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  • Home-grown Slaves:Women, Reproduction, and the Abolition of the Slave Trade, Jamaica 1788-1807

Once the British transatlantic slave trade came under abolitionists' scrutiny in 1788, West Indian slaveholders had to consider alternative methods of obtaining well-needed laborers. This article examines changes in enslaved women's working lives as planters sought to increase birth rates to replenish declining laboring populations. By focusing more on variances in work assignment and degrees of punishment rather than their absence, this article establishes that enslaved women in Jamaica experienced a considerable shift in their work responsibilities and their subjection to discipline as slaveholders sought to capitalize on their abilities to reproduce. Enslaved women's reproductive capabilities were pivotal for slavery and the plantation economy's survival once legal supplies from Africa were discontinued.

In 1789, Simon Taylor proposed buying more African women for Golden Grove, one of the six Jamaican sugar plantations he managed. 1 Referencing "the first good Eboe ship that comes in," he explained that he "will endeavour to get ten women out of her." 2 A few years prior, in 1770, Taylor dismissed suggestions to increase the property's female population and his proposal surprised his absentee employer. "In regard to purchasing fifteen females to five Negroes, it can by no means answer at Golden Grove, for you want men infinitely more than women, for there are many things which women cannot do." 3 Slaveholders reluctantly bought females for their Jamaican sugar estates throughout the seventeenth century and maintained this practice until the late eighteenth century. 4 They preferred buying males, whom they considered more versatile and capable of performing the sugar plantations' variously demanding agroindustrial tasks. Proprietor William Beckford explained, "A Negro man is purchased for a trade or cultivation and different process of the cane." Women, however, could efficiently perform "only two" roles: within either "the house, with its several departments, and the supposed indulgences, or the field with its exaggerated labours." 5

Despite Simon Taylor's assertion that enslaved women were less capable than men, slaveholders willingly exploited females to achieve productivity goals. Enslaved women worked alongside their menfolk, clearing fields for planting, digging cane holes, and cutting and carrying canes from [End Page 39] the fields to the factories. Although excluded from artisanal positions as sugar boilers and distillers, women factory workers performed crucial roles like supplying fuel for the boilers, feeding canes to the mills, and removing its residual trash. During harvest time, women worked in the cane fields from sunrise to sunset and at nights labored on a shift system to keep apace the processing of sugar.

The sugar plantations' huge demand on bondwomen's labor meant that pregnancy and childcare were viewed as distractions by capitalistic planters whose main focus was maintaining productivity and profitability. Slave trader John Barnes noted, "Planters of the West Indies in most Cases prefer Males" because "they lose the labour of a Female in the latter End of pregnancy, and for a little time afterwards." Barnes further asserted, "the Child is some years before it can be put to Labour." 6 Jamaican slaveholders were generally unwilling to sacrifice losing women's labor in the fields during pregnancy and childbirth or wait long-term for rearing children into capable workers. 7 Supplies and monies permitting, Governor Parry noted that planters bought "all males, as they will be more immediately profitable by their Work, whereas Females, above Three parts of their time are taken up breeding and suckling a tedious and precarious Offspring, from which no Profit can be expected for many Years to come." 8

This article explores the changing roles and importance of enslaved women to the Jamaican plantation economy as slaveholders were less able to rely on the transatlantic slave trade to replenish their labor force. It reveals that in the twenty year period before the 1807 abolition of the British slave trade, enslaved women within their childbearing years experienced changes in their labor assignments and subjection to punishment as their masters adjusted work schedules, treatment, and care with hopes of increasing birth rates.

Enslaved women's lives have been central to histories of slavery. From Lucille Mair's pioneering work to more recent contributions by Jennifer Morgan, historians have established that women's childbearing ability was the crux of constructing "gendered racial" differences under slavery. 9 Women's reproductive capability ensured their general importance to slavery's ideological framework. All children born to enslaved women automatically belonged to their mothers' master. 10 Women's sale and exchange value thus reflected "speculations" on their childbearing capacity, potentially adding to prospective buyers' profit margins. 11 Although planters recognized the possibility of securing profits from enslaved women's children, during slavery's formative years reproduction had greater significance for demarcating slavery as a racial institution since, for example, children born to white women could never be enslaved. [End Page 40]

Historians like Barbara Bush and Hilary Beckles have done much to expand our knowledge about how women's reproductive abilities shaped their experiences of bondage. Like their male counterparts, enslaved women were plunged into the deep end of physically demanding plantation labor and were equally vulnerable to punishment. While generally concurring that there was an erasure of gender differences in the working lives of the Caribbean enslaved populations, Bush and Beckles highlight the era of abolitionism as one in which bondwomen's lives were increasingly differentiated from bondmen's as slaveholders singled-out prospective mothers for preferential treatment. 12 Beckles forces us to consider whether slaveholders' reforms "celebrated and promoted black motherhood." 13 As this article shows, enslaved women's increased access to basic necessities were less celebratory of black motherhood but rather extended a long established exploitative element of slavery that linked black motherhood to reproducing the slave status.

Enslaved women's reproductive abilities were foundational to slavery's profit making motives. Unlike earlier contemplations that enslaved women might birth new slaves and thus potentially increasing the laboring population, slaveholders after 1788 deliberately calculated and adopted reforms aimed at harnessing enslaved women's fertility for the purposes of securing a viable labor force. Slaveholders strategized purchasing patterns, work, and punishment regimes in order to enhance and protect enslaved women's abilities to birth children. By closely examining planters' and doctors' correspondence, plantation management manuals, and parliamentary reports, this article reveals that bondwomen's labor routines and subjection to punishment were reformed as their masters' became more invested in boosting population growth. This discussion shows that women's lives were carefully regulated according to their masters' need to foster natural increase while maximizing women's productive roles in the cane fields and sugar factories.

The emergence of British abolitionism in the 1780s forced slavery's breaking point with its ancien régime, while reifying its original foundations. Antislavery literature condemned the hugely-demanding labor of enslaved people, especially females, performed under the whip's firing and without an adequate supply of food, clothing, or family comfort and security. "To support a life of such unparalleled drudgery," abolitionist Thomas Cooper wrote, "we should at least expect to find that they were comfortably cloathed, and plentifully fed. But sad [the] reverse!" Enslaved people were sold "without any consideration whether the wife is separated from her husband or the mother from her son." Mothers labored with children strapped to their backs. Should laborers rest but a little while, cling to their [End Page 41] loved ones from whom they would soon be separated, "the lash instantly severs them from their embraces" and a "severe flagellation" forced the "renewal of labour." 14 Cooper and other abolitionists believed that the ready supply of laborers provided by the slave trade allowed slaveholders to treat enslaved people as dispensable without regard to longevity. Ending the slave trade would rouse planters into minding their current labor force's "health, domestic comforts and above all moral improvement" thereby stimulating population growth. 15

Abolitionists' emphasis on natural increase was not a matter of replacing the transatlantic trade with another supply source of enslaved laborers. The attack on the slave trade was a tactical move by abolitionists, who, for various reasons, delayed a full-blown condemnation of slavery. 16 In the 1780s, despite widespread beliefs among abolitionists that the whole system of slavery should be abolished, initial campaigns focused on the slave trade. Reproduction was a complex question of engineering a more productive and efficient labor system, with freedom as an end goal. 17 According to abolitionists' narrative, with their masters' aid, enslaved people's morals, health, and customs could be improved, thereby birthing new generations of blacks who in time would be far removed from their ancestors. Over time, abolitionists argued, enslaved people would acquire habits of free people, thereby naturally eliminating the continued need for bonded laborers. 18

Abolitionists' activism mobilized a particular racial violence against black sexuality and motherhood. 19 Black women's fertility and maternity were central to regenerating a free laboring population. Enslaved women would birth children, who, in successive generations, would become free laborers. 20 If for slaveholders black motherhood symbolized hereditary slavery, for abolitionists it symbolized the conduit through which a free laboring population could be propagated. Abolitionists thus reified early colonial practices that aligned black women's procreative abilities to reproducing a working population suitable for building and sustaining the British imperial enterprise. Whether in slavery or antislavery rhetoric, black women's bodies and their lives were defined by their ability to propagate workers for the colonial economy.

