Enslaved Women and Motherhood

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Enslaved Women and Motherhood Saint Domingue on the Eve of the Haitian Revolution
Walton, Rachel D
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[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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1 online resource (71 p.)

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Master's ( M.A.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
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Committee Chair:
Geggus, David P
Committee Co-Chair:
Guerra, Lillian
Committee Members:
Sensbach, Jon
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Subjects / Keywords:
Childbirth ( jstor )
Coffee industry ( jstor )
Coffee plantations ( jstor )
Creoles ( jstor )
Mothers ( jstor )
Plantations ( jstor )
Slavery ( jstor )
Sugar plantations ( jstor )
Sugars ( jstor )
Women ( jstor )
History -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
caribbean -- demography -- french -- haiti -- reproduction -- slavery -- women
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
born-digital ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
History thesis, M.A.


Called the “Pearl of the Antilles,” Saint Domingue in the years leading up to the Haitian Revolution was the world’s leading exporter of sugar and coffee. However, like most in the Caribbean, Saint Domingue slaves were unable to sustain their own population, exhibiting a steady natural rate of decrease due to either high mortality or low natality. It is the latter of these two causes, low fertility, which this thesis investigates. Surveying eighteen Saint Domingue plantation inventories (13 coffee plantations and 5 sugar plantations), with a total of more than 2,000 slaves, from the period1778-1792, the central purpose of this thesis is to distinguish slave mothers from those who did not give birth and compare their levels of reproductive success across the axes of croptype and ethnicity. Four major facets of fertility are considered: 1) fertility indexes 2) birth spacing 3) onset, peak, and duration of fecundity 4) distribution of mothers across age bands. An examination of slave demographics is first pursued in this paper at the plantation level. The plantation groups are then compiled into larger population samples distinguished by ethnicity and plantation type. The results of this study clearly indicate how reproductive success varied across the slave population and prompt a discussion of the potential influences behind these fertility trends. Offering a quantitative portrait of slave motherhood at the most critical moment in the colony’s history, this thesis makes a modest contribution to the relatively undeveloped field of slave demography in Saint Domingue. ( en )
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Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2012.
Adviser: Geggus, David P.
Co-adviser: Guerra, Lillian.
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by Rachel D Walton.

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2 2012 Rachel Walton


3 To my mother, Renea, a true survivor


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I must express immense gratitude to my advisor, Dr. David Geggus, for his constant guidance and direction ov er the last two years during the researching and writing of this paper; his input, encouragement, and editing skil ls were absolutely invaluable in its completion. In addition, I thank my other committee members, Dr. Lillian Guerra and Dr. Jon Sensbach, for the helpful and insightful comments they offered when this work reached its final stages. I also want to express sincere appreciation to my parents who have supported me both emotionally and financially over the years. Last, but not least, I a m eternally gra teful to the love of my life, David, who more than anyone knows both the stress es and joy s I experienced in pursuing this project.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 7 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 8 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 11 2 ................................ ................................ .. 17 Sex Ratios ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 17 Occupation, Status, Color, and Gender Relations ................................ .................. 19 Nutrition, Work, and Amelioration Policies ................................ .............................. 24 3 COFFEE PLANTATIONS ................................ ................................ ....................... 29 Gruel Plantation ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 29 Clment/Baudu, Labole, Dugas, and Claubry Plantations ................................ ...... 29 Carteau Plantation ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 32 Courtois Plantation ................................ ................................ ................................ 32 Oudart and Moulin de Rcy Plantations ................................ ................................ .. 33 Les Faurier Plantation ................................ ................................ ............................. 34 Clment and Hamelin Plantations ................................ ................................ ........... 35 de Sevr Plantation ................................ ................................ ................................ 36 4 SUGAR PLANTATIONS ................................ ................................ ......................... 38 Orlans and Peyrac Plantations ................................ ................................ ............. 38 Grard Planta tion ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 40 Fournier de Bellevue Plantation ................................ ................................ .............. 41 5 RESULTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 45 Birth Sp acing ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 51 Fertility and Age ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 55 Distribution of Mothers ................................ ................................ ............................ 59 6 CONCL USION ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 65


6 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................... 68 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ............................ 71


7 LIST OF TABLES Table page 2 1 Plantation overview (raw data and fertility indexes) ................................ ........... 28 3 1 Plantation overview (results) ................................ ................................ .............. 44 5 1 Fertility indexes ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 6 2 5 2 Average age at which mothers (15 39) experienced their first birth ................... 62 5 3 Percentage of women designated as mothers by age and croptype ................. 62


8 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 3 1 ................. 43 5 1 ................................ ....... 63 5 2 Number of births on coffee and sugar plan .................. 63 5 3 Number ..... 64 5 4 Number of Afri ...... 64


9 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts ENSLAVED WOMEN AND MOTHERHOOD: SAINT DOMINGUE ON THE EVE OF THE HAITIAN REVOLUTION By Rachel Walton May 2012 Chair: Nina Caputo Major: History Haitian Rev most in the Caribbean, Saint Domingue slaves were unable to sustain their own population, exhibiting a steady natural rate of decrease due to either high mortality or low natality It is the latter of these two causes, low fertility, which this thesis investigates. Surveying eighteen Saint Domingue plantation inventories (13 coffee plantations and 5 sugar plantations), with a total of more than 2,000 slaves, from the period1778 179 2, the central purpose of this thesis is to distinguish slave mothers from those who did not give birth and compare their levels of reproductive success across the axes of croptype and ethnicity. Four major facets of fertility are considered: 1) fertility indexes 2) birth spacing 3) onset, peak, and duration of fecundity 4) distribution of mothers across age bands. An examination of slave demographics is first pursued in this paper at the plantation level. The plantation groups are then compiled into large r population samples distinguished by ethnicity and plantation type. The results of this study clearly indicate how reproductive success varied across the slave population and prompt a discussion of the potential influences behind these fertility trends. O ffering a


10 history, this thesis makes a modest contribution to the relatively undeveloped field of slave demography in Saint Domingue.


