Nieuwe West-Indische gids
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00099461/00077
 Material Information
Title: Nieuwe West-Indische gids
Alternate Title: New West Indian guide
Portion of title: NWIG
Abbreviated Title: Nieuwe West-Indische gids
Physical Description: v. : ill. ; 25 cm.
Language: Dutch
Publisher: M. Nijhoff
Place of Publication: 's-Gravenhage
Creation Date: 1989
Frequency: four no. a year
completely irregular
Subjects / Keywords: Civilization -- Periodicals -- Caribbean Area   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
serial   ( sobekcm )
Citation/Reference: America, history and life
Citation/Reference: Historical abstracts. Part A. Modern history abstracts
Citation/Reference: Historical abstracts. Part B. Twentieth century abstracts
Language: Dutch or English.
Dates or Sequential Designation: 40. jaarg. (juli 1960)-
General Note: Published: Dordrecht : Foris Publications, <1986->
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of the Netherlands Antilles
Holding Location: University of the Netherlands Antilles
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000273853
oclc - 01760350
notis - ABP9733
lccn - sn 86012467
issn - 0028-9930
System ID: UF00099461:00077
 Related Items
Preceded by: West-Indische gids
Preceded by: Christoffel
Preceded by: Vox guyane


This item is only available as the following downloads:

( PDF )

Full Text


4 PETER BOOMGAARD & GERT J. OOSTINDIE (and indeed has been) asked, whether there existed any concurrent connection between technological development and changing labour relations in the Caribbean. And if so, how far the timing of the one was determined by the development phases of the other. In the historiography of the Caribbean two major schools of thought have formulated explicit ideas on this subject. The Abolitionists argued that slavery was an obstacle to efficient production because the availability of cheap labour had rendered the application of new, labour-saving techniques unnecessary. Slavery, therefore, had created a tradition-oriented class of planters.2 Secondly, marxist historians often have argued that an advanced technology and the existence of slavery are incompatible. Complicated, modern factories cannot be operated with slave labour; slavery, so the argument runs, had to vanish before the sugar industry could become thoroughly modernized. These notions have permeated the historiography of the Caribbean sugar industry in the nineteenth century. Over the last decades, however, several scholars have reconsidered the sugar technology labour nexus more thoroughly, casting doubt on both the underlying assumptions and the empirical viability of the two older theses. Clearly these notions can do with some rethinking. The discussion of sugar technology and the labour nexus is often embedded in a broader context, namely the debate on the profitability and viability of slave labour as such. It may be useful to disentangle some of the issues at stake. First, the economic background of abolition is still hotly debated. Since the publication of Drescher's Econocide (1977), the historiographical orthodoxy seems to be shifting from the economic determinism of Ragatz (1928) and Williams (1944) to Drescher's thesis, namely that the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade was brought about by genuine abolitionist fervour, not by a preceding decline in the profitability of the slave trade and West Indian slavery. Did the ending of the trade immediately result in declining profitability of slavery itself? Here too, recent debates have corrected some of the older economistic orthodoxies. It may be true that in the long run slavery without a replenishing slave trade to correct a usually negative demographic performance of the slave populations was not feasible or at least less profitable. Yet, recent research has contradicted at least the immediacy of a so-called age-related crisis of slavery. As Rebecca Scott (1985:91-7)


6 PETER BOOMGAARD & GERT J. OOSTINDIE eighteenth century for being less inventive than the nineteenth. It seems untenable to attribute a major importance to the region's mode of labour here. Metropolitan factors also significantly influenced the level and diffusion of innovation in the Caribbean. The availability of capital and technical know-how in the metropolis may be mentioned in this context, as well as absenteeism and the degree to which both the metropolitan government and West Indian interest groups in the metropolis stimulated the transfer of technologies to their Caribbean dependencies6 An example may be useful here. The diffusion of innovations implemented in British Guiana's sugar industry in the three decades following emancipation undoubtedly compares favourably with the improvements realized during the same period in neighbouring Suriname, where slavery was upheld until 1863. Yet, on reading Adamson's (1972: 167-77) analysis of British Guiana's technological progress, one feels that British capital and know-how (and the fact that Guiana was a 'new frontier') rather than the labour issue made the difference. After all, Suriname also faced acute labour shortages long before the abolition of slavery. Finally, the actual profitability of the plantation sector determined the possibility of internally generating capital for innovative investments. Obviously, there existed crucial variations within the Caribbean as to these factors. Yet, whatever the different outcomes, all territories shared a predominance of slave labour well into the nineteenth century. Attributing their different records of innovation primarily to the mode of labour therefore seems highly questionable. In fact, it can easily be demonstrated that between 1833 and 1890 some slaveholding societies were characterized by profitable plantations, whereas other slaveholding economies were not. The same is true of non-slaveholding societies, of which some could boast of a profitable plantation sector, and others not.' CONSERVATIVE SLAVEHOLDERS? This being said, we may now turn to the heart of the matter. The debate will be separated into two related questions. First, did low levels of invention/innovation characterize slave-holding plantation economies, and if so, can this be attributed to the presence of a large, relatively cheap labour force rendering superfluous all attempts to introduce innovations? Second, we will examine the proposed incompatibility of slave labour with technological innovation in more detail.


8 PETER BOOMGAARD & GERT J. OOSTINDIE Another remarkable 'oversight' of the planters was the use of the plough. This at least has often been suggested. Yet the story of the plough in the Caribbean is a good example of the complicated nature of the problems we are dealing with. In general terms it is quite clear that the use of the plough instead of the hoe is a labour-saving innovation. Several factors, however, militated against using the plough in the West Indies. The rather shallow topsoil was much more subject to dehydration and erosion than the heavy European soils, while steep slopes and soils were too stony for the plough. Next, the presence of many drains and canals in 'polder'like areas such as Suriname and British Guiana inhibited ploughing. Finally the absence or high price of strong draught animals proved to be an obstacle." The question, therefore, may be asked whether introducing the plough in the West lndies was really such a good idea, given the adverse natural circumstances. In addition, many plantations followed a practice called cane-holing, which could not be applied by using a plough only. Here the slaves still had to use the hoe after ploughing, which restricted the amount of labour saved with the plough. Even in the Dutch East Indian colony of Java, where the plough had been used since time immemorial, the introduction of the system of cane planting developed by the Cuban agronomist Reynoso, caused a switch from plough to hoe in the sugar districts around 1870 (Sollewijn Gelpke 1885: 107). These adverse circumstances notwithstanding, in several Caribbean islands the planters, after 1770 hard pressed for cost-cutting innovations, did experiment with the plough but found it wanting. After several decades most came back to the hoe (Watts 1987:429-32). Yet after emancipation, many planters once again reverted to ploughing, presumably because the need for labour-saving devices by now had become of paramount importance (Craton, Walvin and Wright 1976:333; Green 1976:205-6; Parry and Sherlock 1971:198). The story of the plough suggests that at least some planters were interested in cutting costs, that they were aware of the advantages and disadvantages of certain innovations, and that they were prepared to experiment with 'novel' practices even in the face of serious obstacles. It might be interesting to investigate the use of the plough after its post-emancipation reintroduction. Given the complicated nature of any innovative process (of which the varying fortunes of the plough in the West Indies are only one example) it might be worthwhile to direct research towards similar 'oversights'.

PAGE 100

14 PETER BOOMGAARD & GERT J. OOSTINDIE Caribbean sugar plantations continued to be performed by field labourers throughout the nineteenth century. It seems that the nature of this fieldwork did not change much in the period from the seventeenth-century establishment of the Barbados model, to borrow Watts' (1987) phrase, until the twentieth-century mechanization of cane-c~ttin~.~~ If so, it would be difficult to maintain that slavery had to be abolished in the nineteenth century because of any significant change in the labour demand of the Caribbean plantation. At th~s stage of our research, our knowledge of the extent to which job demands on Caribbean plantations actually changed as a consequence of innovation is limited. Yet precisely this aspect should be explored before we can conclude more confidently whether or not slaves were able to perform these tasks, whether indentured labourers or freedmen were actually perforni~tig significantly different work routines, and so forth. Incidentally, a focus on the changing nature of labour demands and qualifications in the Caribbean sugar industry may indirectly also enhance our understanding of the social history of Caribbean slavery. If innovation indeed changed the nature of plantation work, then one would expect those affected to have responded to these changes. If only job qualifications in the higher echelons of the slave hierarchy changed, it would not be surprising to find a kind of artisanal protest of formerly privileged slaves comparable with the Luddism of early industrial Europe. Some authors have indeed given examples of slaves' protests against innovation. Green (1973:45 l) for instance cites the desperate comments of the Jamaican planter 1,ewis (18341, who in vain tried to economize on labour by introducing the plough: "the awkwardness, and still more obstinacy, of the few negroes, whose services were indispensable, was not to be overcome: they broke plough after plough, and ruined beast after beast, till the attempt was abandoned in despair". In a later publication, Green (1976:52-7) gives more evidence of slaves' sabotage of modern machinery. He attributes this to a firm resistance among the slaves against changes in "either the tools or techniques employed in West Indian agriculture". If we were to find more general evidence of such an attitude, we would be obliged to admit to more than a kernel of truth in the argument that the nature of slavery was incompatible with innovation. The argument would have to be given an elegant twist though: it was not the slaves' inability through lack of education rather than by nature but their conscious resistance which impeded adequate innovation. This argument then would even serve to attribute diminishing plantation profitability at least partly to slave resistance to change.24