Between 1788 and 1807, some planters aimed to buy women in far greater numbers than previous decades in order to achieve parity between the sexes or, in some cases, to obtain more women than men. Planter Henry Goulbourn explained, "The purchase of women in preference to males" was necessary "until the numbers of each are equal, as it is by this means alone that we shall be able to keep our stock without diminution." 21 In slaveholders' views, a principal obstruction to successfully increasing birth rates was that the estates possessed "a great many more men than women." 22 At Golden Grove, the January 1792 slave-schedules registered 204 females [End Page 42] to 237 males, revealing that women accounted for just about 46 percent of the total slave population. Of these women, twenty-five (or 5.6 percent) were above seventy years of age and beyond childbearing age. Girls with the greatest reproductive promise, aged nine to seventeen, accounted for another forty-two of Golden Grove's 204 females. The vast majority of women were field workers, with "reputed age" 23 between thirty and seventy years and therefore had a much lower reproductive potential. 24 Overall the sex ratio thus shows that men did not outnumber women with as great a disparity as slaveholders' correspondence suggests. Closely studying the population's composition shows that the greater percentage of females needed were those within their childbearing years.

Indeed, Golden Grove's population composition was hardly unique among Jamaica's sugar plantations. The historian Barry Higman's comprehensive study of Jamaica's population structure between 1807-1834 confirms a small skewed sex ratio in favor of men. Demographic data for 1817 (the earliest year with comprehensive records for Jamaica's slave populations), showed 117.8 males to 100 females. 25 In the parish of St. Thomas in the East where Golden Grove estate was located, men outnumbered women three to one in 1817. For less than obvious reasons, some rural parishes, like Clarendon, evidenced almost equal sex ratios. Parishes with large urban areas, like Kingston and St. Catherine, generally had a larger female population.

Balancing sex ratios was only half of slaveholders' concern. Higman's demographic study further reveals a consistent gap in the age group between fifteen and twenty-five across Jamaica's plantations. Excepting a few, the bulk of the enslaved population fell between ages twenty-five to forty-four. Higman explains, "A common feature of the total populations was an erosion of the age pyramid between about 15 and 25 years." 26 The plantations needed greater proportions of women capable of reproducing. Between 1788 and 1807, women aged fifteen to twenty-five or younger increased in their overall importance to the sugar and slavery economy because their reproductive abilities presented an alternative labor source. Comparatively, for the entire slavery period until 1788, enslaved women's procreative abilities had recognizable importance because they offered opportunities for increasing profit. But as threats to discontinue the slave trade mounted, women's reproductive capacities gained greater significance as slaveholders recognized women's abilities to bear children as integral to the continued viability of their sugar plantations.

Females above age twelve were considered by slaveholders as best suited for birthing future laborers. In 1804, "many young girls," more specifically, "growing women" were purchased for Lord Penryhn's Clarendon properties. 27 Other planters were more precise in defining what constituted young, "growing women." William Beckford summarized, "age twelve to [End Page 43] sixteen is in my opinion, the period that is most likely to answer the future" labor needs. 28 Females between ages twelve to sixteen were far "too young" for Simon Taylor's liking because they were more vulnerable to sexual advances. "If girls are bought too young," Taylor explained, "the fellows play the very devil with them, but after they are 16 or 18 there is no danger." 29 Thomas Barritt, manager at one of Nathaniel Phillips' estates, expressed a similar concern. The "young wenches" were frequently lured away from the estates by men (race unspecified) in the town and at the docks. Unsuspecting adolescent girls inveigled into men's "bad habits" were left "being disordered." 30 While sexual activity could increase conception rate, overindulgence generated pathologies with sterilizing effects on women's fertility. 31 Nothing else, Agent Fuller testified, "impede[s] the natural increase of the Slaves [more] than" venereal diseases. 32 Although slaveholders wished to purchase a greater number of younger females than they did in previous decades, recruits age twelve and above were considered best suited for fulfilling planters' reproductive goals.

The demand for younger females within their childbearing years increased not only because individual planters diverted their focus towards reproduction, but also because new governmental trading regulations provided tax relief on the importation of females below age twenty-five. In 1792, the British Prime Minister's adviser Henry Dundas proposed a new bill regulating the age and sex of Africans imported to the British colonies. Dundas argued that time should be given to "encourage merchants and planters to try fairly the scheme of rearing a sufficient number of native Negroes to answer the purpose of cultivating the plantations." Population increase necessitated greater proportions of young females who were "more likely to reproduce than were persons of advanced age." 33 Although the House of Lords rejected Dundas' proposal for an imperial adoption of a tax incentive on younger females, colonial governments, like the Jamaican Assembly, adopted this measure. In 1797, the Jamaica House of Assembly passed "An Act for laying a duty on all Negro slaves that shall be imported into this island from the coast of Africa who shall be above a certain age." By this act, women above age twenty-five attracted an additional ten pounds tax. 34

Despite increased planter demands and government incentives, young females continued arriving in Jamaica's ports in fewer numbers than males. The slave trade database shows significant growth in total imported Africans within the last decades of legal slave trading. However, the average percentage of males remained consistently greater than females (except for the years 1798-1806 and 1808, for which we have no data on sex ratios). 35 Males accounted for 61.80 percent of the total number of Africans brought into Jamaica for the entire period of legal slave trading (1659-1808) and 63.8 percent during the abolitionist period (1788-1808). 36 The closest approximation [End Page 44] to the age of females imported into Jamaica is in looking at the ratio of children. The average number of children brought into Jamaica shows a downward trend between 1788 and 1808. In 1788, 24.9 percent of African imports were children, whose rates declined steadily for the next seven years (to 1795) when the average import was 11.8 percent. By 1796, the number of children imported to Jamaica fell to 5.6 percent but improved slightly in 1797 to 8.5 percent. The following year, 1798, imported children increased to 13.4 percent. Broadly speaking, children bought between 1788-1808 amounted to just about 16.62 percent. 37 The fact that young females did not dominate African recruits to Jamaica (perhaps greater demands for women and children on the African coast made it difficult for West Indian planters to satisfy their new demands for young females or slaveholders continued to prefer male laborers), 38 suggest that women would have had to balance their roles as sugar producers during pregnancy, childbirth, and childrearing.