11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION French Saint Domingue on the eve of the Haitian Revolution had the third largest export economy. 1 However, this substantial slave population, like most in the Americas, had a negative natural growth rate and therefore could not sustain itself without recourse to the Atlantic slave trade. 2 Historians remain divided in their explanation of this widespread phenomenon and tend to stress either high mortality or low natality as the principal cause. Apparently low birth rates might, in fact, have been due to under reporting of infant mortality, and this remains an intractable problem. Birth rates were by of this demographic investigation, but it should be understood that the data dis cussed were also shaped to an uncertain degree by infant mortality. The purpose of this paper most important colony. Compared to the slave societies of the United States a nd the British Caribbean, there has been very little research into the slave demography of Saint Domingue; much remains to be learned. 3 In addition, by prioritizing the female sex and 1 Bernard Moitt, ed., Sugar, Slavery, and Society: Perspectives in the Caribbean, India, the Mascarenes, and the United States (Gainesville, FL: The University Press of Florida, 2004), 57. 2 1982), 1 22. Schwartz suggests th at the fostering of stable marital and familial unions on Benedictine engenhos (sugar mills) allowed for slightly positive levels of natural increase on some Brazilian sugar estates owned by individual monasteries in the second half of the eighteenth centu ry (see pages 18 19). 3 and Coffee Cultivation in Saint Domingue and the Shaping of the Slave Labor Force" in Ira Berlin and Philip D.Morgan, eds, Cultivation a nd Culture : Labor and the Shaping of Slave Life in the Americas


12 reproduction this study attempts to contribute to a revisionist history of slave societies 4 This thesis will be focused on identifying slave mothers and comparing them to slave women who did not give birth. Eighteenth population was extreme ly diverse. By the 1780s, roughly one third of adult slave thirds had been transported from Africa and represented dozens of different cultures. Most African and creole women worked as field slaves, but some were house servants, and a few were nurses. Creole slaves were higher up on the occupational hierarchy, often gaining positions with particular privileges to which other slaves were not privy. A small minority of creoles of mixed r white owners or overseers. Creole slaves were characteristically healthier than African slaves who had endured the middle passage and had to adapt to an unfamiliar disease environment. H epidemiological advantages, and their integration since birth into the local culture, made them more likely than their African counterparts to become mothers. 5 Therefore, one of the main axe s of this exploration of slave fertility will be a comparison of African and creole women. D. Geggus and N. Fiering, eds, The World of t he Haitian Revolution (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2009). 4 Gwyn Campbell, Suzanne Miers, and Joseph C. Miller, eds., Women and Slavery: The Modern Atlantic, Vol.2 (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2008), 253 275. Specifically, this study is a response to Claire the historiography (See page 273). Als Slave Women in Caribbean Society, 1650 1838 5 Michael Craton, Searching for the Invisible Man: Slaves and Plant ation Life in Jamaica (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1978), 94 99.


13 Close to one of the lowlands; a similar proportion worked on much smaller coffee plantations in t he mountainous interior. Coffee and sugar plantations were characterized by differences in terrain, climate, disease environment, and the type and severity of their work regimes. Sugar plantations typically had large labor forces of more than 150 slaves, and were subject to the most rigorous work regime of any plantation system due to the nature of 6 Coffee plantations generally had a much smaller labor force, about 50 slaves on average, and they made far less physical demands on their w orkers. 7 These essential differences in the coffee and sugar slave experience probably affected essential comparison of this thesis is concerned with the relative fertility of co ffee workers and sugar workers. As reliable birth data are extremely rare for most slave populations, the question of counts using a child to woman ratio, or fertility i ndex. 8 This is true of the limited amount of research conducted on slave fertility in Saint Domingue. Such measures are crude and distorted to an unknown extent by infant mortality. Additionally, they offer no information on the constituent variables of f ertility such as spacing between births, the proportion of women who never give birth, and the average age of menarche. 9 While this study uses the fertility index as its standard tool of analysis, it will also investigate 6 The average size of the sugar plantations examined in this study was much larger than this, at 265 slaves. 7 The average size of the coffee plantations examined in this study was slightly larger than this, at 65 slaves. 8 The best available measurement of fertility is held to be the ratio of children below age 5 to women aged between 15 and 44 (fertility index = (children 0 4 years/ women 15 44 years) x 1000) 9 Menarche is the at which women possess the ability to reproduce.


14 further the distribution of births by age group, the average age at which mothers experienced their first birth, and the question of birth spacing. Where sample size permits, I also attempt to measure the importance of occupation and racial intermixture as variables in determining the repr oductive success of Saint Domingue slaves. The primary sources of my study consist of eighteen plantation slave lists from late eighteenth century Saint Domingue, five from sugar estates and thirteen from coffee plantations, spanning the years 1778 to 17 92. Derived from estate inventories drawn up by notaries, owners, and managers, two were manuscript originals (from the University of Florida Library), eleven were photographic duplicates, and the remainder were typescript transcriptions made by different scholars. These inventories describe a total of 2,172 slaves. Organized by gender and age, they typically distinguish ngres (slave men), ngresses (slave women), ngrittes (slave girls), and ngrillons (slave boys). For the purposes of this study, and in most of the documents, children were defined as those under fifteen years of age. In addition to gender and age, the lists usually provided details on ethnic identity, occupation, value, and sometimes notes about the ics. Most importantly, all of these lists record the identity of the mothers of at least the youngest children, and sometimes of young adults as well. These data form the basis of this thesis. Although they do not reveal the entire population of mothers on a plantation, they allow us to identify the minimal proportion of women who gave birth and to examine the relative incidence of motherhood in different sectors of the enslaved population. Though the slave inventories originate directly from a primary so urce, the data they contain are not always straightforward. Any ambiguity or missing data within the


15 document require interpretation by the researcher, who is often forced to make difficult decisions. Such situations became problematic during my research o n only two occasions: when the same name was used for multiple women and there was a lack of further specification, or when a small number of mothers were not identified by their ethnic identity. In the first instance it was necessary to use an educated gu ess; in the second instance mothers of unknown ethnicity were included only in the comparisons between plantation types. The age at which women gave birth had to be estimated by ts assigned to slaves, particularly those born in Africa, were only approximate, the procedure has obvious flaws. A few slave mothers are recorded as giving birth at implausibly young or old ages. However, there is no way to avoid these complications when relying on effect of outliers on the outcome by having a large sample size and allowing the data to speak for themselves. Another drawback of these inventories is thei r failure to list all a that the data presented here offer a baseline, or minimum estimate, of fertility rather than a full accounting. The documents on which I have b ased my thesis reveal only a snapshot in the history of a handful of plantations. However, the collated demographic results allow us to construct a better picture of slave motherhood and fertility in one of the most materially successful of all slave socie ties at a critical point in its history. The relationship between reproductive success, work regime, and ethnicity is a subject of broad significance for the early modern Atlantic world, but one that remains little


16 researched in the case of Saint Domingue. Whether it sheds light on the origins of the great insurrection that would destroy the colony soon after these documents were written, remains to be seen.


