Slave Life and Resistance

  1. Increasing restrictions develop during 1600s

    1. Early African slaves treated much as indentured servants, could become free gain, gain own land

    2. Restrictions on property rights, marriage rights, gun rights develop in1640s-1660s

    3. Hereditary slavery (children of slaves are slaves) the norm by late 1600s

    4. Black Codes imposed in all colonies by early 1700s

      1. Copied from legislation in British Caribbean colonies

      2. Eliminated virtually all rights, made slaves purely into property

      3. Few restraints on slave owners

  2. Forms of resistance and rebellion

    1. Despite increasingly harsh laws, slaves found numerous means to resist

      1. cultural resistance

      2. escape

      3. work slowdown

      4. feigned illness and incompetence

      5. sabotage

      6. violence

    2. Forms of  cultural resistance

      1. Slaves separated from their home culture, forced to blend multiple forms of African culture with elements of European culture

      2. Religion played key part in cultural resistance

        1. Most slaves in 1600s had little contact with Christianity

        2. blended African religions with elements of Christianity to create new syncretic religions

        3. Religious revivals of early 1700s brought slaves more fully into Christian world

      3. Pinkster Day - example of cultural adaptation

        1. based on the Dutch celebration of Pentecost in New Amsterdam (New York)

        2. adopted by Africans in the colony, reworked with African music and dances, feasting traditions

      4. Gullah culture

        1. Rice growing regions of South Carolina became area of densest African/African-American population

        2. Outnumbered whites 3-1

        3. Able to maintain more of African culture and religion

        4. Gullah language develops - a pidgin language that mixed several African languages with some English

    3. Stono's Rebellion - 1739

      1. Early example of large scale violent rebellion

      2. Instigated primarily by "saltwater" Africans, people newly arrived from Africa

      3. In general, new arrivals were group most likely to engage in violent resistance

      4. Stono's Rebellion was met with massive retaliation - authorities hung and decapitate fifty rebels

    4. Fort Mose

      1. First free black community with official status in what would become the United States

      2. Founded in Spanish-controlled Florida near St. Augustine in 1720s

      3. Near the Spanish-English border, become contested territory, frequently involved in war with the British

      4. took in escaped slaves from English colonies

      5. Many inhabitants would migrate to Havana when Flroda came under British rule in 1763