Enslaved women's work assignments shifted according to slaveholders' needs to increase the plantations' laboring population. Females worked not only in accordance with their perceived strength, they also labored according to their masters' assessment of their fecundity. Women within childbearing years received exemption from field labor in varying degrees. Some were relocated to work at the cattle pens or in the great houses as domestic laborers because planters believed these working environments were more conducive to protecting potential and new mothers than the fields and factories. Planter Edward Long explicated, "Domestic Negroes have more children in proportion to those on the pens; and the latter than those who are employed on the sugar plantation. I will not deny" Long confessed, "Negroes breed the best, whose labour is least or easiest." 39 Newly purchased women at Golden Grove were assigned labor roles in keeping with the idea that women in the great house and cattle pens had more successful pregnancies than women in the fields. Manager Simon Taylor explained that the young "wenches," recently purchased primarily for "breeding," would only work at the estates' cattle pens and provision grounds. They "shall do no other work but to clean cocos [and] yams, which is the lightest work I know and they shall not interfere with the estate's work and [they] shall have every chance of breeding that is possible." 40

Women formed the bulk of field laborers on the majority of Jamaica's sugar plantations. Thus removing women from the fields en masse would have crippled the economy, if not force the sugar plantations' collapse. For example, in 1790 on Golden Grove, 111 women worked in the fields alongside ninety-two men. In 1792, while the number of women field workers declined to ninety-one, they still outnumbered the seventy-eight men. 41 Similar patterns were evident on other plantations across Jamaica. At Worthy Park, twenty-nine men worked in the field alongside seventy women. 42 [End Page 45] Women not only outnumbered men in the fields, but a larger proportion of the total female population were field laborers. At Mesopotamia Estate, 84 percent of the total population of women worked in the fields, in comparison 55 percent of the male population. 43 Enslaved women dominated field labor because there were fewer non-field roles reserved for women. At Mounthindermost Plantation there were at least seven occupations from which women were excluded. These positions were primarily artisanal, including carpentry, masonry, and smithing. 44

Given women's importance to cultivation, expectant mothers were not fully reprieved from labor. At Cornwall Estate, an unnamed bondwoman was "discharged from all severe labour" in exchange for the "pleasing punishment which women bear." 45 At Denbigh and Thomas River Estates, the moment women were "under the suspicion of being with child" they were similarly removed from the "harder labour of the field and put to light work." Pregnant women were assigned to the "hoeing of fences" and the "boiling of oils for the use on the estate." 46 While on tour across Jamaica between 1802-1804, Maria Nugent reported seeing "Women with child work[ing] in the fields till the last six weeks" of their pregnancies. 47 But eyewitness accounts like Nugent's must be closely evaluated in terms of how planters defined light tasks. From the planters' extremely subjective perspective, pregnant women received lighter work loads insofar as planters' conceptualized weeding as an easier task than hoeing. Observer reports like Nugent's have been cited as evidence that women's labor roles remained unchanged. As one scholar concluded, in the abolitionist period women were "no less immune to heavy labour." 48 However, the descriptive terms "heavy" and "light" were relative to planters' biases, allowing for subtle differences in labor roles. Women therefore were not excused from field labor, but rather continued working in the fields at jobs overseers considered "easy." By acknowledging the nuances of labor allocation, it becomes more apparent that women had to bear future laborers while balancing work responsibilities in the cane fields —producing tropical commodities for the export market.

Slaveholders' need to increase birth rates enhanced the importance of women's reproductive roles to the plantation economy. Bondwomen were removed temporarily from the harder labor of the fields, and replaced by bondmen. "Young men or lads," overseer Fraser Fearon reported, took over women's responsibilities of "weeding cane fields, carrying canes to the mills and removing its trash." 49 Women's childbearing abilities were of comparable importance to skilled labor, since artisans and drivers were those primarily spared from fieldwork. Like skilled workers who were exempted from field tasks in order to work in their artisanal capacity, prospective mothers were similarly excused. Bearing children was an ability only some [End Page 46] women possessed and slaveholders adopted measures to maximize their returns. When childbearing women thus needed to execute their "peculiar" labor, others replaced them. From slaveholders' standpoint, bearing children, like artisanal labor, was an asset of immense value for enriching the plantation economy. Expectant mothers received exemption from some work to enable them to reproduce.

In order to more efficiently exploit bondwomen's productive and reproductive abilities, planters regularly included medical practitioners as part of the estates' management hierarchy. Plantation physicians attended the general needs of the sick, as well as supervised women's labor, pregnancy, and childbirth. Between 1741-1745, Jamaica had just about twenty-four doctors and surgeons, which increased to twenty-six between 1771-1775. However, by 1795, the number of doctors doubled to fifty-six. 50 Physicians, like Benjamin Turney, appointed to Golden Grove managed women's everyday conditions. In addition to overseeing women's labor on the ground, other doctors, like David Collins and William Sells, published general guidelines on how to efficiently regulate women's roles in order to protect their pregnancy while maximizing their labor in the fields. 51 During pregnancy, Dr. Sells recommended "no alteration in their usual labour until four or five months advanced; a lighter employment is then advised, and continued until the lying in." 52 Dr. Collins, however, advised women's exemption from "kinds of labours which require extraordinary exertions" (my emphasis) once pregnancy was detected. Expectant mothers could continue laboring as before, except in tasks likely to cause "external injuries," "blows, or strains, or sudden falls to the ground." 53

King's Valley Estate's women worked according to the overseer's systematic calculation of how much "extraordinary exertion" (as Dr. Collins advised) was needed to complete particular tasks. Women labored as individuals or in small groups at jobs like feeding canes to the mills and removing cane trash based on calculated distance from the cane heaps to the sugar mills and from the mill house to the trash house. Other conditions, including women's overall health during pregnancy, and cane and trash weight were considered when dividing labor in the factories. 54 Dr. Sells found no "reason to alter" women's labor roles unless "the state of her health forbids it." 55 At King's Valley Estate, "women of stronger constitution" were responsible for "feeding the mill." Since extracting cane juice was "harder work," overseer David Ewart designated three feeders to this task, allowing "two feeding and one resting alternately." More advanced pregnant women were assigned successive roles of removing and transporting residual cane trash or bagasse from the milling area. Bagasse carriers were carefully regulated, restricting women in the later stages of pregnancy from "stoop[ing] when in the act of taking up the trash basket." At least two women carried cane [End Page 47] trash to ensure they "assisted one another." But a maximum of two women removed cane trash at any given time. Ewart reasoned, "the load is not a very heavy one particularly the dry trash for the cooper, I do not consider it hard labour by any means." Pregnant women thus carried dry trash because it was "a rather light work," and they were not required to travel very far with their loads since "trash houses at King's Valley are within a moderate distance." More than two women collected and transported bagasse only in exceptional cases where the quantity was great. Overseer David Ewart boasted of the effectiveness of this method of managing pregnant women; it was hardly "injurious to their breeding." 56 Women's release from some labor responsibilities was calculated to protect their pregnancy. Balancing labor and pregnancy ensured slaveholders reaped maximum benefit from bondwomen's productive and reproductive abilities. 57