17 CHAPTER 2 PERIENCE Sex Ratios In general, women in Caribbean slave population s were in the minority. 1 Planters plantation productivity. However, the most crucial attribute of productive labor was unquestionably youth, and therefore the Africans ship ped to the Americas were quite young, with the great majority of them between 15 and 30 years of age. 2 supply of Africans on slaving coasts. 3 A great number of male criminals and prisoners were sold into slavery in Africa due to the high incidence of inter territorial warfare and political turmoil. Additionally, African polygamist cultures valued women as wives, concubines, and agricultural laborers. 4 Therefore, Africans paid proportionately more for women than whites were willing to. 5 A combination of African supply and American demand caused twice as many males as females to cross the Atlantic. 6 About one third of all slave imports to the French West Indies were female, and t he sex ratio for Africans 7 However, women 1 The single exception to this may be some islands of the British West Indies after 1800. See Marietta Morrissey Slave Women in the New World: Gender Stratification in the Caribbean (Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1989), 42 43. 2 Ibid., 35. 3 Ibid., 38; James Walvin, Questioning Slavery (New York: Routledge, 1996), 96.These and other scholars argue that supply shaped the sex ratios of slave societies more than demand. 4 African polygamy discouraged the sale of women and there was a well established practice of retaining made women intrinsically valuable. See Morrissey, Slave Women 36 39. 5 Walvin, Questioning Slavery 96. 6 Ibid. 7 Force" in Ira Berlin and Phili p D.Morgan, eds, Cultivation and Culture: Labor and the Shaping of Slave Life in the Americas (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1993), 79; Morrissey, Slave Women, 35.


18 survived the transatlantic trip in greater numbers than men and, in general, were healthier throughout their lifetime. 8 By the late eighteenth cen tury the sex ratio of Saint Domingue slaves had somewhat leveled off. Male slaves died more quickly than females, and creoles were born in approximately equal numbers of males and females. Creole slaves in Saint Domingue had a sex ratio of about .95, and A frican sex ratios fell between 1.33 and 1.60. 9 Alongside the relatively low fertility levels of African women, such disproportional sex ratios amongst new Africans made for a dreadfully low birthrate, one that was much eath rate in the colony. 10 Since Africans always formed the majority of slaves in Saint Domingue, natural growth rates were negative. Recent scholarship indicates that during the last few decades leading up to the revolution, the average sex ratio on suga r plantations was about 1.15, and coffee displayed a slightly higher sex ratio of 1.20. 11 The results of this study present slightly higher figures than this as they include solely adults; the overall adult sex ratio for coffee plantations was found to be 1 .84, while sugar plantations exhibited a lower adult sex ratio of 1.38. 12 The gap between sex ratios on coffee and sugar plantations is consistent than those of coffee p lantations. An explanation for this trend is found in the fact that highland coffee plantations were several decades younger than most sugar estates, and, therefore, contained a larger percentage of young Africans, among whom males 8 9 Ibid., 79. This dramatic difference in 10 Fogel and Engerman, Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1974), 27. 11 12 This is an average, not cumulative, sex ratio which is calculated by the summation of individual


19 predominated. In contras t, older sugar plantations in the north had experienced a greater degree of creolization. 13 The creolization of a slave community points to its gradual feminization and a leveling out of its initially skewed gender ratio. 14 Therefore, the more even sex ratio of sugar plantations reflects the greater degree of creolization within their slave populations. Occupation, Status, Color, and Gender Relations By the 1780s, most of the agricultural work on Saint Domingue plantations was performed by slave women who ha d few pathways of advancement in its occupational occupied by females. 15 Rather, most non field positions of power and status belonged to males. Men were eight times as l ikely to escape the backbreaking toil of field work to a position of autonomy. 16 The jobs of skilled laborers (sugar boiler and furnace man 17 ) artisans (coopers 18 carpenters, masons, and wheelwrights 19 ), carters, coachmen, and slave drivers were invariably a ssigned to slave men. 20 The only non field positions available to slave women, other than midwifery and nursing, were domestic, for instance washerwoman, seamstress, or housekeeper. 21 Such roles did not offer female slaves 13 Creolization of a population refers to a gradual growth in the percentag e of locally born people within a community. It can also refer to the fusion of foreign and local cultural elements to create a new unique kind of cultural identity. The latter often occurs simultaneously with the former. This is certainly the case in late eighteenth century Saint Domingue. 14 Morrissey, Slave Women 34. 15 Clark Hine, eds, More Than Chattel: Black Women and Slavery in the Americas (Indianapolis: India na University Press, 1996), 262. 16 17 These are positions related to the processing of sugar in the plantation factory. 18 A cooper is a person who makes barrels. 19 A wheelright is a person who builds or repairs wheels. 20 Geg 21 Though some non field positions for women were not domestic in nature, for example some women tended to livestock or watched over small children, these jobs were regularly given to invalid or elderly


20 the mobility or independence that m field positions granted. In addition, as opportunity to become a domestic slave depended on the size of the plantation as well, e slaves living on sugar estates worked as 22 While domestic servitude was regarded by both master and slave as an proximity to their white owners incited a great deal of anxiety as they were under constant watch and continuously experienced domestic abuse. 23 24 l differentiation within the slave community. The elite echelons of slave society were comprised of men and creoles while Africans and women dominated the lowest social classes. 25 Creole slaves were preferred for all positions of privilege, particularly one s with close proximity to whites or those that allowed travel off the plantation. The reason for this was mainly because of their mastery of the local language and customs. 26 However, creoles also tended to be younger and healthier than their African women and th erefore should not be considered positions of status within the slave occupational hierarchy. 22 B.W. Higman, Slave Populations of the British Caribbean, 1807 1834 (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984), 172 173. 23 Ibid., 262; Also see Wa lvin, Questioning Slavery 24 Walvin, Questioning Slavery 105 106. 25 See Higman, Slave Populations of the British Caribbean 190 191, Figures 6.2 and 6.3. 26


21 counte rparts and were therefore more preferable apprentices to train in artisan or skilled labor professions. 27 African women had virtually no opportunity for social mobility and therefore the majority of them worked in the first or second field gangs. 28 In gener al, opportunities for social mobility depended largely on the size of the work force. 29 Huge sugar plantations with their factories and complex production processes offered a slew of skilled labor and artisan jobs that coffee plantations did not. 30 It is a lso recognized among historians that, in addition to ethnicity, color had a great deal of influence on who was selected for elite plantation positions. Light skinned creoles were more likely to be selected as artisans and domestics than either dark creoles or Africans. Caribbean planters everywhere made a practice of assigning the children of mixed unions, especially their own, to privileged occupations. 31 Mulatto slave women in Saint Domingue were six times more likely than black creoles to avoid field labo r, and most were employed as domestic servants. 32 In several plantation inventories of this study, one can find multiple generations of creole, and especially multresse (mulatto woman) and domestique (domestic slave) Bonnefemme of the Peyrac sugar plantation and all three of her young children worked in the plantation 27 28 : Slave Life at Mesopotamia in Jamaica and Mount The William and Mary Quarterly, Th ird Series, Vol. 34, No. 1 (Jan., 1977): 54 29 30 Ibid. 31 Ibid. At the Jamaican plantation of Mesopotamia mulatto slaves were favored by plantation managers. Of the seventeen mulattos on the estate, six were house servants, tw o were carpenters, one attended the local missionaries, and the rest were too young for employment. See 54. 32


