossee
Island, South Carolina, of which more will be said in another chapter, had
some seven hundred slaves of all ages.

[Footnote 5: Carroll, _Historical Collections of South Carolina_, II, 202.]

[Footnote 6: American Historical Association _Report_ for 1903, p. 445.]

In spite of many variations in the details of cultivation, the tide-flow
system led to a fairly general standard of routine. After perhaps a
preliminary breaking of the soil in the preceding fall, operations began in
the early spring with smoothing the fields and trenching them with narrow
hoes into shallow drills about three inches wide at the bottom and twelve
or fourteen inches apart. In these between March and May the seed rice was
carefully strewn and the water at once let on for the "sprout flow." About
a week later the land was drained and kept so until the plants appeared
plentifully above ground. Then a week of "point flow" was followed by a
fortnight of dry culture in which the spaces between the rows were lightly
hoed and the weeds amidst the rice pulled up. Then came the "long flow"
for two or three weeks, followed by more vigorous hoeing, and finally
the "lay-by flow" extending for two or three months until the crop, then
standing shoulder high and thick with bending heads, was ready for harvest.
The flowings served a triple purpose in checking the weeds and grass,
stimulating the rice, and saving the delicate stalks from breakage and
matting by storms.

A curious item in the routine just before the grain was ripe was the
guarding of the crop from destruction by rice birds. These bobolinks timed
their southward migration so as to descend upon the fields in myriads when
the grain was "in the milk." At that stage the birds, clinging to the
stalks, could squeeze the substance from within each husk by pressure of
the beak. Negroes armed with guns were stationed about the fields with
instructions to fire whenever a drove of the birds alighted nearby. This
fusillade checked but could not wholly prevent the bobolink ravages. To
keep the gunners from shattering the crop itself they were generally given
charges of powder only; but sufficient shot was issued to enable the guards
to kill enough birds for the daily consumption of the plantation. When
dressed and broiled they were such fat and toothsome morsels that in their
season other sorts of meat were little used.

For the rice harvest, beginning early in September, as soon as a field was
drained the negroes would be turned in with sickles, each laborer cutting
a swath of three or four rows, leaving the stubble about a foot high to
sustain the cut stalks carefully laid upon it in handfuls for a day's
drying. Next day the crop would be bound in sheaves and stacked for a brief
curing. When the reaping was done the threshing began, and then followed
the tedious labor of separating the grain from its tightly adhering husk.
In colonial times the work was mostly done by hand, first the flail for
threshing, then the heavy fat-pine pestle and mortar for breaking off the
husk. Finally the rice was winnowed of its chaff, screened of the "rice
flour" and broken grain, and barreled for market.[7]

[Footnote 7: The best descriptions of the rice industry are Edmund Ruffin,
_Agricultural Survey of South Carolina_ (Columbia, S.C. 1843); and R.F.W.
Allston, _Essay on Sea Coast Crops_ (Charleston, 1854), which latter is
printed also in _DeBow's Review_, XVI, 589-615.]

The ditches and pools in and about the fields of course bred swarms of
mosquitoes which carried malaria to all people subject. Most of the whites
were afflicted by that disease in the warmer half of the year, but the
Africans were generally immune. Negro labor was therefore at such a premium
that whites were virtually never employed on the plantations except as
overseers and occasionally as artisans. In colonial times the planters,
except the few quite wealthy ones who had town houses in Charleston, lived
on their places the year round; but at the close of the eighteenth century
they began to resort in summer to "pine land" villages within an hour or
two's riding distance from their plantations. In any case the intercourse
between the whites and blacks was notably less than in the tobacco region,
and the progress of the negroes in civilization correspondingly
slighter. The plantations were less of homesteads and more of business
establishments; the race relations, while often cordial, were seldom

The introduction of indigo culture was achieved by one of America's
greatest women, Eliza Lucas, afterward the wife of Charles Pinckney
(chief-justice of the province) and mother of the two patriot statesmen
Thomas and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. Her father, the governor of the
British island of Antigua, had been prompted by his wife's ill health
to settle his family in South Carolina, where the three plantations he
acquired near Charleston were for several years under his daughter's
management. This girl while attending her father's business found time to
keep up her music and her social activities, to teach a class of young
negroes to read, and to carry on various undertakings in economic botany.
In 1741 her experiments with cotton, guinea-corn and ginger were defeated
by frost, and alfalfa proved unsuited to her soil; but in spite of two
preliminary failures that year she raised some indigo plants with success.
Next year her father sent a West Indian expert named Cromwell to manage her
indigo crop and prepare its commercial product. But Cromwell, in fear of
injuring the prosperity of his own community, purposely mishandled the
manufacturing. With the aid of a neighbor, nevertheless, Eliza not only
detected Cromwell's treachery but in the next year worked out the true
process. She and her father now distributed indigo seed to a number of
planters; and from 1744 the crop began to reach the rank of a staple.[8]
The arrival of Carolina indigo at London was welcomed so warmly that in
1748 Parliament established a bounty of sixpence a pound on indigo produced
in the British dominions. The Carolina output remained of mediocre quality
until in 1756 Moses Lindo, after a career in the indigo trade in London,
emigrated to Charleston and began to teach the planters to distinguish the
grades and manufacture the best.[9] At excellent prices, ranging generally
from four to six shillings a pound, the indigo crop during the rest of the
colonial period, reaching a maximum output of somewhat more than a million
pounds from some twenty thousand acres in the crop, yielded the community
about half as much gross income as did its rice. The net earnings of the
planters were increased in a still greater proportion than this, for the
work-seasons in the two crops could be so dovetailed that a single gang
might cultivate both staples.