PAGE 127

J.R WAR D TH E AMELIORATIO N O F BRITIS H WES T INDIA N SLAVERY 1750-1834 : TECHNICA L CHANG E AN D TH E PLOUG H INTRODUCTIO N Ove r th e las t fort y year s th e stud y o f Britis h Wes t India n suga r estate s durin g th e perio d o f slaver y ha s show n tha t the y achieve d significan t technica l change Thi s wor k qualifie s olde r views bes t expresse d b y L.J Ragatz accordin g t o whic h planters constraine d b y absente e ownershi p an d th e inefficiencie s o f slav e labour prove d almos t incapabl e o f combattin g th e suga r monoculture' s tendenc y toward s soi l exhaustion o r o f respondin g effectivel y t o th e man y externa l pressure s whic h bega n t o wor k agains t the m i n th e late r eighteent h centur y (Ragat z 1928) Thus th e argumen t ran whe n slaver y cam e t o a n en d i n 1834 mos t Britis h Wes t India n plantation s ha d bee n reduce d t o virtua l bankrupty excep t perhap s i n a fe w o f th e mos t recentl y settle d territorie s wher e th e can e lan d wa s stil l exceptionall y fertile I t no w seem s tha t thi s ver y pessimisti c interpretatio n wa s coloure d rathe r to o muc h b y th e publi c controversie s o f th e earl y nineteent h century originall y th e mai n sourc e o f informatio n availabl e t o historians I n contemporar y debat e o n Wes t India n issue s th e tw o mai n contendin g partie s bot h gav e a blea k impressio n o f th e suga r estates fortunes Proprietor s emphasise d thei r commercia l distress an d th e nee d fo r commercia l privilege ; thei r critics arguin g fo r slav e emancipation wer e please d t o accep t evidenc e tha t slaver y wa s inefficin t an d unprofitabl e a s wel l a s inhumane Sinc e Ragatz attentio n ha s shifte d mor e t o th e privately-kep t record s o f suga r estates a s the y hav e becom e availabl e fo r researc h (Bennet t 1958 ; Crato n & Walvi n 1970 ; Pare s 1950 ; Sherida n 1974) Th e genera l drif t o f thi s wor k ha s bee n t o detec t a measur e o f technica l adaptatio n durin g th e perio d o f slavery achieve d throug h modifie d processin g equipment ne w can e

PAGE 128

4 2 J.R WAR D varieties an d greate r attentio n t o manuring livestock an d fodde r supplies S o fo r Britis h Wes t India n suga r estates a t least th e "classic indictmen t o f slav e labou r a s associate d wit h onl y th e mos t rudimentar y technique s an d wit h a tradition-boun d maste r class ca n n o longe r b e sustained Bu t ho w fa r shoul d th e revisionis t lin e o f argumen t b e pressed ? Considerabl e difference s o f emphasi s an d scop e fo r debat e remai n withi n th e literature Thu s Pares' s investigatio n o f th e Pinne y family' s Nevi s property th e firs t Britis h Wes t India n histor y t o mak e thoroug h us e o f estat e papers showe d som e planter s wit h a concer n fo r improvemen t an d th e detail s o f mana gement Yet h e argued absenteeis m an d competitio n fro m mor e recentl y develope d colonie s ha d ruine d Nevi s befor e th e slave s wer e free d (Pare s 1950 : chs 6 7 12) O n th e othe r hand th e Barbado s estate s o f th e Societ y fo r th e Propagatio n o f th e Gospel studie d b y Bennett enjoye d a strikin g economi e regeneratio n i n th e earl y nineteent h century eve n unde r absente e ownership wit h risin g profitabilit y an d suga r consignments Als o a marke d improvemen t i n th e slaves materia l conditio n cam e throug h "amelioratiqn policies aime d a t establishin g a self-reproducin g labou r force Thes e policie s ha d bee n ncourage d sinc e th e 1760 s b y growin g difficultie s i n acquirin g ne w slave s fro m Africa an d b y th e growt h o f th e metropolita n antislaver y movemen t (Bennet t 1958 : chs 9-12) Crato n an d Walvi n hav e identifie d majo r innovation s undertake n betwee n th e 1790 s an d th e 1820 s a t th e Worth y Par k estat e i n Jamaica The y imply however tha t th e degre e o f economi e resilienc e enjoye d b y thi s property wa s exceptional perhap s helpe d b y th e supplementar y financia l resource s t o whic h it s owne r ha d acces s (Crato n & Walvi n 1970:168-82 187-8) Also Craton' s analysi s o f Worth y Park' s slav e populatio n suggest s tha t increase d productivit y wa s achieve d a t th e cos t o f sever e socia l an d demographi c stres s (Crato n 1978 : Par t I) Watt' s recen t stud y show s tha t Britis h Wes t India n planter s mad e som e adjustments mainl y i n respons e t o environmenta l changes bu t conclude s tha t thei r genera l agricultura l performanc e wa s mediocre judge d b y th e standard s o f th e mothe r countr y (Watt s 1987 : ch 9) Fro m m y ow n work base d mainl y o n estat e paper s accumulate d b y absente e proprietor s i n Grea t Britai n fro m th e "old Britis h Wes t India n colonie s (Barbados th e Leewar d Islands an d Jamaica) I believ e tha t th e slave base d plantatio n econom y showe d a substantia l capacit y fo r innovatio n (War d 1988) Th e basi c patter n o f amelioratio n describe d b y Bennet t fo r th e Codringto n plantation s appears i f onl y i n a n attenuate d form o n man y othe r properties Improve d maintenanc e standard s an d reduce d wor k load s brough t a marke d fal l i n slav e mortality s o tha t colonie s whic h

PAGE 129

CHANGIN G SUGA R TECHNOLOG Y AN D TH E LABOU R NEXU S 4 3 ha d depende d o n regula r deliverie s fro m Afric a t o maintai n thei r popu lation s unti l lat e i n th e eighteent h centur y ha d achieved o r wer e ap proaching demographi c self-sufficienc y b y th e 1820s I woul d g o furthe r i n emphasisin g th e busines s advantage s fro m thi s shif t i n policy Bennet t sa w th e balanc e shee t effect s o f amelioratio n a s essentiall y neutral : th e planter' s extr a spendin g o n food clothing an d medica l car e fo r hi s slave s wa s mor e o r les s offse t b y thei r reduce d depreciatio n (Bennet t 1958 : 138 40) I t ca n howeve r b e argue d tha t greate r benefit s accrue d t o th e estat e tha n thi s compariso n implies Nineteenth-centur y slave s wer e no t onl y bette r abl e t o reproduc e themselve s tha n thei r eighteenth-centur y predecessors bu t also fro m th e employer' s poin t o f view mor e useful : likel y t o b e creol e rathe r tha n Africa n (an d thu s mor e experience d i n estat e work) mor e tractable an d les s likel y t o b e incapacitate d b y malnutritio n o r punishment Thes e effect s ma y b e discerne d in fo r example th e reduce d incidenc e o f theft th e reduce d employmen t o f whit e supervisor s (on e o f th e larges t plantatio n expenses) an d th e increasin g averag e statur e o f Jamaican-bor n slave s (whic h presumabl y brough t som e correspondin g additio n t o thei r physica l strength) Takin g Jamaic a a s th e standard I estimat e th e aggregat e economi e result s o f amelioratio n an d it s associate d agricultura l reform s o n suga r estate s i n th e 'old Britis h Wes t Indie s a s a n increas e i n outpu t pe r slav e o f abou t 3 5 pe r cen t betwee n 175 0 an d 1834 o r abou t 0. 4 pe r cen t pe r year a respectabl e performanc e b y contemporar y standard s (War d 1988 : 190-208 261-2) Nevertheless whil e suga r plantin g i n th e 'old Britis h Wes t Indie s clearl y mad e importan t advance s betwee n 175 0 an d 1834 i t migh t b e argue d tha t t o sho w thi s i s t o dea l wit h onl y par t o f th e origina l critiqu e agains t slaver y a s a n economi e system tha t th e master s o f slave s wer e b y natur e negligen t an d benighted Anothe r allegation tha t th e slave s themselve s wer e inferio r t o fre e peopl e i n thei r qualit y a s worker s migh t stil l hav e weight i f i t ca n b e show n tha t Wes t India n progres s wa s restricte d t o innovation s whic h di d no t requir e extr a skil l o r commitmen t fro m th e labou r force Fo r example durin g ou r period a s a resul t o f th e Britis h Industria l Revolution planter s ha d th e benefi t o f improve d grindin g milis Th e tas k o f th e slave s wh o fe d i n can e betwee n th e roller s remaine d essentiall y unchanged bu t becaus e th e mili s wer e brace d mor e tightly a reasonabl e proportio n o f juic e coul d b e extracte d i n jus t on e o r tw o passes instea d o f th e fiv e o r si x passe s require d wit h olde r devices Thu s th e amoun t o f juic e delivere d pe r worke r an d pe r hou r greatl y increased Similarly ne w can e varietie s arrive d o n th e islands an d man y planter s adopte d them togethe r wit h th e increase d cultivatio n o f fodde r crops t o establis h i n som e case s a 'virtuou s circle o f improve d livestock extr a manure enhance d