Since all planters were not as explicit in stating how they organized pregnant women's labor, our knowledge of the extensiveness of worker reassignment is somewhat limited. But a close reading of planter correspondence alongside work journals and slave schedules help to shed greater light on these practices. On some estates, women with children worked lighter tasks and at other times they were excused from labor. The farm journals for Nathaniel Phillips' estates listed women from time to time in the occupation category: "pregnant." In 1789 and 1790, between March and June, seven women were registered as "pregnant" and one listed as being "in child-bed." Other worker listings showed their occupational categories and work assignments. For example, the "great gang" ploughed land for replanting, the "small gang" cleaned canes, and "jobbers" trimmed fences while others sewed frocks, and brought food supplies and water. Pregnant and lying-in women were the only ones without assigned tasks, which suggest a full exemption from the numerous roles in which other enslaved people labored. 58

The 1789 and 1790 lists for Phillips' estates offer only a brief window into the practice of reassigning and releasing pregnant women from regular labor roles. Inconsistent record keeping and missing documents make it difficult to trace how extensively women were reassigned labor roles on Phillips' estates. The farm journals have not specified the properties to which these pregnant women belonged and they have only identified enslaved people's work tasks from March to June for the years 1789 and 1790. However, Phillips' population registers reveal some degree of consistency in the number of women listed as pregnant or in child-bed instead of being placed in any regular work category. For the year 1790, Pleasant Hill and Suffolk Park Plantations' records showed that nine out of 118 women bore children and five out of fifty-one women gave birth at Phillipsfield Estate. Overall, fourteen women delivered between the three properties: Suffolk, [End Page 48] Phillipsfield, and Pleasant Hill, and seven were in the category of pregnant for the unlabelled farm journals. 59 Thus while we cannot trace the exact patterns of relieving pregnant women from work, it appears that on Phillips' property at least half of the women received some respite from field labor during pregnancy. Perhaps the other women not listed in the work category "pregnant" were not sufficiently advanced in their pregnancies to receive full respite from labor. Slave schedules from John Tharpe's ten estates and pens shows similar patterns. For instance, the lists for the period between 1800-1818 show women's "condition" as pregnant alongside their occupation ("field" or "house"). In some cases, the entry for women's occupation was listed as "pregnant" with condition: "exempted from work" or "minding her child." 60

As slaveholders reorganized bondwomen's responsibilities, they were forced to come to terms with sixteenth- and seventeenth-century world views that defined enslaved women as "monstrous labour units" who could just as easily drop a child at will and soon after return to toil at the most arduous field tasks. 61 Across New World slave societies, slaveowners naturalized the link between bondwomen's reproductive ability and slavery by depicting them as having ease in childbirth and, according to planter Edward Long, they could birth multiple children at once "without a shriek or scream." Enslaved women's so-called capability to give birth and then return to labor "two, or, at most three days" afterwards evidenced their brutishness and suitability for both productive and reproductive exploitation. 62 Enslavement required not just the construction of denigrated bodies, but also the construction of corporeal differences between enslaver and enslaved. Women's ability to bear children was a primary site of divergence. Enslaved black women's fecundity thus became linked to reproducing slavery, and white women were defined as "reproducers of freedom." 63 Contrasting birthing abilities marked the basis of such differences. Thus for white women childbirth was difficult and dangerous and, unlike black women who could balance the most demanding manual labor alongside bearing children, expectant white mothers were to "avoid all 'acts of exertion'" even so light as "bending down to pull out a drawer." 64

However, at the turn of the nineteenth century, slaveholders had to reconsider earlier assumptions of enslaved women's procreative abilities which were used to map black and white racial separateness. In light of continued population failures, vigilance, previously reserved for childbearing white women, was now passed on to enslaved women. Dr. Collins's earlier warnings to shelter bondwomen from "extraordinary exertions" resonate with Dr. Dancer's precautions to white mothers. Belated acknowledgment of complications associated with pregnancies, which were common to all women, momentarily reprieved bondwomen from racialized misconceptions. [End Page 49] However, racial and economic domination severed the significance of similarities physicians and slaveholders recognized to exist between black and white mothers. 65 Enslaved women's pregnancy and eventual childbirth were bound inextricably to their masters' concern for profits, and changes to labor roles and treatment were meant to secure the birthing of future slaves.

Maintaining a disciplined and efficient labor force was never an easy task. As the historian James Walvin noted, slaveholders needed to strike a balance, however precarious, between "keeping slaves in submission and yet persuading them to give their best." 66 Planters' use of violence or physical punishment was the most obvious, yet limited mechanism of control. Brutality could rouse enslaved people into fearful submission just as much as it could generate antipathy and defiance, or debilitate them physically. 67 When it came to disciplining pregnant women, slaveholders therefore had to tread an even more careful line. Physical punishment could induce miscarriage, permanently sterilize, or result in women's deaths. Despite bondwomen's now delicate predicament, they still needed to be punished in order for slaveholders to extract maximum labor productivity and discipline infractions. Planters deemed whipping as essential for achieving both tasks. Proprietor Matthew Lewis explained, "I am indeed assured by everyone about me [that] it is impossible to manage a West Indian estate without the use of the cartwhip." 68

By virtue of being enslaved, all women, including pregnant ones, were vulnerable to being flogged. Enslaved woman Mary Prince tells us that from an early age, she learnt "the exact difference between the smart of the rope, the cart-whip, and the cow skin." Our "lives," Prince recalled, "were passed in continual fear, [we] were never secure one moment from a blow." 69 Planter Gilbert Francklyn testified that slaveholders commonly punished the enslaved, including pregnant women, for "slight offences, such as not coming on time to work." 70 In one case, an enslaved woman Hetty gave birth prematurely after "the dreadful chastisement she received from [her] master during her pregnancy." Having failed to secure her masters' cow, which subsequently got loose, Hetty endured a brutal whipping. According to the account, her "master flew into a terrible passion, and notwithstanding her pregnancy, ordered the poor creature to be stripped quite naked and to be tied up to a tree in a yard. He then flogged her as hard as he could lick, both with the whip and cowskin, till she was all over streaming with blood. He rested, and then he beat her again and again. . . . The consequence was that poor Hetty was brought to bed before her time, and was delivered after severe labour of a dead child." A few days later, she succumbed to her wounds. 71

Bearing in mind the need for a future stock of laborers, many slaveowners advocated that overseers use greater "discretion" when punishing [End Page 50] enslaved women. One witness testified to the British Parliament that "within a few hours of their delivery" many pregnant women were still flogged, but "not so severely as upon the men." 72 The problem was that bondwomen were always subject to discretionary punishment, moderated by a subjective standard of measuring severity. However, on some estates, one particular provision was introduced to achieve the dual purposes of penalizing bondwomen for transgressions while still protecting women's procreative capacity. Overseers, reported Dr. Robert Jackson, commonly "dig a hole in the ground, in which they put the bellies of pregnant women while they whip them." While errant women should not go unpunished, Jackson advised, whipping should not be excessive, "endangering the life of the woman or the child." 73 Burying women's wombs while being beaten was a growing practice among Jamaican overseers. Henry Goulbourn reassured his absentee manager, there is "no want of care in their pregnancy" since all precautions were taken to protect their bellies while being flogged. 74 Goulbourn's reassurance to his employer was necessary, as absentee landlords became extremely anxious over their enslaved populations' failure to reproduce. Many absentees believed overseers' punishment played a significant role in retarding plantations' birth rates. Thus overseers were liable to be discharged from their positions for endangering women's unborn children—the estate's future workers. Lord Penrhyn dismissed his overseer after learning how he brutally flogged a group of women, some of whom were pregnant. The extreme cruelty towards women, Lord Penrhyn explained, "discourage [rather] than encourage breeding women." 75 While women were not fully immune from punishment, they received some protection from their owners who advocated that overseers use greater discretion when reprimanding prospective mothers.