[Footnote 8: _Journal and Letters of Eliza Lucas_ (Wormesloe, Ga., 1850);
Mrs. St. Julien Ravenel, _Eliza Pinckney_ (New York, 1896); _Plantation and
Frontier_, I, 265, 266.]

[Footnote 9: B.A. Elzas, _The Jews of South Carolina_ (Philadelphia, 1905),
chap. 3.]

Indigo grew best in the light, dry soil so common on the coastal plain.
From seed sown in the early spring the plant would reach its full growth,
from three to six feet high, and begin to bloom in June or early July. At
that stage the plants were cut off near the ground and laid under water in
a shallow vat for a fermentation which in the course of some twelve hours
took the dye-stuff out of the leaves. The solution then drawn into another
vat was vigorously beaten with paddles for several hours to renew and
complete the foaming fermentation. Samples were taken at frequent intervals
during the latter part of this process, and so soon as a blue tinge became
apparent lime water, in carefully determined proportions, was gently
stirred in to stop all further action and precipitate the "blueing." When
this had settled, the water was drawn off, the paste on the floor was
collected, drained in bags, kneaded, pressed, cut into cubes, dried in the
shade and packed for market.[10] A second crop usually sprang from the
roots of the first and was harvested in August or September.

[Footnote 10: B.R. Carroll, _Historical Collections of South Carolina_, II,

Indigo production was troublesome and uncertain of results. Not only did
the furrows have to be carefully weeded and the caterpillars kept off the
plants, but when the stalks were being cut and carried to the vats great
pains were necessary to keep the bluish bloom on the leaves from being
rubbed off and lost, and the fermentation required precise control for
the sake of quality in the product.[11] The production of the blue staple
virtually ended with the colonial period. The War of Independence not only
cut off the market for the time being but ended permanently, of course, the
receipt of the British bounty. When peace returned the culture was revived
in a struggling way; but its vexations and vicissitudes made it promptly
give place to sea-island cotton.[12]

[Footnote 11: Johann David Schoepf, _Travels in the Confederation,
1783-1784_, A.J. Morrison tr. (Philadelphia, 1911), pp. 187-189.]

[Footnote 12: David Ramsay, _History of South Carolina_, II, 212; D.D.
Wallace, _Life of Henry Laurens_, p. 132.]

The plantation of the rice-coast type had clearly shown its tendency to
spread into all the suitable areas from Winyah Bay to St. John's River,
when its southward progress was halted for a time by the erection of
the peculiar province of Georgia. The launching of this colony was the
beginning of modern philanthropy. Upon procuring a charter in 1732
constituting them trustees of Georgia, James Oglethorpe and his colleagues
began to raise funds from private donations and parliamentary grants for
use in colonizing English debtor-prisoners and other unfortunates. The
beneficiaries, chosen because of their indigence, were transported at the
expense of the trust and given fifty-acre homesteads with equipment and
supplies. Instruction in agriculture was provided for them at Savannah, and
various regulations were established for making them soberly industrious on
a small-farming basis. The land could not be alienated, and neither slaves
nor rum could be imported. Persons immigrating at their own expense might
procure larger land grants, but no one could own more than five hundred
acres; and all settlers must plant specified numbers of grape vines and
mulberry trees with a view to establishing wine and silk as the staples of
the colony.

In the first few years, while Oglethorpe was in personal charge at Savannah
and supplies from England were abundant, there was an appearance of
success, which soon proved illusory. Not only were the conditions unfit
for silk and wine, but the fertile tracts were malarial and the healthy
districts barren, and every industry suited to the climate had to meet the
competition of the South Carolinians with their slave labor and plantation
system. The ne'er-do-weels from England proved ne'er-do-weels again. They
complained of the soil, the climate, and the paternalistic regulations
under which they lived. They protested against the requirements of silk and
wine culture; they begged for the removal of all peculiar restrictions and
for the institution of self-government They bombarded the trustees with
petitions saying "rum punch is very wholesome in this climate," asking
fee-simple title to their lands, and demanding most vigorously the right of
importing slaves. But the trustees were deaf to complaints. They maintained
that the one thing lacking for prosperity from silk and wine was
perseverance, that the restriction on land tenure was necessary on the one
hand to keep an arms-bearing population in the colony and on the other
hand to prevent the settlers from contracting debts by mortgage, that the
prohibitions of rum and slaves were essential safeguards of sobriety and
industry, and that discontent under the benevolent care of the trustees
evidenced a perversity on the part of the complainants which would
disqualify them for self-government. Affairs thus reached an impasse.
Contributions stopped; Parliament gave merely enough money for routine
expenses; the trustees lost their zeal but not their crotchets; the colony
went from bad to worse. Out of perhaps five thousand souls in Georgia about
1737 so many departed to South Carolina and other free settlements that in
1741 there were barely more than five hundred left. This extreme depression
at length forced even the staunchest of the trustees to relax. First the
exclusion of rum was repealed, then the introduction of slaves on lease
was winked at, then in 1749 and 1750 the overt importation of slaves was
authorized and all restrictions on land tenure were canceled. Finally the
stoppage of the parliamentary subvention in 1751 forced the trustees in the
following year to resign their charter.