PAGE 130

4 4 J.R WAR D soi l fertility an d bette r harvests o f th e kin d whic h ha d alread y transforme d grai n farmin g i n Grea t Britai n (War d 1988 : ch 4). 1 Onc e again technica l chang e nee d mak e littl e differenc e t o particula r task s weeding can e cutting etc Th e productivit y o f th e fiel d gang s coul d b e enhance d simpl y b y changin g th e proportion s int o whic h thei r wor k wa s divide d betwee n th e cultivatio n o f suga r can e an d complementar y activities T o thi s exten t labour' s rol e wa s merel y passive Blac k slave s eithe r i n fact o r i n th e perceptio n o f thei r master s ma y hav e bee n clumsy obstructive an d difficul t t o educat e i n ne w skills However suc h characteristic s nee d not an d clearl y di d not preven t certai n innovation s (Boomgaar d & Oostindi e 1989 : 10-2) Bu t wha t i f ther e wa s als o a t leas t a potentia l fo r raisin g efficienc y b y makin g task s mor e sophisticated perhap s throug h usin g ne w item s o f equipmen t suc h a s stea m engine s whic h migh t b e vulnerabl e t o sabotage an d requir e highe r level s o f skil l fro m th e worker s responsibl e fo r thei r operatio n an d maintenance ? I t i s th e compatibilit y o f slaver y wit h th e stea m engin e an d th e vacu m pa n tha t ha s provide d th e focu s fo r debat e abo t th e relationshi p betwee n technica l chang e an d labou r regime s elsewher e i n th e nineteenth-centur y Caribbea n (Scot t 1984) Ye t thi s i s no t a ver y usefu l them e fo r th e pre-emancipatio n Britis h Wes t Indies I n fac t th e component s o f 'modern suga r processin g mad e ver y littl e headwa y i n th e Britis h suga r colonie s be f or e 1834 bu t th e technologie s o f stea m powe r an d vacu m boilin g wer e a s ye t s o imperfectl y develope d tha t thei r limite d diffusio n canno t b e plausibl y attribute d t o slavery Therefor e th e res t o f m y pape r wil l concentrat e o n th e ploug h a s a substitut e fo r th e ho e i n cultivation I a m consciou s tha t thi s i s a narro w an d no w rathe r venerabl e issue bu t i t seem s nevertheles s t o b e wort h pursuing Ploughin g entaile d ne w skill s fo r field workers Also eve n thoug h i t wa s a mature technology perhap s offerin g significan t cos t savin g ove r traditiona l han d methods man y contemporar y observer s an d late r histo rian s hav e allege d tha t planter s wer e slo w t o introduc it a t leas t partl y becaus e o f th e constraint s fro m slav e labour I argu e tha t th e exten t t o whic h th e ploug h wa s use d i n Britis h Wes t India n suga r estate s befor e emancipatio n ha s probabl y bee n underestimated a t leas t fo r Jamaic a (whic h ha d hal f th e Britis h Caribbea n slav e population) Physica l geograph y wa s muc h mor e importan t tha n th e institutio n o f slaver y a s a n obstacl e t o ploughing However th e economic s o f technica l chang e i n plantatio n agricultur e canno t b e defnitel y established fo r w e mus t conten d wit h difficul t problem s o f evidence Whil e i t i s clea r tha t slaver y wa s compatible wit h substantia l technica l advance s i n th e Britis h Wes t Indie s betwee n 175 0 an d 1834 th e exten t t o whic h th e huma n degradation s associate d

PAGE 131

CHANGIN G SUGA R TECHNOLOG Y AN D TH E LABOU R NEXU S 4 5 wit h thi s labou r syste m stoppe d progres s fro m bein g eve n greate r remain s uncertain TH E PLOUG H I N TH E 'OLD BRITIS H WES T INDIE S Ploughin g mad e mor e progres s o n Antigu a tha n anywher e els e i n th e Britis h Wes t Indies Th e firs t experiments undertake n o n thi s islan d i n th e mid eighteent h century see m t o hav e bee n abandone d b y th e 1780 s (War d 1988 : 73) Afte r 180 0 th e practic e revived A t th e Parha m estate th e colony' s secon d largest th e ploug h wa s applie d i n th e 1820 s t o som e 7 0 pe r cen t o f th e cultivate d area, 2 an d i t ha d als o becom e widel y use d o n neighbourin g propertie s (Porte r 1831 : 293-7 ; Ragat z 1928 : 66) However o n th e othe r Leewar d Island s an d o n Barbado s al l th e sign s ar e tha t ploughin g remaine d rar e durin g th e perio d o f slaver y (Dav y 1854 : 113-14 ; Bennet t 1958 : 103) Mor e abundan t informatio n survive s fro m Jamaica Almos t ever y on e o f th e doze n o r s o estate s i n th e colon y fo r whic h record s hav e bee n studie d experimente d wit h th e ploug h betwee n th e 1760 s an d th e 1780s The n th e practic e fei l temporaril y int o disrepute bu t wit h labou r i n shor t suppl y afte r th e closur e o f th e slav e trad e i n 1808 mos t planter s ha d resume d ploughin g b y th e earl y 1830 s (War d 1988 : 82-3). 3 Wha t wa s th e subsequen t cours e o f innovation ? Som e historian s sugges t tha t emancipatio n greatl y intensifie d planters concer n fo r fiel d mecha nisation implyin g als o tha t i t ha d bee n hel d bac k b y slaver y (Hal l 1959 : 48 ; Gree n 1976 : 205-6 ; Boomgaar d & Oostindi e 1989 : 7-8) Ye t whil e th e ploug h ma y hav e com e int o wide r us e afte r 1834 th e availabl e evidenc e doe s no t mak e clea r t o wha t extent i f a t all it s rat e o f diffusio n accelerated Account s fro m Antigu a durin g th e firs t year s o f freedo m wer e rathe r equivoca l abou t trend s i n curren t practice Accordin g t o on e report 'grea t improvement s [includin g ploughing ] hav e lon g ag o bee n demonstrate d t o b e necessar y an d practicable' 'Th e ploug h ha s lon g bee n use d i n th e island... Nevertheless '...o n man y estate s it s judiciou s us e i s stil l a novelty' an d 'ploughin g wa s gainin g ground a s a consequenc e o f th e reductio n i n labou r suppl y sinc e th e endin g o f slavery' (Sturg e & Harve y 1968 : 51 57 73) Amon g eigh t respondent s t o a n officia l inquiry onl y thre e state d tha t th e ploug h ha d becom e mor e common an d tw o o f thes e di d s o i n guarde d terms : I hav e understood an d o n on e occasio n I saw mor e plough s a t wor k tha n wer e formerl y used. 'Th e increase d us e o f th e ploug h ha s i n som e smal l degre e supplie d th e plac e o f huma n labour.... Thre e other s wer e categori e tha t ploughin g ha d no t bee n extende d {British Parliamentary Papers 1836 : 274)

