By Richard S. Dunn
Forty years in the past, after booklet of his pathbreaking publication Sugar and Slaves, Richard Dunn begun a radical research of 2 thousand slaves dwelling on plantations, one in North the USA and one within the Caribbean. Digging deeply into the documents, he has reconstructed the person lives and collective reviews of 3 generations of slaves at the Mesopotamia sugar property in Jamaica and the Mount ethereal plantation in tidewater Virginia, to appreciate the starkly assorted types slavery may perhaps take. Dunn’s wonderful fulfillment is a wealthy and compelling background of bondage in very diverse Atlantic international settings.
From the mid-eighteenth century to emancipation in 1834, lifestyles in Mesopotamia was once formed and stunted via lethal paintings regimens, rampant ailment, and dependence at the slave alternate for brand new workers. At Mount ethereal, the place the inhabitants always elevated until eventually emancipation in 1865, the “surplus” slaves have been offered or moved to far away paintings websites, and households have been sometimes damaged up. Over 200 of those Virginia slaves have been despatched 8 hundred miles to the Cotton South.
In the genealogies that Dunn has painstakingly assembled, we will hint a Mesopotamia fieldhand via each degree of her bondage, and distinction her harsh remedy with the fortunes of her rebellious mulatto son and shrewdpermanent quadroon granddaughter. We music a Mount ethereal craftworker via a stormy lifetime of interracial intercourse, break out, and relatives breakup. the main points of people’ lives allow us to understand the total adventure of either slave groups as they worked and enjoyed, and eventually grew to become free.
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Additional info for A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia
In 1833 there were seventy-nine slaves above the age of ﬁ fty, compared with thirty-six in 1789 and thirty-four in 1762. And thirty of the Mesopotamia people—nine men and twentyone women—were over the age of sixty. This increase reﬂects the fact that large numbers of senior slaves had been imported, especially in Mesopotamia versus Mount Airy: The Demographic Contrast 43 1819, but it also suggests that health conditions on the estate were improving. From management’s perspective, however, the Mesopotamia slave gang by 1833 was encumbered with far too many nonworking people and was a lot less effective than in 1789, when 39 percent of the slaves had been prime-aged workers in their twenties or early thirties— as against 25 percent in 1833.
Back home, Joseph Foster Barham was much affected by the preaching of Moravian brother John Cennick. And he fell in love with Dorothea Vaughan, a devout woman with extensive property in Wales who shared his religious values. Barham and Vaughan joined the Moravian Church, or Unitas Fratrum, a central European radical Protestant sect that maintained a small outpost in England and a very active program of overseas evangelism. In 1753 Barham and his older brother William Foster asked the Moravians to send missionaries to the slaves on their plantations in Jamaica—launching a religious odyssey that will be the subject of Chapter 6.
And as I tried to imagine what slave life was like at Mesopotamia and Mount Airy, I was challenged by the differing characteristics of the two sets of records. Most obviously, the Moravian records at Mesopotamia provide detailed information about worship and church membership, whereas I know nothing about the religious life of the Mount Airy people in Virginia or in Alabama. And the Mesopotamia inventories contain annual reports 18 A Tale of Two Plantations on each slave’s physical condition, so that the impact of job assignments on health and life expectancy can be measured.
A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia by Richard S. Dunn