Slaveholders had already crossed the Savannah River in appreciable
numbers to erect plantations on favorable tracts. The lapse of a few
more transition years brought Georgia to the status on the one hand of a
self-governing royal province and on the other of a plantation community
prospering, modestly for the time being, in the production of rice and
indigo. Her peculiarities under the trustee regime were gone but not
forgotten. The rigidity of paternalism, well meant though it had been, was
a lesson against future submission to outward control in any form; and
their failure as a peasantry in competition with planters across the river
persuaded the Georgians and their neighbors that slave labor was essential
for prosperity.

It is curious, by the way, that the tender-hearted, philanthropic
Oglethorpe at the very time of his founding Georgia was the manager of the
great slave-trading corporation, the Royal African Company. The conflict of
the two functions cannot be relieved except by one of the greatest of all
reconciling considerations, the spirit of the time. Whatever else the
radicals of that period might wish to reform or abolish, the slave trade
was held either as a matter of course or as a positive benefit to the
people who constituted its merchandise.

The narrow limits of the rice and indigo regime in the two colonies
made the plantation system the more dominant in its own area. Detailed
statistics are lacking until the first federal census, when indigo was
rapidly giving place to sea-island cotton; but the requirements of the new
staple differed so little from those of the old that the plantations near
the end of the century were without doubt on much the same scale as before
the Revolution. In the four South Carolina parishes of St. Andrew's, St.
John's Colleton, St. Paul's and St. Stephen's the census-takers of 1790
found 393 slaveholders with an average of 33.7 slaves each, as compared
with a total of 28 non-slaveholding families. In these and seven more
parishes, comprising together the rural portion of the area known
politically as the Charleston District, there were among the 1643 heads of
families 1318 slaveholders owning 42,949 slaves. William Blake had 695;
Ralph Izard had 594 distributed on eight plantations in three parishes,
and ten more at his Charleston house; Nathaniel Heyward had 420 on his
plantations and 13 in Charleston; William Washington had 380 in the country
and 13 in town; and three members of the Horry family had 340, 229 and 222
respectively in a single neighborhood. Altogether there were 79 separate
parcels of a hundred slaves or more, 156 of between fifty and ninety-nine,
318 of between twenty and forty-nine, 251 of between ten and nineteen, 206
of from five to nine, and 209 of from two to four, 96 of one slave each,
and 3 whose returns in the slave column are illegible.[13] The statistics
of the Georgetown and Beaufort districts, which comprised the rest of the
South Carolina coast, show a like analysis except for a somewhat larger
proportion of non-slaveholders and very small slaveholders, who were,
of course, located mostly in the towns and on the sandy stretches of
pine-barren. The detailed returns for Georgia in that census have been
lost. Were those for her coastal area available they would surely show a
similar tendency toward slaveholding concentration.

[Footnote 13: _Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States,
1790: State of South Carolina_ (Washington, 1908); _A Century of Population
Growth_ (Washington, 1909), pp. 190, 191, 197, 198.]

Avenues of transportation abundantly penetrated the whole district in the
form of rivers, inlets and meandering tidal creeks. Navigation on them was
so easy that watermen to the manner born could float rafts or barges for
scores of miles in any desired direction, without either sails or oars, by
catching the strong ebb and flow of the tides at the proper points. But
unlike the Chesapeake estuaries, the waterways of the rice coast were
generally too shallow for ocean-going vessels. This caused a notable
growth of seaports on the available harbors. Of those in South Carolina,
Charleston stood alone in the first rank, flanked by Georgetown and
Beaufort. In the lesser province of Georgia, Savannah found supplement in
Darien and Sunbury. The two leading ports were also the seats of government
in their respective colonies. Charleston was in fact so complete a focus
of commerce, politics and society that South Carolina was in a sense a

The towns were in sentiment and interest virtually a part of the plantation
community. The merchants were plantation factors; the lawyers and doctors
had country patrons; the wealthiest planters were town residents from time
to time; and many prospering townsmen looked toward plantation retirement,
carrying as it did in some degree the badge of gentility, as the crown of
their careers. Furthermore the urban negroes, more numerous proportionately
than anywhere else on the continent, kept the citizens as keenly alive
as the planters to the intricacies of racial adjustments. For example
Charleston, which in 1790 had 8089 whites, 7864 slaves and 586 free
negroes, felt as great anxiety as did the rural parishes at rumors of
slave conspiracies, and on the other hand she had a like interest in the
improvement of negro efficiency, morality and good will.

The rice coast community was a small one. Even as measured in its number
of slaves it bulked only one-fourth as large, say in 1790, as the group of
tobacco commonwealths or the single sugar island of Jamaica. Nevertheless
it was a community to be reckoned with. Its people were awake to their
peculiar conditions and problems; it had plenty of talented citizens to
formulate policies; and it had excellent machinery for uniting public
opinion. In colonial times, plying its trade mainly with England and the
West Indies, it was in little touch with its continental neighbors, and it
developed a sense of separateness. As part of a loosely administered
empire its people were content in prosperity and self-government. But in a
consolidated nation of diverse and conflicting interests it would be likely
on occasion to assert its own will and resist unitedly anything savoring of
coercion. In a double sense it was of the _southern_ South.



