St.Vincent and the grenadines community college
The Caribbean: A history of Chattel Slavery and what it brought to the Caribbean
| An Internal Assessment
“By the 19th century the slave ship had brought much more than chattel slaves to the Caribbean.”
Chattel Slavery affected the Caribbean by bringing it from its Mesoamerican roots to the vibrant mix of races that coexist and cohabitate it today. The Africans and other races brought their art, music and their very way of life to the Caribbean. I am researching this topic to go in depth and examine how the Caribbean came to be what it is today. I am driven to research this topic because it means something to us as a people, something that is worth knowing, and something that is worth remembering. It will bring the bond with our ancestral ties stronger than ever before. Knowledge is power and knowing our past will make us linked to one another. This is a step to unity to us in the Caribbean. There are arguments against this view and blatant disregard for the obvious changes in the world have been made. There are some with the beliefs of White supremacy but all this adds in the mix of different beliefs in the Caribbean. Never before in history have an entire society and race of people have been affected in such a large scale. Nonetheless, one can give thanks to our European forefathers, if those events did not occur, the Caribbean could not be the community as we knew it today. Chattel slavery not only brought commerce to its geographically unique location but it also resulted in a rich and colorful world, complete with its own mix of cultures, music, art and belief systems.
Chapter 1: Origin of Chattel Slavery in the Caribbean
The term “chattel” is defined as an article of tangible, personal property. One can therefore see the underlying effect of the choice of words in comparison to how the Europeans viewed the black race. They viewed the African race as a sub-species, animalistic and inhumane. This was because of their color and their religion and way of life. One must remember the Europeans believed that their religion was the only one and true way so that means their way of life was viewed as pagan. Eric Williams however stated that “Slavery was not born of racism: rather, racism was the consequence of slavery. Unfree labor in the New World was brown, white, black and yellow; Catholic, Protestant and Pagan” (7) It is his opinion that racism was not a beneficial factor in the creation of the institution of Slavery but in my further studies, race did in fact play an important role in the enslavement of the African people. Also, one can see from Williams’ deduction that religion also played a role, it was categorized according to what race you were. The labor force however comprised of the Mesoamerican inhabitants of the Caribbean, White indentured servants from Europe and Africans. White indentured servants were whites who worked in the Caribbean. There is a notable difference in their title in that, they were called servants instead of slaves. Again, white supremacy reigned in the society at that time. There was an economic need for cheap labor, hence Africans were in high abundance and it was quite cheap to acquire them and ship them across through the Atlantic to the New World. They were also a form of human capital, being property; a value was put over their head. The money which procured a white man’s services for ten years could buy a Negro for life. The economic superiority of free hired labor over slave is obvious even to the slave owner. Slave labor is given reluctantly, it is unskillful, and it lacks versatility. Not so much that the Europeans were the only ones playing apart in enslaving the Africans, but it was also African sons and brothers who helped to facilitate this. There were the men who were paid to acquire the required persons for shipment. They were known as middlemen, so...
Bibliography: 1. Hilary Beckles, Shepherd, Verene. Liberties Lost: Caribbean Indigenous Societies and Slave Systems. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
2. Williams, Eric. Capitalism and Slavery. United States of America: The University of North Carolina Press, 1994.
3. Verene Shepherd, Beckles, Hilary. Caribbean Slavery in the Atlantic World. Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers, 2000
[ 1 ]. Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery. United States of America, The University of North Carolina Press, 1994, 19
[ 2 ]. Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery. United States of America, The University of North Carolina Press, 1994, 6
[ 3 ]. Hilary Beckles, Liberties Lost: Caribbean Indigenous Societies and Slave Systems. United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2004, 137
[ 4 ]. Hilary Beckles, Liberties Lost: Caribbean Indigenous Societies and Slave Systems. United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2004, 138
[ 5 ]. Hilary Beckles, Liberties Lost: Caribbean Indigenous Societies and Slave Systems. United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2004, 147
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