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Slavery And Plantation In Trinidad And Tobago

Slavery and Plantations will always be linked, powered by economic objectives (Williams 1994), from the initial amount of sugarcane cultivation in the Caribbean. Despite the complexity of the happenings and circumstances that created this romantic relationship, sugar growth and slavery both were flourishing through the relatively peaceful early years of the 18th century. The European need for sugar had been increasing, and England's sugars requirements led the pack. The United kingdom islands like T&T were a mono-crop modern culture, with few settlers growing anything but sugarcane

The Business of Slavery

The Triangular Trade is a term commonly used in conversations of the slave trade. Slaves would be brought from Africa to the plantations, which would send glucose and other local goods to European countries, who would subsequently send goods to Africa. The goods usually sent to Africa were guns and other created items because there is no industry in Africa. In the Western Indian islands like T&T, however, the advertising of slaves was an important part of the economy. The necessity for much more slaves was always greater than the market could provide, and the West Indian companies were exposed in the 1700s to outside the house trade to help provide additional slaves to colonies that produced glucose. The French urged this trade on their islands by exempting slaves from most transfer and export taxes.

Life on Plantations

Working Conditions: Slave Labour in Plantations

'the toughest season, a season of toil from sunrise to twilight, bare ankles and calves stung by cowitch, knotted muscles slashed by cane leaves that chop like straight razors, backs split available by the whip'

The plantation land contains cane-fields, provision grounds, woodland and pasture. Each planter preferred to have more than 200 acres of cane land. Provision grounds were employed by the slaves to cultivate main plants, plantains and vegetables for food. The woodland provided lumber and firewood and the pasture was used for grazing cattle (Handler 1965). The cane domains had either newly planted canes or ratoons. The ratoons were new shoots growing from old cane roots which were still left in the bottom after a previous crop of cane was gathered. Usually a ratoon field was less productive. A typical glucose estate had manufacturer buildings including the mill, boiling house and treating house. Around these manufacturer buildings there have been other smaller complexes and sheds where, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, carpenters, masons, coopers and other artisan slaves proved helpful. There would also be a little "hospital" for ill slaves, and a tiny "jail" which kept slaves who had been being punished. There have been storage rooms for tools and products and sheds which sheltered livestock or stored cane trash or bagasse that was used as gas. Not far from the factory structures were small properties where the European professionals and supervisors lived. These were generally overseers, book-keepers, skilled craftsmen and office personnel. In the biggest house resided the real estate owner. The slave quarters were some distance away from the homes of the managers.

A workday consisted of 15-16 hours a day, during harvest time and, could go on during harvest and milling for 16-18 per week 7 days weekly and relating to Stampp (1956) the slaves received the task to get ready the land for planting. Their normal morning started before daybreak and ended after sunset. They cleared the grass and bushes by weeding and burning up (children between the age groups of six and ten might be energetic as water service providers while children between your age groups of ten and twelve were arranged into gangs and put to weeding). Cane slots were dug and into these cane tops were planted. As the cane grew, gangs of slaves manured the field and weeded bushes that sprang up round the cane plants. Female slaves did much of the weeding and the manuring. After 12 to 15 calendar months the cane was now adult. The field was set afire to burn off the leaves from the cane stalks and at exactly the same time to eliminate snakes which resided there. The field slaves, using cutlasses, then slice the cane stalks, stuffed them in bundles and loaded them to ox-drawn carts which carried those to the mill. In the mill, the cane was smashed and the drink flowed through gutters to large steel storage containers. The cane garbage was removed and stored for use as gas for the boilers. The drink in the large pots was clarified by heating and the addition of a tiny level of lime. This clarified drink was then ladled into a copper boiler where it was boiled. After a while, the juice out of this copper boiler was ladled into an inferior boiler and was boiled again and then even more in a yet smaller boiler. At that time, it had became sticky syrup that was allowed to cool, and then poured into wooden hogsheads standing on beams in the healing house. Through small holes in the bottom of the hogsheads, molasses seeped away and was accumulated in containers establish below the beams. After about three weeks, the rest of the syrup in the hogsheads crystallised to form sugar. The sugar continued to be in the hogsheads that have been later jam-packed into boats for export to Europe. Some estates also produced rum by fermenting juice from the first boiling and about the same quantity of molasses. The vast majority of this specialised work carried out in the manufacture of glucose and rum was done by skilled artisan slaves who have been highly appreciated by their owners. Through the milling season, slaves proved helpful in shifts during the day and night time.

Even after the crop season was over, the house owner did not allow his slaves to be idle. The domains had to be ready for the new crop, weeding and manuring of the ratoons had to be done, and repairs to drainage and irrigation canals, fences and structures had to handle. Work was even found for children from the age of six yrs. old. They gathered firewood, cut grass to feed farm pets or animals and fetched normal water to slaves working in the domains. The plantation owners did not want their slaves to require themselves in idle discussion since they noticed that the discontented slaves could use the occasion to plot rebellion.