Had any American colony been kept wholly out of touch with both Indians
and negroes, the history of slavery therein would quite surely have been
a blank. But this was the case nowhere. A certain number of Indians were
enslaved in nearly every settlement as a means of disposing of captives
taken in war; and negro slaves were imported into every prosperous colony
as a mere incident of its prosperity. Among the Quakers the extent of
slaveholding was kept small partly, or perhaps mainly, by scruples of
conscience; in virtually all other cases the scale was determined by
industrial conditions. Here the plantation system flourished and slaves
were many; there the climate prevented profits from crude gang labor in
farming, and slaves were few.

The nature and causes of the contrast will appear from comparing the
careers of two Puritan colonies launched at the same time but separated by
some thirty degrees of north latitude. The one was planted on the island
of Old Providence lying off the coast of Nicaragua, the other was on the
shores of Massachusetts bay. The founders of Old Providence were a score of
Puritan dignitaries, including the Earl of Warwick, Lord Saye and Sele, and
John Pym, incorporated into the Westminster Company in 1630 with a
combined purpose of erecting a Puritanic haven and gaining profits for
the investors. The soil of the island was known to be fertile, the nearby
Spanish Main would yield booty to privateers, and a Puritan government
would maintain orthodoxy. These enticements were laid before John Winthrop
and his companions; and when they proved steadfast in the choice of New
England, several hundred others of their general sort embraced the tropical
Providence alternative. Equipped as it was with all the apparatus of a "New
England Canaan," the founders anticipated a far greater career than seemed
likely of achievement in Massachusetts. Prosperity came at once in the form
of good crops and rich prizes taken at sea. Some of the latter contained
cargoes of negro slaves, as was of course expected, who were distributed
among the settlers to aid in raising tobacco; and when a certain Samuel
Rishworth undertook to spread ideas of liberty among them he was officially
admonished that religion had no concern with negro slavery and that
his indiscretions must stop. Slaves were imported so rapidly that the
outnumbered whites became apprehensive of rebellion. In the hope of
promoting the importation of white labor, so greatly preferable from the
public point of view, heavy impositions were laid upon the employment
of negroes, but with no avail. The apprehension of evils was promptly
justified. A number of the blacks escaped to the mountains where they dwelt
as maroons; and in 1638 a concerted uprising proved so formidable that the
suppression of it strained every resource of the government and the white
inhabitants. Three years afterward the weakened settlement was captured
by a Spanish fleet; and this was the end of the one Puritan colony in the

[Footnote 1: A.P. Newton, _The Colonizing Activities of the English
Puritans_ (New Haven, 1914).]

Massachusetts was likewise inaugurated by a corporation of Puritans, which
at the outset endorsed the institution of unfree labor, in a sense, by
sending over from England 180 indentured servants to labor on the company's
account. A food shortage soon made it clear that in the company's service
they could not earn their keep; and in 1630 the survivors of them were set
free.[2] Whether freedom brought them bread or whether they died of famine,
the records fail to tell. At any rate the loss of the investment in their
transportation, and the chagrin of the officials, materially hastened the
conversion of the colony from a company enterprise into an industrial
democracy. The use of unfree labor nevertheless continued on a private
basis and on a relatively small scale. Until 1642 the tide of Puritan
immigration continued, some of the newcomers of good estate bringing
servants in their train. The authorities not only countenanced this but
forbade the freeing of servants before the ends of their terms, and in at
least one instance the court fined a citizen for such a manumission.[3]
Meanwhile the war against the Pequots in 1637 yielded a number of
captives, whereupon the squaws and girls were distributed in the towns of
Massachusetts and Connecticut, and a parcel of the boys was shipped off
to the tropics in the Salem ship _Desire_. On its return voyage this
thoroughly Puritan vessel brought from Old Providence a cargo of tobacco,
cotton, and negroes.[4] About this time the courts began to take notice
of Indians as runaways; and in 1641 a "blackmore," Mincarry, procured the
inscription of his name upon the public records by drawing upon himself
an admonition from the magistrates.[5] This negro, it may safely be
conjectured, was not a freeman. That there were at least several other
blacks in the colony, one of whom proved unamenable to her master's
improper command, is told in the account of a contemporary traveler.[6] In
the same period, furthermore, the central court of the colony condemned
certain white criminals to become slaves to masters whom the court
appointed.[7] In the light of these things the pro-slavery inclination of
the much-disputed paragraph in the Body of Liberties, adopted in 1641,
admits of no doubt. The passage reads: "There shall never be any bond
slaverie, villinage or captivitie amongst us unles it be lawfull captives
taken in just warres, and such strangers as willingly selle themselves or
are sold to us. And these shall have all the liberties and Christian usages
which the law of God established in Israell concerning such persons doeth
morally require. This exempts none from servitude who shall be judged
thereto by authoritie."[8]

[Footnote 2: Thomas Dudley, _Letter_ to the Countess of Lincoln, in Alex.
Young, _Chronicles of the First Planters of Massachusetts Boy_ (Boston,
1846), p. 312.]