PAGE 132

4 6 J.R WAR D Ther e ar e simila r difficultie s wit h th e evidenc e fro m Jamaica Th e visitin g philanthropist s Sturg e an d Harve y identifie d ploughin g a s a n apparent novelt y a t leas t th e wor k wa s ofte n bein g manage d b y whit e immigrant s (Sturg e an d Harve y 1968 : 173 216 230) Crato n argue s tha t th e practic e di d no t becom e a t al l commo n a t Worth y Par k befor e th e 1830 s (Crato n 1978 : 226) Bu t som e planters testifyin g t o th e publi c inquirie s o f th e 1840s denie d tha t fre e labou r ha d brough t an y decisiv e chang e t o th e rat e o f innovation Accordin g t o a witnes s fro m St Thomas-in-the-Val e parish 'th e us e o f th e ploug h wa s extendin g itsel f ver y muc h durin g th e perio d o f slavery an d i t i s no w almos t entirel y use d fo r openin g th e land' Th e ploug h ha d 'no t ver y muc h increase d sinc e th e en d o f slaver y -w e ha d carrie d i t t o a grea t exten t before. A St Thomas-in-the-Eas t planter whil e reportin g tha t th e ploug h 'i s no w extendin g ver y much' sai d tha t h e himsel f ha d use d i t fo r thirt y years O n th e Delv e estate Westmoreland th e ploug h ha d bee n use d sinc e 181 6 (British Parliamentary Papers 1842 : Q Q 4788 5050 5053 ; British Parliamentary Papers 1847-8 : 167) Thes e wer e o f cours e ex par te statements b y me n anxiou s t o sho w tha t althoug h rea l attempt s ha d bee n mad e a t improvement th e suga r estate s stil l require d metropolita n suppor t throug h immigratio n scheme s an d protectiv e duties Bu t Sturg e an d Harvey enthusiast s fo r fre e labour als o ha d a cas e t o argue an d th e planters assertion s abou t th e progres s o f ploughin g befor e emancipatio n ar e a t leas t partl y confirme d b y estat e records Establishin g th e exten t t o whic h planter s adopte d th e ploug h i s har d enough Whe n w e com e t o conside r why i t wa s o r wa s no t used and mor e particularly ho w th e choic e o f techniqu e wa s affecte d b y th e institutio n o f slavery ou r difficultie s ar e aggravated A s i s wel l known contemporar y remark s o n th e subjec t notice d variou s problems includin g th e intractabilit y o f th e wor k force bu t als o physica l constraint s stif f soils hill y terrain th e nee d t o maintai n drainag e ditche s an d minimis e soi l erosion an d th e obstacle s t o maintainin g livestoc k i n th e Wes t India n climate Th e importanc e o f physica l influence s i s suggeste d b y th e obviou s difference s i n practic e amon g slav e colonies fo r exampl e betwee n Antigua wit h it s fairl y leve l can e pieces wher e ploughin g ha d becom e quit e commo n b y 183 4 (eve n i f i t i s no t clea r exactl y ho w common) an d th e mor e mountainou s territorie s suc h a s Nevis Montserrat o r th e Windwar d Island s wher e th e ploug h remaine d almos t unknow n (British Parliamentary Papers 1842 : Q 2729 ; Gree n 1973 : 449-51 ; Watt s 1987 : 430-1 ; War d 1988 : 60-83) Bu t wha t wa s th e relativ e importanc e o f geograph y an d th e labou r regim e i n determinin g whethe r o r no t th e ploug h wa s used ? T o wha t exten t migh t physica l problem s hav e bee n cope d wit h mor e successfull y i f th e estate s ha d bee n provide d wit h a wor k forc e fre e o f th e demoralisatio n

PAGE 133

CHANGIN G SUGA R TECHNOLOG Y AN D TH E LABOU R NEXU S 4 7 an d inflexibilitie s o f slavery ? I t ha s bee n suggested fo r example tha t masters lo w expectation s o f thei r labourers whethe r derive d fro m racia l prejudic e o r dail y experienc e o f slav e sabotag e an d recalcitrance ha d establishe d th e convictio n tha t th e elemen t o f skil l i n plantatio n routin e shoul d b e kep t t o a n absolut e minimum Som e o f th e evidenc e tha t ha s bee n offere d o n thi s poin t ma y no t b e entirel y authentic Thu s th e repor t tha t slave s wer e no t traine d a s ploughme n becaus e thei r master s considere d the m t o b e incapabl e o f seein g straigh t enough cam e fro m a stipendiar y magistrate recentl y arrive d o n Jamaic a i n 1835 wit h n o first-han d knowledg e o f slaver y (Bel l & Morrel l 1928 : 397) Nevertheless statement s wer e mad e b y experience d planter s whic h emphasis e a labou r problem i n term s tha t perhap s impl y assumption s o f racia l incapacity an d no t jus t th e usua l difficultie s t o b e expecte d whe n worker s wer e learnin g a ne w task I n th e 1770 s a Jamaica n mentioned amon g othe r obstacle s t o ploughing 'th e wan t o f car e an d dexterit y i n th e negroes' althoug h h e stil l intende d t o persever e wit h it. 4 Hal f a centur y late r Thoma s Roughley als o o f Jamaica wrot e i n simila r term s abou t th e plough' s unsuitability : '...th e peopl e i n tha t countr y ignorant cattl e an d negroe s har d t o b e traine d fo r it.... (Roughle y 1823 : 269-72) However observation s o f thi s kin d d o no t alway s see m credibl e o r representative I t wa s a n Antigua n wh o declare d i n 178 8 tha t 'nothin g ha s ye t bee n foun d s o completel y suite d t o th e Dispositio n o f th e Slaves a s th e han d ho e {British Parliamentary Papers 1789 : Par t III Antigua No 42) Nevertheless th e ploug h woul d sprea d mor e rapidl y i n thi s colon y tha n anywher e els e i n th e Britis h Wes t Indies Mathe w Lewis' s accoun t o f experiment s o n hi s Jamaica n estat e i n 1816-1 7 i s celebrated : '...th e awkwardness an d stil l mor e th e obstinacy o f th e fe w negroes whos e service s wer e indispensable wa s no t t o b e overcome ; the y brok e ploug h afte r plough an d ruine d beas t afte r beast til l th e attemp t wa s abandone d i n despair. Ye t hi s qualifyin g sentenc e shoul d no t b e overlooked : 'Howeve r i t [th e attemp t a t ploughing ] wa s mad e withou t th e mos t essentia l ingredin t fo r success th e superintendenc e o f a n Englis h ploughman ; an d suc h o f th e plough s a s wer e o f cast-iro n coul d no t b e repaire d whe n onc e broken an d therefor e ough t no t t o hav e bee n adopted ; bu t I a m tol d tha t i n severa l othe r part s o f th e islan d th e ploug h ha s bee n introduced an d completel y successful. (Lewi s 1929 : 272). 5 Som e planter s asserte d roundl y tha t slave s wer e capable Accordin g t o anothe r witnes s a t th e 178 8 inquiry o n Jamaic a 'th e Negroe s lear n th e Us e o f th e Ploug h ver y readily. (British Parliamentary Papers 1789 : Par t III Jamaica No 9) Bu t mos t frequentl y th e slaves characteristic s a s worker s ar e ignored Sometime s i t i s implie d mor e o r les s clearl y tha t physica l consideration s