22 house, yet her older and younger black creole sisters were all field slaves. 33 A preference for light skinned slav Caribbean slavery that was not replicated in the United States. 34 Planters of the the blacker the better as well as by 35 Frequentl y the domestic housekeeper on Caribbean plantations, serving as a live in mistress to the planter. This most certainly was the case of the 16 year old domestic slave Anne of t he Hamelin coffee plantation, the daughter of an aging in training, she birthed a mulatto baby at the tender of age of 15. from occasional instances of violent abuse to long lasting stable unions or even marriage. 36 In any case, it is widely recognized among historians that the relative scarcity of females in Saint Domingue put their sexual favors in high demand. 37 Therefore, slave women were exceptional ly vulnerable to the predatory attacks of white males. 38 Creole and mulatto slaves, as they monopolized positions of domestic servitude, were most likely to engage in relations with white men due to their closer nally, African women, though they did 33 Peyrac. J 145, inventory, 1783. Photocopy. 34 The exception to this was Charleston and New Orleans, where the Caribbean three caste system never fully disintegrated. See Eugene D. Genovese, Roll Jordan Roll: The World the Slaves Made (New York: Vintage Books, 1972 ), 327 328. 35 Ibid. 36 In Miserable Slavery: Thomas Thistlewood in Jamaica, 1750 86 (London : Macmillan, 1989). 37 Ibid. 38 Walvin, Questioning Slavery 102.


23 preference for black males as sexual partners. 39 Slave women who participated in h as monetary payment, or were allowed coveted plantation privileges. 40 For this reason it has been suggested that slave women may have wielded a degree of sexual power over their white male onable considering their altogether subservient position in society. Most scholars agree that slave women entered into interracial unions out of both fear that resistance would prompt punishment, and hope that compliance would yield tangible or intangible benefits. 41 The sexual labyrinth of sexual power which served as a basis not only for social control but also for 42 This reality, and the retention of Afric an polygamous practices, 43 iages 44 Others, of course, linked the slave such as contraception and abortion. 45 39 40 For example, money and privileges were afforded to the slave Phibbah, the famous creole lover of In Miserable Slavery. 41 Ibid., 266. 42 Bush, Slave Women in Caribbean Society 1 11. 43 Ibid., 124. 44 Campbell, Women and Slavery, Vol.2, 36. Here the slave owner, Richard Bright, is referring to the sexually transmitted disease of syphilis. 45 Bush, Slave Women in Caribbean Society 139 142. Bush argues that there is sufficient evidenc e of slave women in the Caribbean using of abortifacients in the form of herbal concoctions to end unwanted though he agrees that many women may have used certain herbs and infusions for contraception purposes, is less willing to acknowledge the practice of abortion ntrol over


24 Nutrition, Work, and Amelioration Po licies Malnutrition was a constant threat to women laboring in the fields, particularly mothers. An imbalanced diet weakened female slaves more than men, 46 and the physiological demands of pregnancy often resulted in protein and calcium deficiencies for exp ecting mothers still engaged in excessive labor. 47 The basic diet of Caribbean slaves usually included imported rations such as salt meat or dried fish. 48 However, on the largest islands owners expected their laborers to grow most of their food themselves, on small garden plots located near their quarters and more importantly on provision grounds that might be located on marginal land several miles away. Most slave women tended modest plots of land during their free time, if it can be said they had any. 49 A recent regional study of colonial Saint Domingue has indicated that slaves access to imported food staples, and the fact that coffee plantations, more numerous i n the north, had greater reserves of land for provision grounds, may all have contributed to better health for slaves in this region of the colony. 50 Yet there remains a good deal of uncertainty regarding the caloric intake of slaves in any part of the Cari bbean. As Higman has suggested, ration allowances prescribed by colonial slave law do not offer ll, Women and Slavery, Vol.2 39 40. 46 Female physiology requires three times more iron than men, owing to menstruation. Ibid., 31. 47 Ibid., 32. 48 Ibid., 31. 49 Higman, Slave Populations of the British Caribbean 204; Sidney Mintz and Michael Craton have bo th provision grounds] had come to regard the land they worked for food and the tenements they lived in as Caribbean, 1783 The William and Mary Quarterly third series, vol. 35, no. 2 (Apr., 1978), 355. 50 1791 Slavery & Abolition 20, no.2 (1999): 37 38.


25 a full picture of slave diets by any means, and there is little hard evidence available on the typical output of provision grounds. 51 Therefore, historians have looked to more 52 In the case of Saint Domingue, David Geggus has found that locally born creole slaves in aller than those in the South and West provinces. This seems to indicate less childhood malnutrition and better dietary standards in the northern region. 53 Strenuous physical labor in plantation fields during pregnancy and sometimes severe physical punish noted previously, cultivating sugar was more physically demanding than any other plantation crop, and in most colonies pregnant women worked in the cane fields well into their eighth month of pregnancy. 54 months of pregnancy, when women were the most susceptible to miscarriage, female slaves on sugar plantations were subject to excessive stooping, carried heavy weights, and toiled under unceasing com 55 By comparison, the work required of women on coffee plantations was considerably less arduous; there was them in a basket) was less time sensitive. The harshest labor, clearing land and turning the hand 51 Higman, Slave Populations of the British Caribbean 205. 52 Social Science History 6, no. 4 (Autumn, 1982), 482 515; Higman, Slave Populations of the British Caribbean 280 292. 53 54 Campbell, Women and Slavery, Vol.2 33. 55 Ibid.


26 men. And though women often performed the weeding, pruning, and picking on coffee plantations, these tasks were largely performed in the shade of the coffee trees. 56 object of concern in the second half of the eighteenth century, after the price of African slaves had risen considerabl y. Planters attempted to address the extremely low birth rates of their labor forces in various ways. Their solutions to the problem mostly lygamy, prolonged lactation, and postpartum abstinence. 57 Planters sometimes offered cash, extra provisions, or special privileges to attentive and successful mothers, for instance some planters provided compensation for the birthing and weaning of a child who reached the age of two. 58 Organized amelioration efforts also emerged from the municipal level. For example, in 1789 the Jamaica Assembly began to reward prolific slave women by exempting them from field work after the successful birth of their sixth ch ild. 59 time the inventory was recorded in 1783, six of the 75 women at Peyrac designated as 56 Higman, Slave Populations of the British Caribbean 167. 57 Bush, Slave Women in Caribbean Society 120. Apparently, there were a variety of reason w hy practitioners believed that the prolonged breast feeding practiced by slave mothers in the West Indies Slave Populations of the British Caribbean 353. In addition, Kenneth Morgan indicates that some planters thought the nursing of a child for several years compromised n Women and Slavery, Vol. 2, 38 29. 58 For example, a t Mesopotamia, a Jamaican sugar plantation, all mothers of newborn infants were paid a cash bonus "for raising their children," and nurs 59 Campbell, Women and Slavery, Vol. 2 43.