[Footnote 3: _Records of the Court of Assistants of the Colony of
Massachusetts Bay, 1630-1692_ (Boston, 1904), pp. 135, 136.]

[Footnote 4: Letter of John Winthrop to William Bradford, Massachusetts
Historical Society _Collections_, XXXIII, 360; Winthrop, _Journal_
(Original Narratives edition, New York, 1908), I, 260.]

[Footnote 5: _Records of the Court of Assistants_, p. 118.]

[Footnote 6: John Josslyn, "Two Voyages to New England," in Massachusetts
Historical Society _Collections_, XXIII, 231.]

[Footnote 7: _Records of the Court of Assistants_, pp. 78, 79, 86.]

[Footnote 8: Massachusetts Historical Society _Collections_, XXVIII, 231.]

On the whole it seems that the views expressed a few years later by Emanuel
Downing in a letter to his brother-in-law John Winthrop were not seriously
out of harmony with the prevailing sentiment. Downing was in hopes of a war
with the Narragansetts for two reasons, first to stop their "worship of the
devill," and "2lie, If upon a just warre the Lord should deliver them into
our hands, we might easily have men, women and children enough to exchange
for Moores,[9] which wil be more gaynful pilladge for us than wee conceive,
for I doe not see how wee can thrive untill wee get into a stock of slaves
sufficient to doe all our buisines, for our children's children will hardly
see this great continent filled with people, soe that our servants will
still desire freedome to plant for themselves, and not stay but for verie
great wages.[10] And I suppose you know verie well how we shall mayntayne
20 Moores cheaper than one Englishe servant."

[Footnote 9: I. e. negroes.]

[Footnote 10: Massachusetts Historical Society _Collections_, XXXVI. 65.]

When the four colonies, Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut and New Haven,
created the New England Confederation in 1643 for joint and reciprocal
action in matters of common concern, they provided not only for the
intercolonial rendition of runaway servants, including slaves of course,
but also for the division of the spoils of Indian wars, "whether it be in
lands, goods or persons," among the participating colonies.[11] But perhaps
the most striking action taken by the Confederation in these regards was
a resolution adopted by its commissioners in 1646, in time of peace
and professedly in the interests of peace, authorizing reprisals for
depredations. This provided that if any citizen's property suffered injury
at the hands of an Indian, the offender's village or any other which
had harbored him might be raided and any inhabitants thereof seized in
satisfaction "either to serve or to be shipped out and exchanged for
negroes as the cause will justly beare."[12] Many of these captives were in
fact exported as merchandise, whether as private property or on the public
account of the several colonies.[13] The value of Indians for export was
greater than for local employment by reason of their facility in escaping
to their tribal kinsmen. Toward the end of the seventeenth century,
however, there was some importation of "Spanish Indians" as slaves.[14]

[Footnote 11: _New Haven Colonial Records_, 1653-1665, pp. 562-566.]

[Footnote 12: _Plymouth Records_, IX, 71.]

[Footnote 13: G.H. Moore, _Notes on the History of Slavery in
Massachusetts_ (New York, 1866), pp. 30-48.]

[Footnote 14: Cotton Mather, "Diary," in Massachusetts Historical Society
_Collections_, LXVII, 22, 203.]

An early realization that the price of negroes also was greater than the
worth of their labor under ordinary circumstances in New England led the
Yankee participants in the African trade to market their slave cargoes in
the plantation colonies instead of bringing them home. Thus John Winthrop
entered in his journal in 1645: "One of our ships which went to the
Canaries with pipestaves in the beginning of November last returned now
and brought wine and sugar and salt, and some tobacco, which she had at
Barbadoes in exchange for Africoes which she carried from the Isle of
Maio."[15] In their domestic industry the Massachusetts people found
by experience that "many hands make light work, many hands make a full
fraught, but many mouths eat up all";[16] and they were shrewd enough to
apply the adage in keeping the scale of their industrial units within the
frugal requirements of their lives.

[Footnote 15: Winthrop, _Journal_, II, 227.]

[Footnote 16: John Josslyn, "Two Voyages to New England," in Massachusetts
Historical Society _Collections_, XXIII, 332.]

That the laws of Massachusetts were enforced with special severity against
the blacks is indicated by two cases before the central court in 1681, both
of them prosecutions for arson. Maria, a negress belonging to Joshua Lamb
of Roxbury, having confessed the burning of two dwellings, was sentenced by
the Governor "yt she should goe from the barr to the prison whence she
came and thence to the place of execution and there be burnt.--ye Lord be
mercifull to thy soule, sd ye Govr." The other was Jack, a negro belonging
to Samuel Wolcott of Weathersfield, who upon conviction of having set fire
to a residence by waving a fire brand about in search of victuals, was
condemned to be hanged until dead and then burned to ashes in the fire with
the negress Maria.[17]

[Footnote 17: _Records of the Court of Assistants, 1630-1692_ (Boston,
1901), p. 198.]