PAGE 134

4 8 J.R WAR D wer e decisive 'Althoug h I advis e yo u t o giv e u p ploughing I allo w i t ma y b e prope r upo n som e estates bu t no t upo n yours.' 6 Th e ploug h ha d bee n give n u p b y 179 5 a t Ne w Foun d River Jamaic a 'becaus e o f th e injur y don e t o th e stoc k fro m th e hillines s o f th e lan d an d th e littl e advantag e gaine d i n savin g o f labour.' 7 Th e failur e o f ploughin g a t Blu e Mountain Jamaica wa s blame d o n th e nee d t o maintai n drainag e trenches obstructio n fro m th e can e tras h whic h la y abou t th e fields an d th e over-exposur e o f th e soi l t o th e sun '... I ca n assur e yo u tha t i t i s no t fo r wan t o f inclinatio n i n man y eminen t planter s i n th e Islan d tha t th e Ploug h ha s no t bee n universall y adopte d whereve r th e lan d woul d admi t o f it... Th e pleasin g ide a o f easin g th e sever e an d fatiguin g manua l labou r o f th e negroe s b y th e us e o f cattl e ha s induce d number s t o tr y th e ploug h & eve n t o persever e i n th e us e o f i t fo r years.' 8 Accordin g t o Willia m Taylor on e o f th e ver y fe w humanitaria n critic s o f Jamaica n slaver y wit h persona l experienc e a s a n estat e manager althoug h h e ha d mad e considerabl e us e o f th e plough i t wa s impracticabl e i n som e mountai n situations H e di d not however believ e tha t ploughin g ha d damagin g effect s o n th e soil : '... I thin k the y woul d us e th e ploug h whereve r the y could I hav e hear d overseer s generall y expres s a grea t desir e fo r it. (British Parliamentary Papers 1831-2 Q Q 430-2) Sometime s n o ground s a t al l ar e give n fo r th e polic y pursued A t Mesopotami a an d Island Jamaica th e disappearanc e o f th e occupatio n 'ploughman fro m th e slav e listing s durin g th e late r 1790 s i s lef t unex plained. 9 Th e evaluatio n o f decision s concernin g th e choic e betwee n alternativ e technique s i s a commo n enoug h historica l problem I n suc h case s th e procedur e ofte n followe d i s t o attemp t a reconstructio n o f th e economi e cost s an d benefit s entailed thu s showing i t i s hoped ho w closel y th e cours e eventuall y take n corresponde d t o busines s logic An y wid e departur e fro m 'economi e rationality ma y indicat e defectiv e entrepreneurship per hap s includin g prejudice s abou t th e natur e o f th e labou r force However thes e exercise s hav e ofte n bee n inconclusive eve n whe n conducte d wit h th e abundan t dat a generate d b y moder n industria l economie s (Colema n & Macleo d 1986 : 598-9) The y ar e muc h les s likel y t o carr y convictio n whe n applie d t o th e issu e o f th e plough o n th e basi s o f Caribbea n slavery' s relativel y spars e documentation First t o repea t a poin t whic h ha s alread y bee n laboured i t i s unclea r wha t choice s wer e i n fac t made Perhap s ou r knowledg e coul d b e extende d b y th e systemati c us e o f probat e inventorie s t o produc e a 'diffusio n curve' o f th e kin d use d b y analyst s o f mor e recen t technica l change indicatin g ho w th e proportio n o f Britis h Wes t India n estate s equippe d wit h plough s varie d ove r time. 1 0 Bu t eve n wit h fulle r informatio n abou t th e timin g o f

PAGE 135

CHANGIN G SUGA R TECHNOLOG Y AN D TH E LABOU R NEXU S 4 9 innovation wha t coul d b e sai d abou t benefit s an d costs ? On e Jamaica n plante r allege d i n 181 1 tha t b y ploughin g h e ha d reduce d expense s i n lan d preparatio n fro m £1 0 t o abou t £ 2 pe r acre implyin g tha t th e failur e o f s o man y other s t o follo w hi s exampl e wa s economicall y 'irrational (Watt s 1987 : 430) Ye t whe n wor k schedule s wer e calculate d o n Jamaic a durin g 'apprenticeship i n th e mid-1830s th e cultivatio n o f on e acr e o f can e land fro m plantin g unti l th e tim e whe n it s firs t ero p becam e read y fo r cutting wa s reckone d t o tak e abou t 10 0 apprentice-day s labou r i f th e ploug h wa s used an d 12 0 days labou r otherwis e {British Parliamentary Papers 1837 8 : 42-82). Estat e account s ma y occasionall y indicat e ho w muc h a plante r ha d pai d fo r a plough bu t no t it s maintenanc e requirement s o r rat e o f depreciation. 1 2 Ploughin g wa s usuall y introduce d b y identure d whit e servants o f te n importe d speciall y fo r th e purpose me n wh o fro m anecdota l evidenc e soo n becam e martyr s t o th e Wes t India n climate fevers an d rum I n fac t w e hav e ver y littl e ide a ho w muc h whit e instructor s cos t thei r employers Th e mortalit y o f immigran t European s wa s no t systematicall y recorded bu t a t leas t som e whit e ploughme n coul d surviv e t o b e serviceabl e i n othe r occupations, 1 3 an d whe n slav e ploughme n appea r i n th e estat e inventories th e lengt h o f tim e tha t ha s bee n require d fo r thei r trainin g i s no t specified. 1 4 Ploughin g mad e extr a demand s o n livestock an d a ploughe d fiel d wa s mor e subjec t t o erosio n tha n on e lef t covere d b y a lattic e o f unbroke n groun d unde r th e syste m o f individually-du g can e holes Al l othe r thing s bein g equal n o procedur e coul d yiel d heavie r crop s tha n ho e cultivatio n an d 'treadin g out th e manur e carryin g th e availabl e supplie s i n basket s t o b e place d roun d th e plants Bu t t o th e exten t tha t livestoc k wa s improve d b y greate r succe s wit h fodde r crop s an d durin g th e late r decade s o f slaver y ther e wa s notabl e progres s o n thi s poin t i n Jamaica Barbados, an d Antigu a th e cost s o f anima l tractio n an d manur e supplie s relativ e t o han d labou r wer e reduced.Th e economic s o f ploughin g canno t b e disentangle d fro m th e genera l proces s o f agricultura l innovatio n {British Parliamentary Papers 1836 : 269 ; War d 1988 : 61-79) Th e choic e betwee n ploug h an d ho e wa s als o boun d u p wit h wide r issue s o f slav e management I t ha s bee n suggeste d tha t planter s wer e reluctan t t o sav e labou r i n soi l preparation becaus e o n suga r estate s a pronounce d maximu m i n wor k requirement s cam e a t th e suga r harvest S o increase d efficienc y i n executin g task s a t othe r time s o f th e yea r woul d b e o f littl e value and b y aggravatin g seasona l underemployment perhap s als o sociall y disruptive Thi s theor y i s unconvincing Al l th e evidenc e fro m th e perio d o f slaver y show s tha t diggin g can e hole s wa s a mos t stressfu l phas e i n th e agricultura l cycle on e tha t planter s promotin g amelioratio n wer e anxiou s t o mitigate. 1 5

PAGE 136

5 0 J.R WAR D Anothe r an d mor e reasonabl e ide a i s tha t master s ha d doubt s abou t ploughin g because althoug h the y recognize d slave s a s competen t fo r th e task skille d men workin g outsid e th e mai n field gangs wer e see n a s a threa t t o disciplin e (Crato n 1978 : 226) I t i s certainl y tru e tha t a t leas t b y th e mid-eighteent h centur y ever y Britis h Wes t India n suga r estat e ha d it s complemen t o f slav e artisan s boilers distillers carpenters coopers etc bu t thes e post s wer e obviousl y essentia l fo r suga r production I n field cultivatio n th e plante r ha d a rea l choic e betwee n mor e an d les s sophisticate d methods Also craftsme n an d suga r factor y worker s coul d b e employe d withi n a confine d spac e unde r clos e supervision t o limi t sabotag e an d ca'canny. 1 6 Fo r ploughmen rangin g ove r distan t can e piece s wit h a variet y o f physica l conditions supervisio n an d th e monitorin g o f performanc e wer e mor e difficult O n Chesapeak e tobacc o estates Kulikof f argue s (i t i s no t clea r o n wha t evidence) master s los t som e authorit y whe n the y introduce d plough s an d carts H e state s tha t thi s equipmen t wa s use d b y it s slav e operator s t o establis h contro l ove r th e pac e o f work Ne vertheless th e proble m seem s t o hav e bee n manageabl e i n th e Nort h America n context : a t leas t th e ploug h wa s use d widel y here Bu t t o wha t exten t wa s thi s achieve d becaus e th e region' s slave s relativel y 'acculturated b y Caribbea n standards an d employe d i n smalle r unit s -wer e mor e easil y discipline d (Kulikof f 1986 : 406 408 412)? 1 7 Th e significanc e o f th e slaves skill s fo r thei r masters authorit y ha s als o bee n raise d a s a n issu e b y wor k o n Britis h Wes t India n slav e revolt s an d conspiracies I n th e earl y stag e o f settlemen t recentl y importe d African s wer e th e mos t conspicuou s a s rebels The n a s tim e passe d th e leadershi p o f popula r uprisin g cam e t o b e take n b y Creole s wit h specia l status a s drivers craftsmen an d domestics Th e tendenc y alarme d man y whit e colonists wh o complaine d tha t thei r trus t ha d bee n betraye d (Gaspa r 1978 ; Crato n 1982) S o ho w wa s th e phenomeno n see n a s a proble m o f estat e management ? Wer e planter s discourage d fro m employin g thei r slave s i n skille d occupations ? Suc h a restrictiv e cours e wa s officiall y recommende d afte r th e Antigua n conspirac y scar e o f 173 6 (Gaspa r 1978 : 312) bu t ther e i s n o evidenc e o f i t bein g followed O n suga r estate s i n Barbados th e Leewards an d Jamaica a stead y increas e occurre d i n th e proportio n o f skille d slaves fro m abou t 2 5 pe r cen t o f adul t male s i n th e mid-eighteent h centur y t o abou t 4 0 pe r cen t o n th e ev e o f emancipatio n (War d 1988 : 228) Wer e planter s perhap s force d reluctantl y alon g thi s pat h b y th e nee d t o rais e efficienc y an d cu t costs ye t slowe d dow n a t ever y ste p b y anxietie s abou t indiscipline ? Ther e i s n o doub t tha t th e tendenc y ha d economi e causes : mor e craftsme n wer e