Women received added protection during their pregnancy from slaveholders who substituted confinement in place of corporal punishment. Having "a much better effect than stripes," women were imprisoned instead of whipped. Confinement, Dr. John Williamson explained, not only "secures their labour," but also protected women's reproductive abilities. Flogging, Dr. Williamson cautioned, resulted in women developing complications such as "prolapses of the uterus or womb," causing miscarriages and reducing fertility. 76 Women at estates like Golden Grove were confined instead of whipped because property manager Simon Taylor agreed with confinement's greater perceived benefits. According to Taylor's correspondence, all enslaved people under his care were spared corporal punishment. Besides protecting future laborers, less physically brutal methods of correction secured invested capital. Taylor reasoned, "Is it probable that a man gives £67 to £70 for a Negroe will wilfully destroy him [?] Setting humanity aside, will not his interest prompt him to take care of him?" 77 In light of the slave [End Page 51] trade's abolition and slaveholders need to secure their economic interest, some prospective mothers were assured protection from callous overseers.

Confinement not only resulted in less harmful consequences for women and unborn children. But, planters and doctors agreed, confining women more effectively guaranteed their compliance. Women were usually bound for a few hours at noon, or for more extensive periods after work in the evening. Enslaved people generally loathed being deprived of their free time. Break periods offered opportunities for preparing meals, working provision grounds, and bonding with family and community. As Dr. Collins noted, they "abhor confinement, which disables them from attending their own little concerns." 78 Confinement, from an alternative perspective, presented three times the benefits of whipping: penalize the offender, deter repeat offenses, and protect women's reproductive capacities. Thus while bondwomen received some protection from physically debilitating punishment, they were no less subject to their masters' exploitation whose primary aim was to maximize production.

Even though doctors believed that confining pregnant women was a safer alternative to whipping, they advised the planters to use much caution when applied. Dr. Williamson further cautioned that negligent imprisonment had its own ill-effects on females' overall health. Careful attention should be paid to setting time limits, and feeding and properly clothing women before confinement. Imprisoned for long periods, pregnant women were especially vulnerable to colds, fevers, and other health disorders. Such effects were evident among Dr. John Williamson's patients. One woman contracted "a perpetual fever" after being "confined to the stocks for misconduct." She was "liberated a few days before her delivery" of a stillborn child. 79 Williamson remarked, "the above case affords an example of the necessity it is to have legislative imposition to secure the attendance to the Negroes." The failure of increased birth over death rates, he warned, was due to the severity of enslaved women's punishment and to the overall neglect in their care. 80

The point of punishment, then, was not in the absence of whipping but penalizing women in such a manner that protected future workers contained within their wombs. Slaveholders aimed "not to punish less, but to punish better." 81 Substituting one form of punishment for another enabled the achievement of planters' dual objectives. To planters, the bondwoman was merely a "fragmented commodity" whose laboring body was separable from the reproductive body. 82 Enslaved women's wombs functioned as "containers" for replacement laborers and precautions were aimed at ensuring safe development and delivery. 83 Therefore, by whipping women across the shoulders or burying their wombs in the ground, slaveholders roused bondwomen into submission and still benefited from their reproductive [End Page 52] capacity. Mitigating prospective mothers' punishment hardly ameliorated their condition. Instead, their lives and bodies were more carefully regulated and scrutinized to ensure increased birth rates and fill targeted sugar quotas.

Recognizing that violence alone could not guarantee bondpeople's compliance, slaveholders offered incentives. Women received money, gifts, and free time for complying with their masters' reproductive goals. At Thomas River and Denbigh Estates, women received various sums of money according to the number of children born. For "every child she bore," the overseer wrote, "the mother of the infant" received payment of three farthings "to buy the little stranger a fowl to commence its little life." 84 Women at Golden Grove estate had higher remunerations of "a quarter of a dollar" for each child successfully brought to term. Other special gifts included: rum and sugar for women's personal use; protein rich foods like beans, peas, and pork to boost children's nutrition; "soap" and clean "baby linens" to protect "newborns" from germicidal infection. 85 "Indulgences," Dr. Collins encouraged, will "render them more desirable to become [mothers]." 86 Having completely abolished whipping on his property, proprietor Matthew Lewis espoused that "A little flattery," has a far greater effect on them than the "execrable chart-whip." Like a "dog that grows attached to the person who feeds and makes much of him," so it was with "my negroes." 87

Privilege schemes were more elaborate on some properties than others. At Cornwall Estate, women received a combination of money, gifts, and "medals of honour" for each successful pregnancy. Following the christening of newborns, Cornwall's owner, Matthew Lewis, called the mothers "up to the table . . . giving a dollar each, and told them, that for the future they might claim the same sum." Mothers also received "a present of a scarlet girdle with a silver medal in the centre." This medal should be worn at "feasts and [on] holidays, when it should entitle her to marks of peculiar respect and attention, such as being one of the first served, and receiving a larger portion than the rest." Such festive occasions included a newly initiated estate "play days" where mothers with "living children" received special recognition. New mothers were additionally forgiven their "first fault" upon showing the overseer "this girdle. She should always put it [the medal] round her waist, and be assured that on seeing it, the overseer would allow the wearer to be entitled to an additional indulgence and [would] have any favour" she requested. The more children a woman conceived and bore, the more "indulgences" she received. "On every additional child an additional medal is to be affixed to the belt, and precedence is to follow the greater number of medals." 88

Planter Matthew Lewis labelled his practice of awarding mothers with money and medals an "order of honour." Dishonoring slaves had always been an essential defining feature of human bondage. As the sociologist [End Page 53] Orlando Patterson argued, "slaves were always persons dishonoured in a generalised way." 89 However, beneath the veneer of honor was the psychological oppression of bondwomen. Medals of honor, which entitled mothers to greater food allowances, functioned akin to physical violence. Withholding larger proportions of food, with which slaveholders were required to provide their enslaved people, aimed at securing compliance. Enslaved women were susceptible to new abuses and favorable treatment (manipulations) according to expected output. 90 Their growing importance to the plantation and slavery economy was visible in slaveholders' elaborate incentives schemes.

Women's significance as reproducers of the labor force did not eclipse their roles as sugar cultivators. Bondwomen instead had to balance childbearing responsibilities alongside their work as field and factory laborers. Planters no longer viewed pregnancy and childbirth as distracting enslaved women from their primary roles in producing sugar. Slaveholders carefully regulated sex ratios, labor routines, and punishment in order to ensure that bondwomen could efficiently perform their dual roles. In the age of abolitionism, enslaved women's lives were defined by their procreative abilities regenerating the slave labor system and their manual laboring abilities manufacturing sugar for the export market.