In this period it seems that Indian slaves had almost disappeared, and
the number of negroes was not great enough to call for special police
legislation. Governor Bradstreet, for example, estimated the "blacks or
slaves" in the colony in 1680 at "about one hundred or one hundred and
twenty."[18] But in 1708 Governor Dudley reckoned the number in Boston at
four hundred, one-half of whom he said had been born there, and those in
the rest of the colony at one hundred and fifty; and in the following
decades their number steadily mounted, as a concomitant of the colony's
increasing prosperity, until on the eve of the American Revolution they
were reckoned at well above five thousand. Although they never exceeded two
per cent. of the gross population, their presence prompted characteristic
legislation dating from about the beginning of the eighteenth century.
This on one hand taxed the importation of negros unless they were promptly
exported again on the other hand it forbade trading with slaves, restrained
manumission, established a curfew, provided for the whipping of any
negro or mulatto who should strike a "Christian," and prohibited the
intermarriage of the races. On the other hand it gave the slaves the
privilege of legal marriage with persons of their own race, though it did
not attempt to prevent the breaking up of such a union by the sale and
removal of the husband or wife.[19] Regarding the status of children there
was no law enacted, and custom ruled. The children born of Indian slave
mothers appear generally to have been liberated, for as willingly would a
man nurse a viper in his bosom as keep an aggrieved and able-bodied redskin
in his household. But as to negro children, although they were valued so
slightly that occasionally it is said they were given to any one who would
take them, there can be no reasonable doubt that by force of custom they
were the property of the owners of their mothers.[20]

[Footnote 18: Massachusetts Historical Society _Collections_, XXVIII, 337.]

[Footnote 19: Moore, _Slavery in Massachusetts_, pp. 52-55.]

[Footnote 20: _Ibid_., pp. 20-27.]

The New Englanders were "a plain people struggling for existence in a
poor wilderness.... Their lives were to the last degree matter of
fact, realistic, hard." [21] Shrewd in consequence of their poverty,
self-righteous in consequence of their religion, they took their
slave-trading and their slaveholding as part of their day's work and as
part of God's goodness to His elect. In practical effect the policy of
colonial Massachusetts toward the backward races merits neither praise nor
censure; it was merely commonplace.

[Footnote 21: C.F. Adams, _Massachusetts, its Historians and its History_
(Boston, 1893), p. 106.]

What has been said in general of Massachusetts will apply with almost equal
fidelity to Connecticut.[22] The number of negroes in that colony was
hardly appreciable before 1720. In that year Governor Leete when replying
to queries from the English committee on trade and plantations took
occasion to emphasize the poverty of his people, and said as to bond labor:
"There are but fewe servants amongst us, and less slaves; not above 30, as
we judge, in the colony. For English, Scotts and Irish, there are so few
come in that we cannot give a certain acco[un]t. Some yeares come none;
sometimes a famaly or two in a year. And for Blacks, there comes sometimes
3 or 4 in a year from Barbadoes; and they are sold usually at the rate of
22l a piece, sometimes more and sometimes less, according as men can agree
with the master of vessels or merchants that bring them hither." Few
negroes had been born in the colony, "and but two blacks christened, as we
know of."[23] A decade later the development of a black code was begun by
an enactment declaring that any negro, mulatto, or Indian servant wandering
outside his proper town without a pass would be accounted a runaway and
might be seized by any person and carried before a magistrate for return to
his master. A free negro so apprehended without a pass must pay the court
costs. An act of 1702 discouraged manumission by ordering that if any
freed negroes should come to want, their former owners were to be held
responsible for their maintenance. Then came legislation forbidding the
sale of liquors to slaves without special orders from their masters,
prohibiting the purchase of goods from slaves without such orders, and
providing a penalty of not more than thirty lashes for any negro who should
offer to strike a white person; and finally a curfew law, in 1723, ordering
not above ten lashes for the negro, and a fine of ten shillings upon the
master, for every slave without a pass apprehended for being out of doors
after nine o'clock at night.[24] These acts, which remained in effect
throughout the colonial period, constituted a code of slave police which
differed only in degree and fullness from those enacted by the more
southerly colonies in the same generation. A somewhat unusual note,
however, was struck in an act of 1730 which while penalizing with stripes
the speaking by a slave of such words as would be actionable if uttered by
a free person provided that in his defence the slave might make the same
pleas and offer the same evidence as a freeman. The number of negroes in
the colony rose to some 6500 at the eve of the American Revolution. Most
of them were held in very small parcels, but at least one citizen, Captain
John Perkins of Norwich, listed fifteen slaves in his will.

[Footnote 22: The scanty materials available are summarized in B.C.
Steiner, _History of Slavery in Connecticut_ (Johns Hopkins University
_Studies_, XI, nos. 9, 10, Baltimore, 1893), pp. 9-23, 84. See also W.C.
Fowler, "The Historical Status of the Negro in Connecticut," in the
_Historical Magazine and Notes and Queries_, III, 12-18, 81-85, 148-153,

[Footnote 23: _Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut_, III, 298.]

[Footnote 24: _Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut_, IV, 40, 376;
V, 52, 53; VI, 390, 391.]