PAGE 137

CHANGIN G SUGA R TECHNOLOG Y AN D TH E LABOU R NEXU S 5 1 require d a s th e volum e o f suga r outpu t pe r worke r increase d an d a s equipmen t becam e mor e elaborate ; an d traine d slave s wer e muc h cheape r t o emplo y a s specialist s tha n hire d whites However i t seem s unlikel y tha t planter s wer e seriousl y inhibite d b y securit y considerations First skill s wer e no t see n a s likel y i n themselve s t o b e a sourc e o f dange r o r insubordination Eve n i f the y gav e thei r holder s prid e an d self-confidence the y als o brough t privileges howeve r modest whic h migh t b e conferre d o r withhel d a s instrument s o f control O n earl y nineteenth-centur y Barbado s i t wa s reporte d tha t instructio n o f slav e childre n i n skille d trade s 'i s usuall y don e t o gratif y th e wel l conducte d Parent s an d rewar d the m fo r thei r goo d conduct.... (Taylo r 1976-7 : 71 ) Thoma s Thistlewood' s Jamaica n diaries, 1 8 fro m a n earlie r an d darke r age giv e a mor e bruta l dimensio n t o th e managemen t process The y sho w ho w amon g th e slave s o n Egyp t suga r estate wher e h e serve d a s oversee r betwee n 175 4 an d 1767 me n wit h specia l skill s fo r exampl e carpenter s o r suga r boiler s wer e muc h les s likel y t o suffe r punishment and t o judg e b y th e relativ e infrequenc y wit h whic h the y ra n away muc h mor e reconcile d t o plantatio n life Th e craftsme n wer e als o regularl y employe d t o guar d th e growin g crop s agains t thef t an d t o hun t dow n runaway s (War d 1979 ; War d 1988 : 27-9) Equall y detaile d informatio n i s no t availabl e fo r othe r properties bu t estat e populatio n listing s impl y a simila r patter n o f behaviour Whe n master s commente d o n thei r slaves 'disposition' derogater y epithet s fo r exampl e 'runaway' 'skulker' o r 'thie f wer e applie d disproportionatel y t o field labourers Mos t compliment s wen t t o me n wit h specia l responsibilitie s o r skills. 1 9 Thi s patter n persiste d u p t o th e tim e o f emancipation despit e th e conspicuou s par t take n i n rebellio n b y member s o f th e slav e elite I n th e planter' s vie w th e primar y cause s o f unres t wer e materia l deprivatio n and increasingly radica l idea s fro m overseas no t th e presumption s o f skille d workers eve n i f som e o f the m di d appea r a s leader s whe n revol t brok e out (W e nee d no t conside r her e whethe r thes e perception s wer e accurat e o r logical merel y tha t the y provide d th e basi s fo r policy. ) Th e bes t safeguard s o f goo d orde r seeme d t o b e reasonabl e treatment clos e supervisio n and abov e all th e curtailmen t o f th e anti-slaver y agitatio n i n Grea t Britain Th e onl y wa y b y whic h trainin g slave s coul d b e construe d a s a sourc e o f insecurit y cam e i n s o fa r a s th e proces s displace d whit e workers Thi s wa s clearl y th e concer n i n Antigu a i n th e 1730s bu t subsequentl y i t ha d littl e effect B y th e late r eighteent h centur y ther e wer e fe w whit e craftsme n lef t t o displac e o n Britis h Wes t India n suga r estates : th e white s wh o remaine d wer e almos t entirel y supervisors. 2 0 S o instructio n fo r slaves particularl y i n a quit e ne w tas k lik e ploughing mad e a ne t additio n t o th e proportio n o f skille d workers

PAGE 138

5 2 J.R WAR D CONCLUSIO N I conclude therefore tha t slaver y a s a n institutio n wa s no t a majo r obstacl e t o th e adoptio n o f th e ploug h i n th e Britis h Wes t Indie s betwee n 175 0 an d 1834 Physica l condition s wer e th e decisiv e influenc e o n th e rat e o f fiel d mechanisation Planter s a s a clas s ha d n o particula r fea r o f traine d slaves no r wer e the y restraine d b y stron g prejudice s tha t slave s wer e incapabl e o f acquirin g ne w skills Ploughin g di d no t see m likel y t o caus e majo r problem s o f seasona l underemployment Th e us e o f plough s wa s discourage d b y slaver y onl y i n s o fa r a s i t ha d th e effec t o f makin g han d labou r see m relativel y abundant Th e significanc e o f concern s fo r labou r savin g i s show n b y th e renewe d interes t take n b y planter s i n ploughin g a f te r th e closur e o f th e slav e trad e fro m Afric a i n 1808 a n interes t whic h wa s confirme d an d perhap s strengthene d b y emancipatio n i n th e 1830s However i t mus t b e stresse d tha t Britis h Wes t India n suga r plantin g betwee n 175 0 an d 183 4 wa s no t b y contemporar y standard s a 'chea p labour economy Durin g thi s perio d th e cos t o f acquirin g an d reproducin g a wor k forc e ros e mor e rapidl y her e tha n perhap s anywher e els e i n th e world Thi s tendenc y resulte d partl y fro m marke t force s i n th e transatlanti c slav e trade an d partl y fro m th e politica l constraint s impose d b y th e growin g metropolita n anti-slaver y movement A s a result b y th e tim e o f eman cipatio n th e materia l consumptio n level s reache d b y slave s i n th e Britis h Caribbea n roughl y matche d thos e o f manua l worker s i n industrialisin g Grea t Britai n (War d 1988 : 261-3 286-8) Unde r thes e condition s th e suga r estate s coul d b e maintaine d onl y b y makin g thei r labou r forc e mor e productive an d t o thi s challeng e man y planter s prove d capabl e o f de velopin g a n effectiv e response NOTE S 1 Watt s 1987 : 423-47 whil e recognizin g tha t som e adaptatio n di d occur take s a mor e pessimisti c vie w o f Britis h Wes t India n economi e trend s afte r 1720 I thin k tha t h e doe s no t giv e sufficien t weigh t t o th e planters capacit y fo r technica l innovation Hi s accoun t relie s to o muc h o n printe d sources an d i s no t supporte d b y quantitativ e measure s o f productivity 2 Tudwa y MSS Somerse t Recor d Office Taunton Bo x 14 Montl y Journal s o f Plantatio n Work s 1823-9 3 Fo r a n alternativ e recen t view tha t th e us e o f th e ploug h wa s declinin g i n earl y 19th centur y Jamaica se e Watt s 1987 : 431-2

