An 18th Century Plantation Society

Topics: Sugar, Caribbean, Plantation Pages: 10 (1968 words) Published: June 4, 2015
An 18th century Plantation Society
What is a Plantation Society?
The plantation society was one which was highly stratified socially and economically. This meant that based on one’s race they were being seen differently on the plantation. That is, the whites were the superiors and the blacks were the inferiors Monoculture: One Crop Economy

Dependence was centered on a mono crop.
Meaning that life on the plantation was centered around the cultivation of sugar cane. Social Structure (stratification) of a Plantation Economy

Class and Status
White Class:
divided by ECONOMICS and OCCUPATION i.e. number of slaves
Made up of 2 groups:
the wealthy whites (Grands Blancs: Governors, Plantocracy, Attorneys etc.) the poorer whites (Petits Blancs: Teachers, book keepers, doctors) Free Persons of Colour
i.e. Mulattoes > Free Blacks
Worked in trades and services, as well as military
Found mostly in urban areas, many were women Divided by complexion and shades of colour

Enslaved Blacks
Divided based on occupation.
i.e. Skilled & Domestic > Field Slaves
Division of roles on a Sugar Plantation
The Whites: The Planter
At the top of the plantation social hierarchy was a white planter or owner: Master of the plantation
Lived in luxury in the Great House with his family
made all major decisions that gave direction to the plantation system. decided on the type of slave organization, the size of the slave labour force and the purchasing and selling of slaves. The Overseer

The second in rank on the plantation . He was usually recruited from families of the planter. Managed the estate and made decisions about crops, sugar manufacture and labour on the plantations Ensured a smooth, efficient and productive operation of the plantation Clerks and bookkeepers

These were usually poorer whites. There were also stock room clerks and slave supervisors in this group.

The Blacks: House or Domestic slaves
Performed roles related to domestic housework.
Included; nurses, cooks, body servants, butlers, laundry women, seamstresses, maids and the artisans/ skilled slaves who lived in close contact with the white owner and his family. They also had significantly easier work than the field slaves and held a higher status The Field or Preadial  Slaves

Considered to be lower in status v7ygv 7t6 than the domestic slaves. They made up majority of the population. Slaves worked in fields under the supervisionof slave supervisors/ drivers. The field slaves were divided into 3 gangs. First Gang -The young and strong, responsible for the hardest work such as holing, cutting and planting. Second gang made up of the sick, pregnant women and youths. They did the lighter work such as weeding and harrowing. *Third gang - children and very old who did the light weeding and cared for the animals Treatment of Class, Race and Colour

Beauty was closely connected to the European physical features & light complexion. People who possessed these features were viewed as being the highest in society As such, social mobility was impossible between some classes and very hard between others. White society was closed to anyone with any coloured blood at all, but the whites encouraged stratification according to colour amongst the coloureds to divide them Notions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ hair was spoken of, the slaves were known to have ‘bad’ hair and the whites ‘good’ hair. This too would contributed to the treatment that persons received. Religion within the Plantation Society

The Europeans held on to the Anglican Faith (in the British West Indies) and to Roman Catholic faith (in the French and Spanish West Indies), while also trying to indoctrinate the enslaved. The enslaved on the plantations were seen as pagans by the Europeans. The slaves kept tribal customs and cults such as obeah, myalism, and vodun . The belief in a supreme being was of value, as well as afterlife, as a result of this many enslaved...
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