27 natalist polices were riddled with chronic problems including racial prejudice, obstetric and hygienic ignorance, a nd continual denial of the lethal effects of the severe plantation labor regime. 60 For these reasons, most amelioration efforts proved unsuccessful. 60 Ibid.


28 Table 2 1 Plantation overview (raw data and fertility indexes) Plantation Croptype Total Number of Slaves M en Women Children Number of Mothers Fertility Index* Gruel Coffee 27 12 5 10 2 2000 Clment Coffee 89 43 29 17 11 285 Clment/Baudu Coffee 64 24 18 22 8 437 Hamelin Coffee 189 64 67 58 34 466 Labole Coffee 50 20 15 15 7 416 Carteau Coffee 19 15 2 2 1 500 Claubry Coffee 27 15 8 4 3 200 Dugas Coffee 106 49 42 15 8 200 Les Faurier Coffee 52 22 9 21 6 1500 Moulin de Rcy Coffee 18 6 6 6 2 400 Courtois Coffee 57 13 17 27 10 588 Oudart Coffee 60 32 20 8 2 158 de Sevr Coffee 92 28 25 39 2 550 Orlan s Sugar 104 40 36 28 8 285 Fleuriau Sugar 256 110 87 59 43 261 Grard Sugar 160 78 48 34 14 222 Peyrac Sugar 484 218 156 110 75 324 Bellevue Sugar 318 136 90 92 29 453 Totals 2172 925 680 567 265 *Fertility Index = (children 0 4 years/ women 15 44 years) x 1000


29 CHAPTER 3 COFFEE PLANTATIONS Gruel Plantation The rather small coffee plantation of Thomas Gruel was in the mountains of Limb 1 Only two out of five women on the plantation we re identified as mothers, one African and one creole. Both were 29 years old, had an average of 3.5 children each, and their average interval between births was about 3.5 years. From what we can tell, these mothers experienced their first birth at 19 and 2 2 years of age, the African giving birth later. There were no adult women identified on this slave inventory under the age of 20 or between the ages 30 and 54. The largest group represented on this plantation was adult males between 15 and 19 years old; th ey comprised half of all the adult slaves, and 75% of all the adult males were African. Half of all the African females were 12 year old girls. It was obviously a very new estate with a workforce largely made up of young recently purchased laborers from sl ave ships. Clment/Baudu, Labole, Dugas, and Claubry Plantations The coffee plantations of Clment/Baudu, Labole, Dugas, and Claubry were all located in the central mountains of the North Province of Saint Domingue; Clment/Baudu, Labole, and Dugas in t he parish of Limonade, and Claubry slightly west of them, in Grande Rivire du Nord parish. 2 In 1788, the average size Clment/Baudu plantation totaled eighteen adult women, slightly less than half of whom were identified as mothers. While there was an 1 Gruel. ANOM, Aix en Provence, SDOM 1185, inventory, 7 May 1 788. 2 Clment/Baudu mer, Aix en Provence, SDOM869, inventory, 22 March 1788. Photocopy ; Labole Public Record Office, London, HCA 30/280, inventory, 20 June 1778. Photocopy ; Dugas. ANOM, Aix en Provence, SDOM 1396, invento ry, July 1780; Claubry Centre des mer, Aix en Provence, SDOM 866, 15 November 1785. Photocopy.


30 eq ual proportion of African and creole mothers on this plantation (four creoles and four Africans), 80% of creole women were mothers, but only 30% of African women were mothers. There was a total of nine childless Africans, eight of whom were well within the fertile age band. This implies that on this plantation creoles showed a greater proclivity to being mothers. The mean age at which women entered into motherhood was 21.29 years of age, but in every case creoles experienced their first births at significan tly younger ages. 3 high fertility index of 437. Both African and creole mothers had an average of 2.75 children each, and while creole mothers had their children, on average, 2.47 years a part, African women averaged nearly 4 years between births. This slave list, like that of Clment, mentioned two mulatto children, both born to creole women in their early twenties. Like Clment/Baudu, Labole was an average size coffee plantation with sl ightly less than half of its adult female slaves identified as mothers, with a fertility index of 416. However, the average age of the women at Labole was significantly older. Only one in four women in their twenties was a mother, but three in four women in their forties were mothers as well as both women in their fifties. Additionally, all women over the age of 22 were African, roughly 73% of the adult females. The creole population was unusually young. The oldest, and only, creole mother was 22 year old Fanchette. One of only three creole women on the plantation, she and her 15 year old sister were the first generation of women to be born on the plantation. The average age at which mothers on this plantation experienced their first birth was 22.85 years o f age. Interestingly, the 3 One creole mother is recorded as having had her first birth at 9 years of age. This indicates that she (or her child) was assigned an inappr opriate age Therefore, I have excluded this case from the calculation


31 single creole mother, Fanchette, entered into motherhood at the tender age of 15 and birthed her children an average of 2.33 years apart. On average, the rest of the mothers, all Africans, had their children 5.65 years apart, and did not experience their first births until 24.16 years of age. Similar to Clment/Baudu, the adult sex ratio for Labole is a little high, at 1.33 males per female. Dugas was a comparatively larger coffee plantation with almost twice the number of slave s as Clment/Baudu and Labole. Although its sex ratio (1.17) was only slightly skewed, a mere nine women were identified as mothers, one of whom was dead at the time of the inventory, July 1780. These eight living mothers, on average, had their first recor ded births extremely early in life at around 19 years old, and three quarters of these mothers had not had another child. As might be expected, the fertility index was very low (200). This rather anemic demographic picture is partially explicated by the fa ct that 80% of the women on the Dugas plantation were young (29 years old and younger) African women not born in the colony who had likely endured capture and the middle passage in the previous 5 10 years. In comparison, the creole women of this plantation were more fertile; nearly 40% of them became mothers before the age of 30, whereas less than 15% of African mothers were mothers by the same age. Claubry, a fairly small coffee plantation with less that 40% of its women identified as mothers, shared many similarities with the nearby plantation of Labole. Most centrally, the ages of the adult female slaves at Claubry were older than was typical; more than 60% of all women were over the age of 30, and all identified mothers were over the age of 32. The aver age age of the African women was 53.5 and that of the creoles 28.83. However, unlike the neighboring Labole or Dugas estates, the majority of


32 the women on this plantation were creoles. The fact that this labor force was thoroughly creolized and had an unus ually elderly population of mothers doubtless reflects the seemingly late in life, at an average 29.67 years old, with African mothers having their first child significan tly later. This plantation also had an uncharacteristically high adult sex ratio (1.88), and one of the lowest fertility indexes of any plantation surveyed (200). These statistics seem to indicate a degree of unhealthiness at Claubry, at least amongst wome n, and may point to the presence or effect of an unknown variable, such as disease or malnutrition. Carteau Plantation The Carteau coffee plantation was located in the northwest of Saint Domingue in Port Margot parish. 4 It was a very small plantation, th e smallest one presented in this thesis, with only one mother listed and an incredibly high sex ratio (7.5). The women on this plantation were more than outnumbered. Although the North was the most creolized province, there were very few creoles here and n o creole women. The 23 year old Senegalese mother had her first child at 16 years of age and her next before the age of 20; these were rather young ages for an African woman to have given birth. Courtois Plantation Slightly southeast of Carteau, the Cour tois Plantation was situated in the nearby Acul parish of the northern highlands. 5 Impressively, more than half of the women of this plantation were mothers; 70% of them had had their first child by the age of 20. In addition, the average age of first birth for this plantation, like the neighboring coffee 4 Carteau mer, Aix en Provence, SDOM867, inventory, 2 2 July 1787. Photocopy. 5 Courtois ANOM, Aix en Provence, SDOM 789, inventory, 15 June 1787.