PAGE 139

CHANGIN G SUGA R TECHNOLOG Y AN D TH E LABOU R NEXU S 5 3 4 Vassal l MSS Sheffiel d Cit y Libraries Sheffiel d Recor d Office M D 204 7 (1) Lette r Boo k o f Willia m Vassal l 1769-86 J Wedderbur n t o W Vassall 2 Aug 1777 5 Mos t attempt s t o introduc th e ploug h wer e mad e wit h whit e immigrants bu t i t wa s clearl y expecte d tha t thes e me n woul d trai n slav e successors : Vassal l MSS J Wedderbur n t o W Vassall 2 Aug 1777 6 Institut e o f Jamaica Kingston Jamaica M S 1069/3 J Ker r t o T Hall 2 4 Sept 1777 concernin g Irwi n estate Hanove r parish Jamaica 7 Vassal l MSS W Vassal l t o J Graham 4 Mar 1795 8 Fitzherber t MSS Derbyshir e Recor d Office Matlock WI/9 W Sutherlan d t o W.P Perrin 8 Feb 1801 Se e als o Edward s 1819 : ii 245 9 Clarendo n MSS Bodleia n Library Oxford De p b 36 listing s o f slave s o n Mesopotami a an d Islan d plantation s 1780-1802 10 See fo r example Grilliche s 1971 : 208 Kulikof f 1986 : 408 use s probat e inventorie s t o measur e th e increasin g ownershi p o f plough s an d cart s b y Nort h America n tobacc o planter s betwee n th e 1730 s an d 1770s Simila r source s ar e availabl e fo r som e o f th e Britis h Wes t Indies bu t i t i s doubtfu l whethe r the y provid e sufficien t detai l t o hel p wit h thi s probletn Man y inventorie s hel d amon g estat e archive s d o no t specif y individua l item s o f equipment Hal l 1959 : 96 present s statistic s fo r import s o f agricultura l machiner y i n th e 1840s Bu t officia l statement s o f colonia l trad e fo r ou r perio d d o no t i n genera l defin e categorie s closel y enoug h t o identif y deliverie s o f particula r implements A furthe r proble m i s tha t plantation s recorde d a s havin g plough s migh t us e the m o n varyin g proportion s o f thei r can e land Thu s i n Jul y 183 4 i t wa s hope d soo n t o completel y replac e can e holin g wit h ploughin g o n Hollan d estate St Elizabet h parish Jamaica A t th e tim e th e propert y hel d onl y on e ploug h 'an d i t answer s extremel y well' : Gladston e MSS Clwy d Recor d Office Hawarden C h 81 R Gladston e t o J Gladstone 2 8 Jul y 1834. 1 suspec t tha t th e impressio n o f increase d ploughin g afte r emancipatio n come s partl y fro m th e fulle r us e o f implement s tha t wer e alread y o n hand Bu t t o confir m thi s w e woul d nee d muc h fulle r account s o f cultivatio n schedule s tha n usuall y survive 11 Fo r alternativ e estimates se e Gree n 1973 : 458 12 Thu s th e 'Inventor y o f Plantatio n Utensils Stores & c o n Parha m Ne w Wor k Estat e ls t Jany 1824' fos 6 9 (Tudwa y MSS Bo x 53) list s 5 ploug h animals al l importe d sinc e 1820 an d 6 ploughs 4 o f the m broken Bu t thi s exceptionall y ful l archiv e seem s t o giv e n o furthe r informatio n abou t costs Correspondenc e ma y repor t tha t a ploug h ha s bee n broken i f th e oversee r want s a replacement : e.g Clarendo n MSS De p c 360 Bundi e 8 W Ridgar d t o J.F Barham 9 Oct 1828 Bu t i f th e matte r i s no t mentioned doe s thi s mea n tha t th e ploug h i s stil l intac t an d i n use tha t i t ha s bee n repaire d o n th e estate o r tha t i t ha s bee n give n u p altogether ? 13 Thu s whi e th e Vassal l MS S mention s th e deat h o f on e whit e ploughman an d th e interceptio n o f a secon d b y a pres s gang others includin g a 'clever usefu l man' appea r an d disappea r withou t explanation : Vassal l correspondence 1 7 Oct 1778 2 6 June 8 Dec

PAGE 140

5 4 J.R WAR D 1779 4 Oct 1780 3 Jan 1782 4 Nov 1783 However o n 2 Aug 177 7 Vassall' s Jamaica n attorne y di d regar d th e mortalit y o f whit e me n fro m feve r a s a n obstacl e t o ploughing 14 Fo r slav e ploughme n se e Gale-Moran t MSS Exete r Universit y Library 3/ c (York Jamaica 1778 1782) ; Crato n 1978 : 226 423 n 8 (Worth y Park Jamaica 1784 1794) ; Penrhy n MSS Th e Library Universit y Colleg e o f Nort h Wales Bangor R.W Fearo n t o Lor d Penrhyn 4 Oct 180 6 (Denbigh Jamaica) ; Publi c Recor d Office London T 71/154 2 (Marti n Byams Antigua 1830) ; Gale-Moran t MSS 4/ c (Moun t Hindmost Jamaica 1833) ; an d th e exampl e cite d above n 9 15 I shar e th e scepticis m expresse d o n thi s poin t b y Boomgaar d & Oostindi e (1989) Fo r th e stresse s o n slave s i n th e cane-holin g an d plantin g season an d fo r th e particula r concer n o f master s durin g th e amelioratio n perio d t o eas e thi s par t o f th e annua l cycle se e War d 1988 : 15-29 92-3 215 ; Edward s 1819 : ii 248 Hal l 1971 : 22 quote s a n Antigua n plante r wh o ha d give n u p ploughing becaus e o f th e nee d t o kee p a slav e holdin g occupie d throug h th e year Hall' s quotatio n i s repeate d (an d attribute d t o Jamaica ) b y Aufhause r 1973 : 817 I t i s jus t possibl e tha t o n Antigua th e onl y on e o f th e Britis h suga r colonie s t o forg o 'apprenticeship i n 1834 planter s fei t themselve s t o b e mor e encumbere d wit h surplu s labou r tha n di d thei r counterpart s o n othe r islands Bu t th e cas e cite d b y Hal l seem s t o b e quit e exceptiona l eve n fo r Antigua Th e colonis t quote d wa s th e onl y on e o f eigh t loca l me n examine d abou t th e possibilitie s fo r th e us e o f machiner y t o repl y i n thes e term s {British Parliamentary Papers 1836: 274) Crato n (1978 : 226 ) mention s th e fea r o f idlenes s ou t o f ero p a s a reaso n agains t ploughing Bu t h e acknowledge s als o tha t som e authors readin g bac k fro m late r practice hav e exaggerate d th e 'five-mont h fur y o f th e suga r erop i n th e slaver y period Ploughin g wit h fre e labou r a t Worth y Par k durin g th e earl y 1840 s di d no t produc e marke d seasona l variation s i n employmen t (Crato n 1978 : 276-8 295) Neithe r di d i t d o s o o n th e Parha m plantations Antigu a (Tudwa y MSS Bo x 53 wag e sheets) Dun n (1984 : 174-5 ) offer s Mesopotami a estate Jamaica a s representativ e o f Britis h Wes t India n conditions H e suggest s tha t 'th e slave s wer e give n simpl e han d tool s an d n o labor-savin g devices Muc h o f thei r wor k woul d hav e bee n performe d b y draf t animal s i n Englis h o r Nort h America n agriculture Suga r wa s the n a s i t i s now a seasona l erop bu t th e overseer s stretche d ou t th e task s t o kee p th e slave s full y occupie d a t al l times. I n m y ow n readin g o f th e record s fro m Mesopotami a I hav e no t foun d an y suppor t fo r thi s suggestion Th e ploug h wa s use d o n th e estat e fro m th e 1760 s unti l a t leas t th e 1790 s (Clarendo n MSS De p c 357 D Barnju m t o J.F Barham 1 4 Sept 1765 ; above n 9) I f ploughin g wa s subsequentl y give n u p her e i t i s mor e likel y t o hav e bee n becaus e o f th e stiffnes s o f th e loca l soil s tha n an y desir e t o sprea d employmen t throug h th e year I n th e 1820 s attempt s wer e mad e a t Mesopotami a t o reduc e th e labou r o f holin g an d replantin g b y extendin g th e ratoon s ("War d 1988 : 92-3) I n th e 1840s althoug h th e estate' s manage r claime d tha t h e use d th e ploug h whereve r possible h e coul d stil l quot e rate s o f pa y fo r diggin g can e hole s i n unploughe d lan d {British Parliamentary Papers 1847-8 : 192-3) 16 Gree n (1976 : 51-2 ) emphasise s ho w slav e resistanc e t o ne w implement s confirme d planters attachmen t t o customar y han d methods A n unusuall y detaile d impressio n i s give n o f th e experienc e an d attitude s o f on e plante r throug h th e diarie s kep t b y Thoma s Thistlewood wh o worke d a s a n oversee r o n suga r estate s i n wester n Jamaic a fo r mos t o f th e perio d 1751-6 7 (Monso n MSS Lincolnshir e Archive s Office Lincoln Mon 31/1-37) Thistlewoo d note d (1 8 Mar 1751 ) Tha t som e negro e suga r Boiler s purposedl y wil l mak e n o suga r t o ge t th e oversee r turn' d ou t whe n the y don' t lik e him' bu t apparentl y neve r though t