Increasing the number of females, improving labor conditions, and worker discipline altered enslaved women's lives on the Jamaican plantations. Women undoubtedly had improved chances of bringing their infants to term because they had greater access to basic necessities, medical care, and were less subjected to debilitating punishment. However, improved treatment aimed at ensuring the future viability of the slave system in the nineteenth century, reified sixteenth-century racial gender discourses that aligned black women's procreative capacities with the reproduction of slavery. The abolition of the slave trade brought full circle the centrality of enslaved women's fertility to the plantation economy. Women were important for birthing future laborers. Reproduction in slavery's twilight years thus no longer just symbolized hereditary slavery; black women's reproductive abilities became the lifeblood of perpetuating Jamaica's sugar economy.

Sasha Turner

Sasha Turner earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of Cambridge in May 2008. She is currently an assistant professor in the department of history at Quinnipiac University. Her research focuses on women in the Caribbean and she is currently working on a project on women in slavery during the periods of abolition and emancipation, 1788-1838, with emphasis on reproduction, motherhood, and family. She has held post-doctoral fellowships at Rutgers University in 2008 and at Washington University in 2009.


. Early versions of this article were presented at several conferences, including the Fourteenth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women in 2008 and the Jamaica National Bicentenary Committee/Institute of Jamaica/Society for Caribbean Research, Bicentenary Conference commemorating the abolition of the slave trade in 2007. The author wishes to thank the discussants and audiences at these gatherings for providing helpful feedback. I extend gratitude to: the editors and [End Page 54] anonymous reviewers at the JWH for their insightful comments and suggestions in making this article more focused; Jean Allman, Jennifer Morgan, Timothy Parsons, Peter Kastor, Brian Moore, John Campbell, Nancy Hewitt, and Beth Hutchinson for reading drafts and providing critical advice and direction; my "Sistah Scholar" working group, friends and family whose encouragement, support and comments at key moments in the writing of this article have been invaluable.

1. For full details on Simon Taylor's extensive attorneyship and proprietorship, see Richard Sheridan, "Simon Taylor, Sugar Tycoon of Jamaica, 1740-1813," Journal of Agricultural History 45, no. 4 (1971): 285-296.

2. Jamaica Estate Papers (Hereinafter JEP): Agents' Correspondence and Accounts. Vanneck-Arcedekne Family Papers, Cambridge University Library. Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedekne, 6 September 1789.

3. JEP, Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedekne, 23 July 1770.

4. Despite the fact that slaveholders preferred to buy males, they bought women in large numbers. A number of factors determined the sex of workers bought for the plantations, including composition of supply, timing of purchase, and availability of credit. For discussions on these various factors, see David W. Galenson, Traders, Planters, and Slaves: Market Behavior in Early English America (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 110-142; B. W. Higman, Plantation Jamaica, 1750-1850: Capital and Control in a Colonial Economy (Kingston, Jamaica and Norman: University of the West Indies Press; Distributed by the University of Oklahoma Press, 2005) 109-112; David Ryden, West Indian Slavery and British Abolition, 1783-1807 (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009) 133-156.

5. William Beckford, Remarks upon the Situation of Negroes in Jamaica, Impartially made from a Local Experience of nearly Thirteen Years in that Island (London: Printed for T. and J. Egerton, Military Library, Whitehall, 1788), 13.

6. Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons, Sessional Papers [Microform] (London: H.M.S.O., c.1696), Accounts and Papers 1789. Vol. Xxvl No. 635-645.

7. Few exceptions were evident. For example, Joseph Barham opted to discontinue purchasing new recruits from Africa while experimenting on a reproductive plan on his property. For discussion of Barham's practices, see Richard S. Dunn, "Dreadful Idlers" in the "Cane Fields: The Slave Labor Pattern on a Jamaican Sugar Estate, 1762-1831," Journal of Interdisciplinary History 17, no. 4, (Spring, 1987): 795-822.

8. Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons, Sessional Papers [Microform] Accounts and Papers 1789 Vol. Xxvl No. 635-645.

9. Lucille Mathurin Mair, A Historical Study of Women in Jamaica: 1655-1844 (Kingston, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press, 2006); Jennifer L. Morgan, Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 81.

10. Mair, A Historical Study of Women in Jamaica, 117-118

11. Morgan, Laboring Women, 3. [End Page 55]

12. Bush, Slave Women, 134. Hilary Beckles, Centering Woman: Gender Discourses in Caribbean Slave Society (Kingston, Jamaica, Princeton, NJ, and Oxford: Ian Randle; M. Wiener; James Currey, 1999).

13. Hilary Beckles, Centering Woman, Xx.

14. Thomas Cooper and Charles Wheeler, Letters on the Slave Trade (Manchester, UK: C. Wheeler, 1787), 8, 17, 22, 24.

15. Substance of the Debates on the Resolution for Abolishing the Slave Trade (London: Phillips and Fardon,[1806]),38. This article's discussion of abolitionist criticism of slaves' conditions is an extremely simplified version, and does not fully encapsulate the motives, contradictions, and changes in the platform on which abolitionists campaigned for the ending of the slave trade and slavery. For the most recent and fuller discussions on the nuances of British abolitionism see Seymour Drescher, The Mighty Experiment: Free Labor Versus Slavery in British Emancipation (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2002). Christopher Brown, Moral Capital: Foundations of British Abolitionism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006); Ryden, West Indian Slavery and British Abolition.

16. Seymour Drescher, The Mighty Experiment, 34

17. Drescher, The Mighty Experiment, 34, 35, 47.

18. Great Britain. Parliament, 1792. House of Commons and William Wilber-force, The Debate on a Motion for the Abolition of the Slave-Trade, in the House of Commons on Monday the Second of April, 1792, Reported in Detail (London,1792), 144.

19. For discussions on pro and antislavery representations of black sexuality and motherhood, see Henrice Altink, Representations of Slave Women in Discourses on Slavery and Abolition, 1780-1838 (New York: Routledge, 2007).

20. See Drescher, The Mighty Experiment, 34-53

21. Henry Goulbourn cited in Heather Cateau, "Things Fall Apart: Abolition, the Slave Trade and Enslavement," The Arts Journal 3, no. 1 & 2 (2007): 105-120.

22. JEP, Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedekne, 18 January 1794. Historians have variously discussed the reasons for population decline, including sex imbalances, strenuous work loads, inadequate medical care, and nutritional imbalances. For these discussions, see Elsa V. Goveia, Slave Society in the British Leeward Islands at the End of the Eighteenth Century (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965); Richard Sheridan, "Slave Demography in the British West Indies and the Abolition of the Slave Trade," in The Abolition of the Atlantic Slave Trade: Origins and Effects in Europe, Africa and the Americas, eds. David Eltis and James Walvin (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1981); B. W. Higman, Slave Populations of the British Caribbean, 1807-1834 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984); Richard B. Sheridan, Doctors and Slaves: A Medical and Demographic History of Slavery in the British West Indies, 1680-1834 (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985); J. R. Ward, British West Indian Slavery, 1750-1834: The Process of Amelioration (Oxford and New York: Clarendon Press and Oxford University Press, 1988); Stanley L. Engerman and B. W. Higman, "The Demographic Structure of the Caribbean Slave Societies [End Page 56] in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries," in General History of the Caribbean, ed. Franklin Knight, Vol. III (London and Oxford: UNESCO Publishing, 1999); Kenneth Morgan, "Slave Women and Reproduction in Jamaica, c.1776-1834," The Journal of the Historical Association 91, no. 302 (2006), 231-253.