33 plantation of Dugas, was extremely young at 19 years of age. The average age of the female population at Courtois was also relatively young; at the time of this inventory in 1787 not a single woman was over the age of 38, and their average age was 27. This may indicate that Courtois was a relatively young plantation at this moment it its history. Yet, unlike many of the other nascent coffee plantations, this plantation had a high fertility index (588) and i ts women slightly outnumbered its men. It also had almost even numbers of African and creole women and mothers. Finally, women in their 20s represented the most fertile age group on this plantation, with 100% of 20 years olds identified as mothers. Overall it seems the demographic growth potential for this plantation was altogether positive. Oudart and Moulin de Rcy Plantations A little south of Courtios lay the Oudart and Moulin de Rcy plantations, both northeast. 6 Oudart was a midsize plantation of about 60 slaves with an adult sex ratio of 1.6. The fertility index at Oudart was dismal at 158 and only two mothers were identified out of a total of 20 women. Every adult on this plantation was imported from Africa, probably within the previous ten years, and most were of Congolese origins. Also, unsurprisingly for a coffee plantation, the female slave population here was very young; only one woman was over 36 years old at the time the inventory was recorded in 1786. It seems that even in the healthier environment of the highlands these young women were unable to have successful pregnancies. 6 Moulin de Rcy. ANOM, Aix en Provence, SDOM 865, inventory, 11 July 1778; Oudart ANOM, Aix en Provence, SDOM 788, 26 June 1786.


34 Moulin de Rcy had a much smaller labor force, with a total of only 18 slaves, and these slaves were older than those a six years older than the average age of those at Oudart. Nevertheless, they seemed to fare better than their neighbors in terms of fertility, exhibiting a fertility index of 400. Despite the fact that the ove rwhelming majority of all adults on this plantation were imported from Africa (most from the Congo), mothers on Moulin had an average of 2.5 children and began having their children at relatively young ages; remarkably, the average age at which mothers exp erienced their first birth was just over 18 years old. However, the average time between successful births was nearly 4 years. This may point to the use of prolonged nursing practices and perhaps the maintenance of African cultural norms by slave women and mothers. Les Faurier Plantation Les Faurier was also a moderately sized coffee plantation located in the northeastern highlands. 7 Its slave community was amazingly prolific considering the unfavorable sex ratio it expressed (2.44) and the small number of women (only 6) occupying the fertile age band of 15 44 years old at the time of its inventory in 1786. One woman especially stands out as a particularly successful mother; having had 7 successful pregnancies by the age of 56, Marthe, a Congo woman from the first generation of slaves to occupy the plantations, had children into her early fifties. On average, she had her children every 6.5 years from the time of her first recorded mot herhood and her ability to remain fertile even into her later years may be an indicator of dubious age statistics. She could have appeared or been perceived by the 7 Les Faurier ANOM, Aix en Pr ovence, SDOM 290, inventory, 5 September, 1786.


35 record keeper as older than her true age, and therefore her case should be cautiously evalua ted before being incorporated into vital statistics In addition, the long stretches of second birth) suggests that she experienced one or multiple failed pregnancies be tween successful births; infant mortality is rarely, if ever, recorded on such inventories, and therefore birth spacing can be misleading in such instances. Clment and Hamelin Plantations The Clment and Hamelin coffee plantations were in the Grand Anse region of Saint Domingue at the tip of the southern peninsula, the frontier of the 1780s coffee boom. 8 The Clment brothers were merchants from Le Cap, a bustling port town on the north coast, who had invested in the fast developing south. By the time of th e inventory, in 1792, both brothers were dead; in fact, Jean Baptiste was the first planter killed in the 1791 insurrection. The slave population of this region in the late eighteenth century was generally African and quite recently arrived. Though the C lment coffee plantation was quite large, its inventory only identified eleven mothers. In all, 38% of the adult females were identified as mothers, and every woman had been imported from Africa, the oldest creole identified being an 11 year old girl. The majority (63%) of women on this plantation were in their twenties, and more than half (54%) of these women were mothers. In general, the average age of adult females was quite young, with fewer than 25% of women being over the age of 35. Despite the fact that the great majority of these women were within the fertile age band, this plantation displayed a very low fertility index of 285, and most mothers had no more 8 Clment University of Florida, Special Collections, Jrmie Papers, 9 27A, inventory, 1792; Hamelin/Ducasse University of Florida, Special Collections, Jrmie Papers, 6A 3, inventory, 25 January 1780.


36 than one child. On average, mothers experienced their first birth at 22.55 years of age, and only two women had had children in their thirties, but there was only one childless woman. As on the Gruel plantation, the presence of three 13 year old African girls testifies to the very young age at which Africans were being sold at this time. Hamelin was an even larger plantation than Clment, and in 1780 was also comprised of mostly Africans. At least 85% of adult males and over half of adult females were African. However, unlike Clment, this coffee plantation had an unusually balanced sex ratio of 0.96. Half of the adult women on this plantation were mothers, and one third of these mothers were Creoles. About 35% of mothers were in their twenties and slightly fewer (30%) were in their thirties. The average age of adult females was about 31 years o ld, and mothers, on average, entered into motherhood at 23.65 years of age. Women on this plantation exhibited a rather high fertility index of 466, and each mother had on average 1.91 children. Interestingly enough, African mothers spaced their births an average of 3.61 years apart, while Creoles averaged only 2.5 years For example, one year old Marguerite was a third generation creole of mixed racial background whose mother and grandmother were domestics. She was named after her grandmother, the mnagre or housekeeper. de Sevr Plantation 9 De Sevr was a larger than average coffee plantati on in Tiburon parish also located at the far end of the southern peninsula. 10 Its inventory from 1787 offers very 9 de Sevr. ANOM, Aix en Provence, SDOM 868, inventory, 18 September, 1787.