Rhode Island was distinguished from her neighbors by her diversity and
liberalism in religion, by her great activity in the African slave trade,
and by the possession of a tract of unusually fertile soil. This last,
commonly known as the Narragansett district and comprised in the two
so-called towns of North and South Kingstown, lay on the western shore of
the bay, in the southern corner of the colony. Prosperity from tillage,
and especially from dairying and horse-breeding, caused the rise in that
neighborhood of landholdings and slaveholdings on a scale more commensurate
with those in Virginia than with those elsewhere in New England. The
Hazards, Champlins, Robinsons, and some others accumulated estates ranging
from five to ten thousand acres in extent, each with a corps of bondsmen
somewhat in proportion. In 1730, for example, South Kingstown had a
population of 965 whites, 333 negroes and 233 Indians; and for a number
of years afterward those who may safely be assumed to have been bondsmen,
white, red and black, continued to be from a third to a half as many as the
free inhabitants.[25] It may be noted that the prevalent husbandry was not
such as generally attracted unfree labor in other districts, and that the
climate was poorly suited to a negro population. The question then arises,
Why was there so large a recourse to negro slave labor? The answer probably
lies in the proximity of Newport, the main focus of African trading in
American ships. James Browne wrote in 1737 from Providence, which was also
busy in the trade, to his brother Obadiah who was then in Southern waters
with an African cargo and who had reported poor markets: "If you cannot
sell all your slaves to your mind, bring some of them home; I believe they
will sell well." [26] This bringing of remainders home doubtless enabled
the nearby townsmen and farmers to get slaves from time to time at bargain
prices. The whole colony indeed came to have a relatively large proportion
of blacks. In 1749 there were 33,773 whites and 3077 negroes; in 1756 there
were 35,939 and 4697 respectively; and in 1774, 59,707 and 3668. Of this
last number Newport contained 1246, South Kingstown 440, Providence 303,
Portsmouth 122, and Bristol 114.[27]

[Footnote 25: Edward Channing, _The Narragansett Planters_ (Johns Hopkins
University _Studies_, IV, no. 3, Baltimore, 1886).]

[Footnote 26: Gertrude S. Kimball, _Providence in Colonial Times_ (Boston,
1912), p. 247.]

[Footnote 27: W.D. Johnston, "Slavery in Rhode Island, 1755-1776," in Rhode
Island Historical Society _Publications_, new series, II, 126, 127.]

The earliest piece of legislation in Rhode Island concerning negroes was of
an anti-slavery character. This was an act adopted by the joint government
of Providence and Warwick in 1652, when for the time being those towns were
independent of the rest. It required, under a penalty of L40, that all
negroes be freed after having rendered ten years of service.[28] This
act may be attributed partly perhaps to the liberal influence of Roger
Williams, and partly to the virtual absence of negroes in the towns near
the head of the bay. It long stood unrepealed, but it was probably never
enforced, for no sooner did negroes become numerous than a conservative
reaction set in which deprived this peculiar law of any public sanction it
may have had at the time of enactment. When in the early eighteenth century
legislation was resumed in regard to negroes, it took the form of a slave
code much like that of Connecticut but with an added act, borrowed perhaps
from a Southern colony, providing that slaves charged with theft be tried
by impromptu courts consisting of two or more justices of the peace or town
officers, and that appeal might be taken to a court of regular session only
at the master's request and upon his giving bond for its prosecution. Some
of the towns, furthermore, added by-laws of their own for more thorough
police. South Kingstown for instance adopted an order that if any slave
were found in the house of a free negro, both guest and host were to be
whipped.[29] The Rhode Island Quakers in annual meeting began as early as
1717 to question the propriety of importing slaves, and other persons from
time to time echoed their sentiments; but it was not until just before the
American Revolution that legislation began to interfere with the trade or
the institution.

[Footnote 28: _Rhode Island Colonial Records_, I, 243.]

[Footnote 29: Channing, _The Narragansett Planters_, p. 11.]

The colonies of Plymouth and New Haven in the period of their separate
existence, and the colonies of Maine and New Hampshire throughout their
careers, are negligible in a general account of negro slavery because
their climate and their industrial requirements, along with their poverty,
prevented them from importing any appreciable number of negroes.

New Netherland had the distinction of being founded and governed by a great
slave-trading corporation--the Dutch West India Company--which endeavored
to extend the market for its human merchandise whithersoever its influence
reached. This pro-slavery policy was not wholly selfish, for the directors
appear to have believed that the surest way to promote a colony's welfare
was to make slaves easy to buy. In the infancy of New Netherland, when it
consisted merely of two trading posts, the company delivered its first
batch of negroes at New Amsterdam. But to its chagrin, the settlers would
buy very few; and even the company's grant of great patroonship estates
failed to promote a plantation regime. Devoting their energies more to the
Indian trade than to agriculture, the people had little use for farm hands,
while in domestic service, if the opinion of the Reverend Jonas Michaelius
be a true index, the negroes were found "thievish, lazy and useless trash."
It might perhaps be surmised that the Dutch were too easy-going for success
in slave management, were it not that those who settled in Guiana became
reputed the severest of all plantation masters. The bulk of the slaves in
New Netherland, left on the company's hands, were employed now in building
fortifications, now in tillage. But the company, having no adequate means
of supervising them in routine, changed the status of some of the older
ones in 1644 from slavery to tribute-paying. That is to say, it gave eleven
of them their freedom on condition that each pay the company every year
some twenty-two bushels of grain and a hog of a certain value. At the same
time it provided, curiously, that their children already born or yet to be
born were to be the company's slaves. It was proposed at one time by some
of the inhabitants, and again by Governor Stuyvesant, that negroes be armed
with tomahawks and sent in punitive expeditions against the Indians, but
nothing seems to have come of that.