While each plantation possessed its own set of social, spiritual, and labour rules, all had the basic format for an instilled hierarchy in which the slave get better at reigned as gad. He managed the element of slave misery, by handling the amount of pain (Starobin 1974). Treatments received such as mutilation, branding, chaining, and murder that have been supposedly controlled or prohibited by law. Whippings, beatings, drownings, and hangings were as unstable as these were gruesome.

It was clear to plantation owners that slavery cannot survive with no whip (even though owners were forbidden to intentionally get rid of or maliciously mutilate a slave). Males and females were whipped indiscriminately. The severity of whipping depended on the number of strokes to the type of whip. Fifteen to twenty lashes were generally sufficient, nonetheless they could range higher. Other items used for punishments included shares, chains, collars, and irons. It was also commonplace that ladies could be raped by who owns the plantation, his sons or, any white man.

Methods of Control

The White plantation owners in T&T used various solutions to maintain complete control over their slaves. Their principal method was that of "divide and rule". Customers of the same tribe were separated on different plantations to avoid communication between them. Desire to behind this is to avoid any plans to rebel if indeed they were along. This separation, however, created a issue of communication, because the plantation could have different groups of slaves speaking different languages. Therefore, the planters got to discover a way to talk to their slaves. Soon a fresh dialect, known as Creole, developed and this became a tongue one of the slaves. When the British had taken control of the twin islands in the nineteenth hundred years, English words were injected into the terms and it became the basis of the Creolised terms.

Slaves were also avoided from practising their religions. A number of slaves were Muslims while many others got their own tribal beliefs. But because the Christian planters saw non-Christians as pagans, they ensured that the slaves cannot gather to worship in the manner they were accustomed when they lived in Africa.

Later Religious missionaries were permitted on the plantations plus they were allowed to preach to the slaves on Sundays. In time, most of them were changed into Christianity; it was the general feeling that the transformed slaves became docile and had not been willing to support rebellion on the plantations.

Another method of control was the creation of your class system among the list of slaves. Field slaves formed the cheapest group, even while some of them had special skills.

The lowest standing slaves, the backbone of the plantation current economic climate, were the field slaves. The field slaves were divided into 'gangs' according to their physical strength and ability, with the most powerful and fittest men and women in the first gang. The incentive used to encourage hard work, was lashes of the cart whip, which were freely administered by the drivers, who were 'privileged' slaves under the overseer's guidance. Higher up the slave hierarchy were the artisan slaves such as blacksmiths, carpenters and masons, who had been often appointed out by the planters. These slaves also had opportunities to make money for themselves on various occasions. Still higher up in this school system were the motorists who were specially picked by the White planters to control the other slaves. The local or house slave experienced a special devote this design, and because they functioned in the master's house and sometimes getting special favours from the get good at, they placed other slaves in contempt. Usually, the slaves in the lowest rung of this public ladder were the ones who rebelled and often local slaves were the ones who betrayed them by reporting the plots with their master.

Then there were divisions predicated on colour. In the first days, it was not too difficult for a natural African to rise to the level of a driver. But mixtures occurred through the labor and birth of children therefore of unions between White men and dark women (mulatto), White men and mulatto women (mestee) and mulatto men and dark women (sambo). Some slaves of succeeding generations thus acquired lighter complexions, and the White planters discriminated in favour of them. These slaves with White fathers or White relatives were located in positions above those of the field slaves. This is the beginning of colour discrimination in the Guyanese world. Of course, in all of this, the Europeans - the Whites - occupied the best rung of the social ladder plus they found willing allies among the list of mixed or coloured populace who occupied the intermediate levels. The pure Africans continued to be at the cheapest level

Women and Slavery in the Plantations

According to Bush (1990; 33) the primary reason for the presence of ladies in T&T before slavery was because of their labour value. In the early days and nights of slavery, plantation owners attemptedto produce healthy patterns of duplication and encourage marriage, but found it was financially illogical to take action. Instead, it was more profitable to acquire new slaves from Africa (until the continued way to obtain female slaves being sent from over the Atlantic was threatened by abolitionist pressure in the eighteenth century). Females worked on estates from the early time of four. Occupations for women between the age ranges of 12-19 assorted from field work, to stock work, to home work, to washing e. g. clothing, food, etc. ( Reddock 1985 pg. 64 ), . Other forms of work for older women included midwife, doctoress, and housekeeper. Western plantation owners generally regarded most slave women as suitable for field work, which consisted of careers such as digging holes for canes, weeding, and hoeing. In Jamaica, the majority of women between the age groups of 19 and 54 were working in the fields.

By the late eighteenth and early on nineteenth century, there were more women working in the field than men due to their lower mortality rates. Regardless of the common stereotype whereby men are better and more physically competent than women, it can be argued that ladies were as important, if not more important, to field work over slavery in T&T. The need for women in the plantation market is mirrored in the price of female slaves between 1790 and the end of the slave trade. The purchase price for a "new" male slave was about 50-70, while the price for a new feminine slave was around 50-60. (Bush, 1996:33)

Apart from occupations such as doctoress, midwife, and housekeeper, which were regarded as higher job positions for slave women during the time, the slave elite was nearly completely composed of men. Women were confined to struggling for lower positions in the socio-economic hierarchy and were always excluded from the more exclusive and skilled jobs (i. e. carpentry). Among the limited amount of occupations available to Trinbagonian slave women, the most exclusive job was found to be medical.