23. B. W. Higman, Slave Population and Economy in Jamaica, 1807-1834 (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1976); 72-73

24. JER, Accounts of Increase and Decrease, 1792, 1797.

25. B. W. Higman, "Household Structure and Fertility on Jamaican Slave Plantations: A Nineteenth Century Example," Population Studies 27, no. 3 (1973): 527-550. See also Herbert S. Klein, The Atlantic Slave Trade (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999).

26. B. W. Higman, Slave Population and Economy in Jamaica,72-73, 80-98.

27. Penrhyn Castle Mss relating to the West Indies, University of the West Indies, Jamaica (hereinafter Penrhyn Mss), Richard Pennant to Rowland Fearon, 8 January 1805, 25 March 1805, 23 August 1805. For similar increases in "sex selective" purchases see Michael Craton and James Walvin, A Jamaican Plantation; the History of Worthy Park 1670-1970 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1970), 130-132; Sheridan, Slave Demography, 270.

28. Beckford, Remarks upon the Situation of Negroes in Jamaica, 14.

29. JEP, Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedekne, 1 November 1789.

30. Slebeech Collection National Library of Wales (Hereinafter Slebeech Mss), Thomas Barritt to Nathaniel Phillips, 1 July 1795.

31. Venereal disease was another important factor responsible for low birth rates, which increasingly attracted planters' and doctor's attention. See, ; Cateau, Things Fall Apart, 105-120.

32. Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons, Sessional Papers [Microform] Accounts and Papers 1789 Vol. Xxvl No. 635-645.

33. Great Britain. Parliament, 1792. House of Commons and Wilberforce, The Debate on a Motion for the Abolition of the Slave-Trade, in the House of Commons on Monday the Second of April, 1792, Reported in Detail, 171, 43-44. See also Sheridan, Slave Demography, 268.

34. Jamaica Archives, Spanish Town, Laws of Jamaica, 1792-1799, 280-284

35. All data derived from Voyages Database, 2009. Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, (accessed January 7, 2010). The slave trade database confirms earlier conclusions by Richard Sheridan that there was a dramatic increase in the number of Africans purchased in the last decade before the abolition of the slave trade. This was due to the destruction of St. Dominique, the largest and most productive plantation colony, which allowed the British colonies to capture the "lion's share of the tropical trades." See Sheridan, Slave Demography, 270. See also Seymour Drescher, Econocide: British Slavery in the Era of Abolition (Pittsburgh, [End Page 57] PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1977); Ward, British West Indian Slavery; Ryden, West Indian Slavery and British Abolition.

36. For earlier arguments confirming Jamaica's uneven sex ratios, see G. W. Roberts, The Population of Jamaica (Cambridge: Published for the Conservation Foundation at the University Press, 1957), 70-73; Richard S. Dunn, "Sugar Production and Slave Women in Jamaica," in Cultivation and Culture: Labor and the Shaping of Life in the Americas, eds. Ira Berlin and Philip D. Morgan (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1993), 50-51.

37. Figures derived from Voyages Database, 2009 (accessed January 7, 2010). Note that percentages of sex ratio were not always listed in the database. For example, there is no data for the periods 1798 to 1806, and for the year 1808. Thus averages presented are based only on figures given. For discussions, see Ivana Elbl, "The Volume of the Early Atlantic Slave Trade, 1450-1521," The Journal of African History 38, no. 1 (1997): 31-75.; David Eltis, "The Volume and Structure of the Transatlantic Slave Trade: A Reassessment," The William and Mary Quarterly 58, no. 1 New Perspectives on the Transatlantic Slave Trade (Jan., 2001): 17-46.

38. Scholars concluded that a number of factors shaped the slave trade's sex ration. These factors included a greater absorption of females into regional African trade routes who were more valuable in these local markets than men. See Martin A. Klein, "Women and Slavery in the Western Sudan," in Women and Slavery in Africa, eds. Claire C. Robertson and Martin A. Klein (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983), 67-68, 77-83. See also David Geggus, "Sex Ratio, Age, and Ethnicity in the Atlantic Slave Trade: Data from French Shipping and Plantation Records," Journal of African History 30 (1989): 23-44.; Ugo G. Nwokeji, "African Conceptions of Gender and the Slave Traffic," William and Mary Quarterly 58, no. 1 (2001): 47-68; Paul E. Lovejoy and David Richardson, "Competing Markets for Male and Female Slaves: Prices in the Interior of West Africa, 1780-1850," The International Journal of African Historical Studies 28, no. 2 (1995): 261-293; Paul E. Lovejoy, "Internal Markets Or an Atlantic Saharan Divide: How Women Fit into the Slave Trade of West Africa," in Women and Slavery, eds. Gwyn Campbell, Suzanne Miers, and Joseph Calder Miller (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007); Klein, The Atlantic Slave Trade, 234. 161-163.

39. Edward Long, The History of Jamaica : Reflections on its Situation, Settlements, Inhabitants, Climate, Products, Commerce, Laws, and Government, Vol. II (Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 2002), 437

40. JEP, Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedekne 5 July 1789, 1 November 1789.

41. For an in-depth study of Golden Grove's demographic performance, see Betty Wood and Roy Clayton, "Slave Birth, Death and Disease on Golden Grove Plantation, Jamaica, 1765-1810," Slavery & Abolition 6, no. 2 (1985).

42. Craton and Walvin, A Jamaican Plantation. 138.

43. Ibid.; Dunn, "Dreadful Idlers," 795-822.

44. Gale Morant Family Papers 1731-1845, University of the West Indies Library Mounthindermost Accounts: Summary of Slave Occupations. [End Page 58]

45. M. G. Lewis and Mona Wilson, Journal of a West India Proprietor, 1815-17, ed. Mona Wilson (London: G. Routledge & sons: ltd, 1929), 108.

46. Penrhyn Mss, Richard Pennant (Lord Penrhyn) to Fraser Fearon, 30 October 1804, Fraser Fearon to Richard Pennant 7 January 1805.

47. Maria Nugent Lady, Philip Wright, and Verene Shepherd, Lady Nugent's Journal of Her Residence in Jamaica from 1801 to 1805 (Mona, Jamaica: University of the West Indies, 2002), 69.

48. Barbara Bush, Slave Women in Caribbean Society, 1650-1838 (Kingston and Bloomington: Heinemann Caribbean and Indiana University Press, 1990), 45.