37 little explicit information on slave mothers; only two mothers were identified though there are as many as 39 children listed. However, despite sex ratio (1.12) indicates that it was fairly prolific. Uniquely, this inventory lists two sets of marrons (runaway slaves); the first a 24 year old creole (supposedly mulatto) mother and her 2 year old quadroon child, and the second a 32 year old Congo woman with her two Congo children. 11 As Bernard Moitt has noted, neither children nor unforeseen perils excluded women from marronnage (s lave flight). 12 Marronnage was particularly excellent hiding places for maroons. 13 10 de Sevr. ANOM, Aix en Provence, SDOM 868, inventory, 18 September, 1787. 11 The term quadroon was used to designate a person of one quarter African ancestry. 12 Bernard Moitt, ed., Sugar, Slavery, and Society 54. 13 Ibid., 54,57.


38 CHAPTER 4 SUGAR PLANTATIONS Orlans and Peyrac Plantations Both the absentee sugar plantations of Orlans and Peyrac were situated in the Cul de Sac plain in the West Province of Saint Domingue. 1 The Orlans plantation belonged to the duc d'Orlans, the king's cousin, who was guillotined in 1794. It was located on the coast, a little north of the ca pital, Port au Prince, at the mouth of the Grande Rivire du Cul de Sac. The Peyrac sugar plantation was several miles further inland and was said to have had a very imposing set of buildings. Orlans was a small sugar plantation and had been recently pu rchased by the duke. Less than a quarter of its adult female population was identified as mothers, and plantation, and three flects its rather young age at the time of the inventory. There were 50% more African mothers than creole mothers, who had, on average, more children; while Africans averaged 2.5 children per mother, creole mothers had 4 children each. The most noteworthy example of a successful creole mother was 40 year old Guitte, who had total of six children at an average 2.8 years apart from one another, giving birth from age 26 up until age 40. The average age at which women on this plantation experienced their first recorded birth was 26.13 years old, though both creole mothers first gave birth at the slightly younger average age of 24. Most mothers, both African and creole, had their children at 1 Archives nationales, Paris. 300 AP I 144, inventory of January 1779. Transcription by D. Geggus; Peyrac 24 J 145, inventory, 1783. Photocopy.


39 approximately three year intervals. The population of mothers in general was relatively old; 50% of mothers were 40 year olds and only one in eight was younger than 30. Peyrac, by far the largest plantation sampled in this survey, had a slightly higher than desirable sex ratio at 1.40 males per female. Its female population was significantly creolized; 62% of all women and 68% of all mothers were creole. It seems that creoles at Peyrac were also slightly more likely to be mothers than their African counterparts. Whereas 52% of all creole women were mothers, only about 40% of African women had children at the time of the inventory. Also, African women had their first children, on average, later in life (at 25.9 years of age), while creole women experienced their first births at the younger age of 23. Though the best represented age group for all females was women in their twenties, there were nearly equal percentages of mothers in their twenties, thirties, and forties. African mothers on this plantation exhibited notably wider birth spacing (5.87 years) than creoles (4 years), b ut both groups displayed particularly long intervals between children. All mothers on this plantation had an average between 1.63 and 1.80 children each, and nearly 48% of the women were mothers. The fertility index is better than most sugar plantations a t 324. Fleuriau Plantation The less massive Fleuriau sugar plantation was also in the Cul de Sac plain and, like many Saint Domingue estates, was owned by an absentee wealthy merchant. 2 Forty three percent of women of known identity at Fleuriau were creo le. About half of the female workers were mothers, who were similarly balanced between creoles and 2 Fleuriau Jacques Cauna. "Une habitation coloniale la fin du X VIIIe sicle." Thse de 3me cycle, Universit de Poitiers, 1983.


40 Africans. In contrast to the large Peyrac plantation, creoles do not seem to have been any more likely than Africans to be mothers at Fleuriau; nearly 50% of both African and creole women were mothers. There was, however, a larger than usual percentage of elderly mothers listed on this plantation. Nearly two listed as mothers, and, as might be expected, four out of five of th ese were African. African mothers on this plantation had, on average, slightly fewer children in their lifetime (1.47) than creoles (2.11), and also displayed an average of 6.5 years between births, while creole women, had their children an average of ever y 4.7 years. African women also seem to have entered motherhood significantly later in life, at about 28.32 years of age, on average, while creoles experienced their first birth at 22.22 years of age. Clearly, the fact that the estate manager chose to iden tify the mothers of many young adults as well as children made these data more likely to be skewed by infant mortality. Yet it seems safe to deduce that Africans on the Fleuriau plantation were less successful mothers than their creole counterparts. This s was low, even for sugar, at 261. Grard Plantation The moderate size Grard sugar plantation was located in the South Province, in the plain of Les Cayes, where estates tended to be somewhat smaller. 3 It was owned by Jean Baptiste Grard, a self made man and resident planter, who at the time of this inventory in 1789 was soon to become a deputy in the French National Assembly. The adult slave population on Grard was overwhelmingly African in its composition, particularly f or adult females, and the average age of women was rather young; there 3 Grard mer, Aix en Provence, 92APC/5/16, inventory, 11 April 1789. Transcription by D. Geggus.


41 were no female slaves identified over the age of 47. About 77% of all women and 71% of slave mothers were identified as African. Slave mothers represented 30% of all the men, and the majority (64%) of them were over age 30. However, the average age at which these mothers had their first child was rather young at about 22.5 years old. Unusually, creole mothers on this plantation had, on average, fewer children than did Afri cans; African mothers averaged 2.86 children each while creoles had only an average of 1.25. Creole mothers, nonetheless, exhibited shorter birth spacing intervals (every 3 years), in comparison to African mothers who experienced their births nearly 5 year this plantation suffered from gender imbalance. In addition, it low fertility index (222), the lowest of any sugar plantation in this survey, highlights its lack of reproductive su ccess. Fournier de Bellevue Plantation The very large Fournier de Bellevue sugar plantation was in the most prosperous part of the North Plain, in Limonade parish, not far from Cap Franais. 4 This was the most creolized region of Saint Domingue, and the only place where locally born slaves formed a majority of the adult population. 5 About 32% of women on this estate were mothers, of whom nearly 80% were creole. In fact, a great majority (75%) of the entire female population was creole, and creoles seemed to have been slightly more likely than Africans to become mothers. While only 23% of African women were mothers, over 35% of creole women had given birth. However, creoles did not seem to have had significantly more children nor have them more often than did Africans. All mothers had, on average, between 1.30 and 1.33 children, exhibiting average birth spacing between 4 mer, Aix en Provence, Notar iat de Saint Domingue 1388, inventory, 3 February 1783. Transcription by D. Geggus. 5


42 2.5 and 2.67 years. Also, African women experienced their first birth, on average, at 28.5 years old, while creoles had their first child on ly slightly earlier in life at about 27.22 years of age. Most mothers (57%) were in their twenties and a similar percentage were in their thirties. There were very few teenage mothers (ages 15 19), less than 10%, and no mother was older than 46. Fournier d 453. Such a high rate of reproductive success on this sugar plantation may indicate significant fertility advantages associated with thorough creolization of a slave community.