One way in which women slaves would sometimes amass income and resources for themselves was through gender trade (Morrissey 1989 pg. 69). This was a common way for women slaves to save money for freedom, specifically in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in T&T. The majority of enslaved domestic personnel in towns were likely to support themselves through prostitution.

Culture of Slavery and Plantation life


Plantation slaves were housed in slave's cabins. Small, rudely built of logs with clapboard sidings, with clay chinking. Flooring surfaces were packed dirt. They were leaky and drafty and the combination of wet, mud, and cold made them diseased environments. Around the plantation, the slaves were housed in complexes that have been some distance away from the master's house. Most of these slave houses experienced thatched roofs and walls of old boards or of wattle and mud. The ground was the earth itself and there have been no furniture except some rudimentary parts that the slaves managed to make.


Slaves were not well-clothed; they had inadequate clothing for folks employed in heavy labour all yr. Children would dress in long shirts. Men possessed little besides with two t-shirts and two cotton trousers. Women were provided with an inadequate amount of towel and made their own clothes. The towel was cheap materials, produced in Great britain that was dubbed "Negro cloth". The slaves also obtained a clothing allowance around each year. The men received a coarse woollen coat, a head wear, about six back yards of cotton, and a bit of canvas to produce a set or two of trousers. Women received the same allowance as the men, but children received none of them. The children remained naked until these were about nine yrs. old, or were given cast-off clothing that their parents managed to find or were able to purchase.


The food was generally adequate in bulk, but imbalanced and monotonous. Typical food allowance was a peck of corn meal and 3 to 4 pounds of sodium pork or bacon weekly per person. This diet could be supplemented by vegetables from their gardens, by seafood or untamed game, and molasses (not usually). The slaves ready their own food and carried it out to the field in buckets. While the slaves were given certain foodstuffs by the master, they lifted their own subsistence vegetation of vegetables, plantains and main vegetation on small garden plots that the grasp allowed those to use. However, they could only do their personal farming on Sundays when that they had no work on the plantation. They also took the opportunity to fish on Sundays in the nearby canals, the waterways or the ocean. Each adult slave was presented with one pound of salted cod fish every Sunday by the plantation owner. The salted cod seafood was brought in from THE UNITED STATES. A kid slave was given an inferior allocation. On special Religious holidays, there is an additional allowance of about a pound of meat or pork, some sugar and a level of rum.


The standard view organised by the plantation owners was that the African slaves didn't hold to a system of beliefs that might be referred to as a faith (Mbiti 1969). At best - therefore the members of the plantocracy and the church that dished up them experienced - their values amounted to nothing more than heathenish superstition. Not a few of them, perhaps, experienced that the Africans were not capable of religious sentiment. But the Africans held religious beliefs derived from their homeland. It may be useful to remember that some of the slaves, specifically these who originated from the Fula-speaking section of Senegambia, were Muslims. The practice of the planters of separating tribesmen in one another, and of discouraging the assembling of slaves for any purpose whatsoever, was not calculated to allow Islam to make it through. Again, the tiny amount of African Muslims that came to plantations in T&T lacked the command of Imams and the possession of the Qur'an. Then, too, the plantation life didn't lend itself for long prayers at resolved times, worship over a place day, fasting at approved periods, or feasting on getaways which did not coincide with those seen by the plantocracy.

On the other side, indigenous African religious beliefs, which became labelled as "obeah", survived the difficulties of house life. But these beliefs underwent significant changes although they continued to be clearly "African" in framework (Saraceni 1996). Three factors were mainly in charge of these changes. To begin with, African religious ideas were with the capacity of modification in response to the new scenario of estate life. Second of all, the practice of African religion was frowned after by estate government bodies. This intended that the religion could only be practised secretly and irregularly. The result has been that some areas of African religious practices withered away while others lost their nationality and words and became garbled. Thirdly, the exposure to Christianity led not only to the alteration of Blacks to that religious beliefs, but also to the overlapping of African and Christian beliefs.

Free Time

Except for cash flow relished by the artisan slaves, the majority of the slaves depended on obtaining money by offering surplus produce of their provision grounds and also the sale of livestock that they reared. On Sundays, town markets were presented and the slaves seized the opportunity to barter or sell their produce. On these occasions the slaves made buys of a few pieces of clothing and other items because of their homes.

The Sunday marketplaces were also situations when slaves from different plantations were able to socialise and to exchange information and pieces of gossip.

There were also times of entertainment. They were usually by the end of the "crop" with Christmas and on general population holiday seasons when the slaves were permitted to maintain dances which had to get rid of by midnight.

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