The Dutch settlers were few, and the Dutch farmers fewer. But as years went
on a slender stream of immigration entered the province from New England,
settling mainly on Long Island and in Westchester; and these came to be
among the company's best customers for slaves. The villagers of Gravesend,
indeed, petitioned in 1651 that the slave supply might be increased. Soon
afterward the company opened the trade to private ships, and then sent
additional supplies on its own account to be sold at auction. It developed
hopes, even, that New Amsterdam might be made a slave market for the
neighboring English colonies. A parcel sold at public outcry in 1661
brought an average price of 440 florins,[30] which so encouraged the
authorities that larger shipments were ordered. Of a parcel arriving in
the spring of 1664 and described by Stuyvesant as on the average old and
inferior, six men were reserved for the company's use in cutting timber,
five women were set aside as unsalable, and the remaining twenty-nine, of
both sexes, were sold at auction at prices ranging from 255 to 615 florins.
But a great cargo of two or three hundred slaves which followed in the same
year reached port only in time for the vessel to be captured by the English
fleet which took possession of New Netherland and converted it into the
province of New York.[31]

[Footnote 30: The florin has a value of forty cents.]

[Footnote 31: This account is mainly drawn from A.J. Northrup, "Slavery in
New York," in the New York State Library _Report_ for 1900, pp. 246-254,
and from E.B. O'Callaghan ed., _Voyages of the Slavers St. John and Arms of
Amsterdam, with additional papers illustrative of the slave trade under the
Dutch_ (Albany, 1867), pp. 99-213.]

The change of the flag was very slow in bringing any pronounced change in
the colony's general regime. The Duke of York's government was autocratic
and pro-slavery and the inhabitants, though for some decades they bought
few slaves, were nothing averse to the institution. After the colony was
converted into a royal province by the accession of James II to the English
throne popular self-government was gradually introduced and a light import
duty was laid upon slaves. But increasing prosperity caused the rise of
slave importations to an average of about one hundred a year in the first
quarter of the eighteenth century;[32] and in spite of the rapid increase
of the whites during the rest of the colonial period the proportion of the
negroes was steadily maintained at about one-seventh of the whole. They
became fairly numerous in all districts except the extreme frontier, but in
the counties fronting New York Harbor their ratio was somewhat above the
average.[33] In 1755 a special census was taken of slaves older than
fourteen years, and a large part of its detailed returns has been
preserved. These reports from some two-score scattered localities enumerate
2456 slaves, about one-third of the total negro population of the
specified age; and they yield unusually definite data as to the scale of
slaveholdings. Lewis Morris of Morrisania had twenty-nine slaves above
fourteen years old; Peter DeLancy of Westchester Borough had twelve; and
the following had ten each: Thomas Dongan of Staten Island, Martinus
Hoffman of Dutchess County, David Jones of Oyster Bay, Rutgert Van Brunt of
New Utrecht, and Isaac Willett of Westchester Borough. Seventy-two others
had from five to nine each, and 1048 had still smaller holdings.[34] The
average quota was two slaves of working age, and presumably the same number
of slave children. That is to say, the typical slaveholding family had a
single small family of slaves in its service. From available data it may be
confidently surmised, furthermore, that at least one household in every ten
among the eighty-three thousand white inhabitants of the colony held one or
more slaves. These two features--the multiplicity of slaveholdings and the
virtually uniform pettiness of their scale--constituted a regime never
paralleled in equal volume elsewhere. The economic interest in slave
property, nowhere great, was widely diffused. The petty masters, however,
maintained so little system in the management of their slaves that the
public problem of social control was relatively intense. It was a state
of affairs conducing to severe legislation, and to hysterical action in

[Footnote 32: _Documentary History of New York_ (Albany, 1850), I, 482.]

[Footnote 33: _Ibid_., I, 467-474.]

[Footnote 34: _Documentary History of New York_, III, 505-521.]

The first important law, enacted in 1702, repeated an earlier prohibition
against trading with slaves; authorized masters to chastise their slaves at
discretion; forbade the meeting of more than three slaves at any time or
place unless in their masters' service or by their consent; penalized with
imprisonment and lashes the striking of a "Christian" by a slave; made the
seductor or harborer of a runaway slave liable for heavy damages to the
owner; and excluded slave testimony from the courts except as against other
slaves charged with conspiracy. In order, however, that undue loss to
masters might be averted, it provided that if by theft or other trespass a
slave injured any person to the extent of not more than five pounds, the
slave was not to be sentenced to death as in some cases a freeman might
have been under the laws of England then current, but his master was to be
liable for pecuniary satisfaction and the slave was merely to be whipped.
Three years afterward a special act to check the fleeing to Canada provided
a death penalty for any slave from the city and county of Albany found
traveling more than forty miles north of that city, the master to be
compensated from a special tax on slave property in the district. And in
1706 an act, passed mainly to quiet any fears as to the legal consequences
of Christianization, declared that baptism had no liberating effect, and

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