PAGE 141

CHANGIN G SUGA R TECHNOLOG Y AN D TH E LABOU R NEXU S 5 5 tha t h e himsel f ha d bee n th e objec t o f suc h a n attempt I n hi s 1 6 year s a s a suga r plante r h e onl y recorde d on e suspecte d ac t o f sabotage O n 7 Mar 176 7 th e rnil l ha d broke n dow n an d h e foun d a walkin g stic k o r cudge l lyin g nearby afte r havin g bee n passe d throug h th e rollers Thistlewoo d too k a clos e interes t i n possibilitie s fo r technica l improvement althoug h h e neve r trie d ploughing H e seem s t o hav e entertaine d n o doubt s abou t slaves capacit y fo r skille d work O n 2 5 Jan 176 2 h e ha d th e temporar y loa n fro m a neighbourin g estat e o f th e 'famou s Boile r name d Wille' wh o departe d fiv e day s late r wit h present s o f mone y an d tw o bottle s o f rum an d th e diar y comment : 'h e certainl y i s a ver y goo d boiler. O n 9 Feb 1762 whil e th e mil l wa s bein g repaired Thistlewoo d remarked : 'Maso n Quashi e ver y hand y abou t suc h things. 17 Kulikof f note s tha t Chesapeak e planter s di d no t trus t Africa n slave s wit h an y but th e mos t rudimentar y tools an d tha t plough s wer e adopte d a s th e proportio n o f creol e slave s increased I a m no t sur e ho w significan t creolisatio n wa s a s a n influenc e o n th e rat e o f technica l progres s i n th e Britis h Wes t Indies Planter s ther e gav e a perceptibl e bu t no t i n overwhelmin g preferenc e t o Creole s ove r African s i n selectin g fo r skille d assignment s (War d 1988 : 228) Thu s a t York Jamaica i n 178 2 on e o f th e thre e ploughme n wa s a 2 1 yea r ol d Ebo e calle d Denni s (Gale-Moran t MSS 3/c) I n th e late r 18t h centur y th e proportio n o f creol e slave s stoo d a t abou t 70 % i n Nort h Americ a bu t onl y 35 % i n Jamaic a (Klei n & Engerma n 1978 : 372 ; War d 1988 : 129) However physica l condition s wer e als o mor e favourabl e t o ploughin g i n Nort h America Som e usefu l comparativ e perspective s migh t b e gaine d fro m th e experienc e o f European s employin g 'nativ e labour wit h th e ploug h i n colonia l Sout h Afric a an d Spanis h America I d o no t hav e th e impressio n tha t adaptatio n i n thes e area s wa s though t t o b e particularl y difficult 18 Monso n MSS Thistlewoo d Diaries 19 Thi s conclusio n i s base d o n a n examinatio n o f th e slav e listing s detaile d i n War d 1988 : 280-1 20 Thu s i n th e discussio n o f Jamaica n slav e revolt s an d th e mean s t o preven t the m b y Lon g (1774 : ii 404-504) stres s i s pu t o n th e nee d t o encourag e 'mino r staples' grow n b y whit e smallholders rathe r tha n th e employmen t o f whit e craftsme n o n th e suga r estates REFERENCE S AUFHAUSER R KEITH 1973 Slaver y an d scientifi c management Journal of Economie History 33:811-24 BELL K.N & MORRELL W.P (eds) 1928 Select documents on British colonial policy 18301860. Oxford Oxfor d Universit y Press BENNETT J.H. 1958 Bondsmen and bishops: slavery and apprenticeship on the Codrington plantations of Barbados, 1710-1838. Berkeley Universit y o f Californi a Press BOOMGAARD PETE R & OOSTINDIE GER T J. 1989 thi s issu e oNWIG. BRITIS H PARLIAMENTAR Y PAPERS 1789 xxv i (646a) Repor t o f th e Lord s o f th e Committe e o f Council...concerning...th e trad e i n slaves... London Hous e o f Commons

PAGE 142

5 6 J.R WAR D BRITIS H PARLIAMENTAR Y PAPERS 1831-2 x x (721) Repor t fro m th e Selec t Commit tee...upon...th e extinctio n o f slavery... London Hous e o f Commons BRITIS H PARLIAMENTAR Y PAPERS xli x (166) Paper s i n explanatio n o f measure s adopte d fo r givin g effec t t o Abolitio n o f Slaver y Ac t (pts III 1-2) London Hous e o f Commons BRITIS H PARLIAMENTAR Y PAPERS 1837-8 xli x (154.1) Paper s i n explanatio n o f th e measu res....fo r givin g effec t t o th e Ac t fo r th e Abolitio n o f Slavery London Hous e o f Commons BRITIS H PARLIAMENTAR Y PAPERS 1842 xii i (479) Repor t fro m th e Selec t Committe e o n Wes t Indi a Colonies London Hous e o f Commons BRITIS H PARLIAMENTAR Y PAPERS 1847-8 xxiii Par t II I (245) Sevent h Repor t fro m th e Selec t Committe e o n suga r an d coffe e planting London Hous e o f Commons COLEMAN D & MACLEOD C 1986 Attitude s t o ne w techniques : Britis h businessmen 1800 1950 Economie History Review 2n d Ser.39 : 588-611 CRATON MICHAEL 4978 Searchingfor the invisible man: slaves andplantation life in Jamaica. Cambridge Mass. Harvar d Universit y Press 1982 Testing the chains: resistance to slavery in the British West Indies. Ithaca N.Y. Cornel l TJniversit y Press CRATON MICHAE L & WALVIN J. A Jamaican plantation: the history of Worthy Park 16701970. London W.H Allen DAVY J. 1854 The West Indies before and since slave emancipation. London W & F.G Cash DUNN RICHAR D S. 1984 Servant s an d slaves : Th e recruitmen t an d employmen t o f labor In J.P Green e & J.R Pol e (eds) Colonial British America: essays in the New History of the Early Modern Era. Baltimore John s Hopkin s Universit y Press pp 157-94 EDWARDS BRYAN 1819 The history, civil and commercial, of the British colonies in the West Indies. 5t h edn. 5 vols London T Miller GASPAR D BARRY 1978 Th e Antigu a slav e conspirac y o f 1736 : a cas e stud y o f th e origin s o f collectiv e resistance William andMary Quarterly 3r d Ser 35 : 308-23 GREEN WILLIA M A. 1973 Th e plante r clas s an d Britis h Wes t India n suga r production befor e an d afte r Emancipation Economie History Review 2n d Ser 26 : 448-63 1976 British slave Emancipation: the sugar colonies and the great experiment 18301865. Oxford Oxfor d Universit y Press GRILICHES Z. 1971 Hybri d cor n an d th e economic s o f innovation In R.W Foge l & S.L Engerma n (eds) The reinterpretation of American economie history. Ne w York Harpe r & Row pp 207-13

PAGE 143

CHANGIN G SUGA R TECHNOLOG Y AN D TH E LABOU R NEXU S 5 7 HALL DOUGLAS 1959 Free Jamaica 1838-1865: an economie history. Ne w Haven Conn. Yal e Universit y Press 1971 Five of the Leewards, 1834-1870. St Lawrence Barbados Caribbea n Universit y Press KLEIN HERBER T S & ENOERMAN STANLE Y L. 1978 Fertilit y differential s betwee n slave s i n th e Unite d State s an d th e Britis h Wes t Indies : a not e o n lactatio n practice s an d thei r possibl e implications William andMary Quarterly 3r d Ser 35 : 357-74 KULIKOFF A. 1986 Tobacco and slaves: the development of Southern cultures in the Chesapeake, 1680-1800. Chape l Hill Nort h Carolin a Universit y Press LEWIS M.G. 1929 Journal of a West India proprietor, kept during a residence in the Island of Jamaica, ed M Wilson London Routledge LONG EDWARD 1774 The history of Jamaica. 3 vols London T Lowndes PARES RICHARD 1950 A West-India fortune. London Longmans PORTER G.R. 1831 The nature and properties of the sugar cane. London Smith Elde r &Co ROUGHLEY T. 1823 The Jamaica planter's guide. London Longma n & Co RAGATZ L.J. 1928 The f all of the planter class in the British Caribbean, 1763-1833. Ne w York Th e Centur y Co SCOTT REBECC A J. 1984 Explainin g Abolition : contradiction adaptatio n an d challeng e i n Cuba n slav e society 1860-1886 Comparative Studies in Society and History 26 : 83-111 SHERIDAN RICHAR D B. 1974 Sugar and slavery: an economie history of the British West Indies 1623-1775. Baltimore Th e John s Hopkin s Universit y Press STURGE J & HARVEY T. 1968 The West Indies in 1837. London Dawsons TAYLOR B.M. 1976-7 Ou r ma n i n London : Joh n Pollar d Mayers Agen t fo r Barbados an d th e Britis h Abolitio n Act 1832-1834 Caribbean Studies 16 Nos 3 an d 4 : 60-84 WATTS DAVID 1987 The West Indies: patterns of development, culture and environmental change since 1492. Cambridge Cambridg e Universit y Press WARD J.R. 1979 A plante r an d hi s slave s i n eighteenth-centur y Jamaica In T.C Smou t (ed.) The searchfor wealth and stability. London Macmillan pp 1-20

PAGE 144

5 8 J.R WAR D WARD J.R. 1988 British West Indian slavery, 1750-1834: Theprocess of Amelioraon. Oxford Oxfor d Universit y Press J.R WAR D Departmen t o f Economi e an d Socia l Histor y Universit y o f Edingburg h 5 0 Georg e Square Edingurg h EH 8 9J Y Scotland