49. Penrhyn Mss, Fraser Fearon to Richard Pennant, 7 January 1805.

50. Note that these doctors were only those recorded in the islands' inventories. For the most comprehensive analysis of the role of medical practitioners in Jamaica during slavery see Richard Sheridan, "Mortality and the Medical Treatment of Slaves in the British West Indies," in Race and Slavery in the Western Hemisphere: Quantitative Studies, eds. Stanley L. Engerman and Eugene D. Genovese (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975), 299; Sheridan, Doctors and Slaves, 52

51. Collins, Practical Rules for the Management and Medical Treatment of Negro Slaves, in the Sugar Colonies (London: J. Barfield for Vernor and Hood, 1803); William Sells, Remarks on the Condition of the Slaves in the Island of Jamaica (London: J.M. Richardson, Cornhill, and Ridgways, 1823); Wood and Clayton, "Slave Birth, Death and Disease."

52. Sells, Remarks on the Condition of the Slaves, 17.

53. Collins, Practical Rules for the Management and Medical Treatment of Negro Slaves, 236, 384.

54. Penrhyn Mss, David Ewart to Lord Penrhyn, 6 August 1807.

55. Sells, Remarks on the Condition of the Slaves, 17.

56. Penrhyn Mss, David Ewart to Lord Penrhyn, 6 August 1807.

57. For discussions on the notions of "medicalization of pregnancy and childbirth" see, Barbara Katz Rothman, "Beyond Mothers and Fathers: Ideology in a Patriarchal Society," in Mothering: Ideology, Experience and Agency, eds. Evelyn Nakano Glenn, Grace Chang, and Linda Forcey (New York and London: Routledge, 1994), 144-145. See also Schwartz's discussion the greater input of medical doctors to the plantation at this time served to advanced not just planters interests, but also medical experimentation. Marie Jenkins Schwartz, Birthing a Slave: Motherhood and Medicine in the Antebellum South (Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 2006).

58. Slebeech Mss, Farm Journals 1789, 1790.

59. Slebeech Mss, Account of Increase and Decrease 1789, 1790.

60. Tharp Estates in Jamaica, 1670-1870. Cambridgeshire County Record Office, Quarterly inventories of slaves and stocks on John Tharp's Estates 1798-1817. [End Page 59]

61. For a discussion of these views see, Beckles, Centering Woman.; Jennifer L. Morgan, "Some could Suckle Over their Shoulders: Male Travellers, Female Bodies, and the Gendering of Racial Ideology, 1500-1770," William and Mary Quarterly 54, no. 1 (1997), 167-192.

62. For citation see Long, The History of Jamaica, 380, 385. And for fuller discussions on the black female's image in white minds see Barbara Bush, "White Ladies, Coloured Favourites and Black Wenches; some Considerations on Race, Sex, and Class Factors in Social Relations in White Creole Society in the British Caribbean," Slavery & Abolition 2, no. 3 (1980-, 1981); Bush, Slave Women, 11-22; Morgan, Some could Suckle, 167-192. Verene Shepherd, "Gender and Representation in European Accounts in Pre-Emancipation Jamaica," in Caribbean Slavery in the Atlantic World: A Student Reader, eds. Hilary Beckles and Verene Shepherd, Rev. and expanded ed. (Kingston, Jamaica; Oxford; and Princeton, NJ: Ian Randle; James Currey; M. Weiner, 2000).702-711.

63. Cecily Jones, Engendering Whiteness: White Women and Colonialism in Barbados and North Carolina, 1627-1865 (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press; Distributed exclusively in the USA by Palgrave, 2007), 21

64. Bush, Slave Women, 134; Lucille Mathurin Mair, A Historical Study of Women in Jamaica: 1655-1844 (Kingston, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press, 2006). 117-118.

65. On the construction of black motherhood and rationalizing of reproduction for economic needs see Rothman, Beyond Mothers and Fathers: Ideology in a Patriarchal Society, 145; Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment, Rev 10th anniversary, 2 ed. (New York: Routledge, 2000), 335; 142-143.

66. Walvin, Questioning Slavery, 49-50.

67. For fuller discussions on these ideas relating to the careful balance slaveholders needed to strike between discipline and compliance, see James Walvin, Questioning Slavery, 49-50. And for discussion on the role of the state in regulating punishment see Diana Paton, No Bond but the Law: Punishment, Race and Gender in Jamaican State Formation, 1780-1870 (Durham and London: Duke University press, 2004).

68. Lewis and Wilson, Journal of a West India Proprietor, 104.

69. Mary Prince and Moira Ferguson, The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993), 14-15.

70. Great Britain, Parliament. House of Commons, Sessional Papers [Microform] Accounts and Papers 1790 Nos. 697 and 698, 85.

71. Prince and Ferguson, The History of Mary Prince, 15-16.

72. Great Britain, Parliament. House of Commons, Sessional Papers [Microform] Accounts and Papers Vol. Xxiv, No.745-748.

73. Great Britain, Parliament. House of Commons. Select Committee Appointed [End Page 60] to Take the Examination of Witnesses Respecting the African Slave Trade, An Abstract of the Evidence Delivered before a Select Committee of the House of Commons [Proceedings. 1790-1791.] (Edinburgh: printed at the joint expense of the Glasgow and Edinburgh Societies, instituted for the abolition of the slave trade, 1791), 55.

74. Selwyn H. H. Carrington, The Sugar Industry and the Abolition of the Slave Trade, 1775-1810 (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002), 154.

75. Penrhyn Mss, Rowland Fearon to Lord Penrhyn, 7 January 1804.

76. John Williamson, Medical and Miscellaneous Observations Relative to the West India Islands, Vol. I (Edinburgh, 1817) and Vol. II, 205; Collins, Practical Rules for the Management and Medical Treatment of Negro Slaves, 178; Great Britain, Parliament. Abridgement of Minutes of the Evidence taken before a Committee of the whole house to whom it was referred to consider the slave trade, 1789, 47.

77. JEP, Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedekne, 23 September 1788.

78. Great Britain, Parliament, 1792. House of Commons and Wilberforce, The Debate on a Motion for the Abolition of the Slave-Trade, in the House of Commons on Monday the Second of April, 1792, Reported in Detail, 171; Great Britain, Parliament. House of Commons, Sessional Papers [Microform] Accounts and Papers 1790. Vol. Xxi Nos. 697-698.87, 108; Collins, Practical Rules for the Management and Medical Treatment of Negro Slaves, 225.

79. Williamson, Medical and Miscellaneous Observations, Vol. I,191

80. Ibid., 274 and Ibid., Vol. II, 208.

81. Michel Foucault and Alan Sheridan, Discipline and Punish : The Birth of the Prison (New York: Vintage Books, 1979; 1977), 82.

82. Barbara Omolade, The Rising Song of African American Women (New York: Routledge, 1994),7. And for general discussion of the notion of "commodified parts" of black womanhood see, Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought, 143.

83. On notion of women's wombs as vessels see Rothman, Beyond Mothers and Fathers, 145.

84. Penrhyn Mss, Rowland Fearon to Lord Penrhyn, 7 January 1804 and 6 August 1807.

85. JEP, Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedekne, 19 January 1798, 1 November 1798, and 4 February 1794.

86. Collins, Practical Rules for the Management and Medical Treatment of Negro Slaves, 134.

87. Lewis Journal of a West India Proprietor, 104-105.

88. Ibid., 107-108.

89. Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1982),10. [End Page 61]

90. See Walter Johnson, The Chattel Principle: Internal Slave Trades in the Americas (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004),1; David Brion Davis, Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 30. [End Page 62]

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