43 Figure 3 1 1750, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida. Used with permission from University of Florida Special Collection and Area Studies Library.


44 Table 3 1 Plantation overview (r esults ) Plantation Croptype Adult Sex Ratio Percentage of Mothers who are African Percentage of Mothers who are Creole Average Age of African Mothers at the Time of their First Birth Average Age of Creole Mothers at the Time of their First Birth Average Birth Sp acing for African Mothers Average Birth Spacing for Creole Mothers Gruel Coffee 2.4 50% 50% 22 19 3.75 3.3 Clment Coffee 1.48 100% 0% 22.55 NA 2.1 NA Clment/Baudu Coffee 1.33 50% 50% 25.25 14.25 4 2.47 Hamelin Coffee 0.96 66.67% 33.33% 23.14 25.09 3. 61 2.5 Labole Coffee 1.33 85.71% 14.29% 24.16 15 5.65 2.33 Carteau Coffee 7.5 100% 0% 16 NA 3 NA Claubry Coffee 1.88 33.33% 66.67% 41 24 NA 8.5 Dugas Coffee 1.17 62.50% 37.50% 21.4 17 2 5 Les Faurier Coffee 2.44 50.00% 50.00% 30.5 20.33 4.67 3 Moulin de Rcy Coffee 1 100.00% 0.00% 22 NA 3.5 NA Courtois Coffee 0.76 50.00% 50.00% 18 19.6 1.5 3.11 Oudart Coffee 1.6 100.00% 0.00% 27.5 NA NA NA de Sevr Coffee 1.12 50.00% 50.00% 23 22 8 NA Orlans Sugar 1.11 75% 25% 26.83 24 3.07 2.9 Fleuriau Sugar 1. 26 44.18% 41.86% 28.32 22.22 6.5 4.77 Grard Sugar 1.63 71.43% 28.57% 22.2 23.25 4.9 3 Peyrac Sugar 1.4 32.20% 67.80% 25.9 23.1 5.87 4.01 Bellevue Sugar 1.49 20.69% 79.31% 28.5 27.22 2.67 2.5 Adult Sex Ratio = number of males over the age of 14/ number of females over the age of 14 NA Not Available (there are no data to interpret)


45 CHAPTER 5 RESULTS Fertility Indexes Because of poor record keeping by planters and the colonial administration, little is known about the birth rates or death rates of Sai nt Domingue slaves. The fact that planters and managers rarely recorded miscarriages or the death of infants makes the topic of fertility especially difficult to tackle. The few demographic investigations of Saint Domingue slavery have therefore tended to use the fertility index as their main analytical tool, which is usually constructed as the ratio of children aged 0 4 years to the number of women aged 15 44. At the end of the colonial period, it appears that the fertility levels of slaves in Saint Domin gue were exceedingly low, especially in comparison to North American slave societies. One of the central findings of this study is the influence of croptype on fertility levels. 1 It is generally recognized by historians that sugar production was the most punishing form of slavery in the Americas. 2 This was mostly due to the heavy labor involved in planting and the breakneck pace at which sugar had to be harvested and processed, involving long hours of night work. In recent fertility studies on Saint Doming ue sugar estates it was concluded that the only variable correlating with fertility was that of work load, measured as the ratio of slaves to cane acreage. 3 The sugar plantations of Saint Domingue were some of the largest in the Americas at that time, 1 Plantation Society in the Americas 5 (1998): 189 2 See Stuart Schwartz, Sugar Plantations in the Formation of Brazilian Society, Bahia, 1550 1835 (New YorK: Cambridge University Press, 1985); Jennifer Morgan, Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004) 146 151; Bernard Moitt, Sugar, Slavery, and Society 3


46 and their relatively low slave cane ratio suggests a truly grueling labor regime. 4 The effects of overwork on sugar plantations were not experienced solely by male field laborers. By the late eighteenth century, it was typical for two thirds of agricultural la hardest work was done. 5 The intensive physical labor that slave women endured in the fields seems to have been enough to not only compromise their level of fecundity but als o place limits on their own life expectancy and that of their children. 6 In fact, the reason that so many infant deaths went undocumented was because of their extremely common occurrence. Demographer and historian Robert Fogel supposes that half of the chi ldren born to slave mothers in the Americas did not survive their first year. 7 Indisputably, conditions were better on the smaller highland coffee plantations. Coffee estates allowed for a lighter work regime, less restricted diet, and healthier epidemi ological conditions for slaves. 8 Though the gang system might also be employed on coffee plantations, the nature and pace of the agricultural work required of slaves was less fierce. 9 Also, because of its high altitude, life in the mountains was 4 Slave cane ratios may o ffer an insight into the work load of slaves in a given area. However they can prove unreliable when the ages of the plantations in question are dramatically different. The younger plantations in the west and south regions of Saint Domingue were still pion production was by far t he most grueling labor for Saint Domingue slaves. 5 Laboring Women 6 Morgan, Laboring Women the low fertility of Slave Populations of the British Caribbean 324 had been shown that slaves living on coffee plantations had significantly lower mortality rates than those 7 Foge l, Without Consent or Contract (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1989), 147. Births often went undocumented in ecclesiastical documents as well, as infants who did not survive until baptism were rarely recorded. 8 9 The invention of gang labor arrived first on sugar plantations and then made its way to coffee, rice, and cotton economies. See Fogel, Without Consent or Contract 26.


47 healthier for slaves who were exposed to fewer insect borne diseases. 10 Demographic studies of coffee plantations found only weak correlations between fertility and other factors. However, the strongest degree of correlation was found in a consideration of work force size. 11 This may reflect the difficulty of finding a suitable sexual partner out of average fewer than fifty slaves. Also, Africans who entered into the coffee plantation community were less likely to find others of the same ethnic or linguistic background; this may have added to the difficulty of their cultural assimilation and delayed or even prevented women from finding an appropriate sexual partner. 12 However, since Cari bbean plantations were never far apart, this was nowhere near as restrictive a factor as it was in North American slave societies. 13 Slave women on small coffee estates were in fact less likely to remain childless than women on large sugar plantations. Con sidering all of the above, it is perhaps surprising that the mean average fertility indexes so far revealed for Saint Domingue plantations during the second half of the eighteenth century do not, in fact, show a larger difference between coffee plantations (356) and sugar plantations (328). 14 The eighteen plantations examined in this thesis, though they constitute a very small sample size, reveal a more dramatic difference in fertility indexes. Overall, the slaves on the thirteen coffee plantations examine d displayed a fertility index of 428, and those on the five sugar plantations fared even 10 In addition to fewer diseases, slaves of t he coffee plantations had fewer accidental injuries due to the 11 Ibid., 91. 12 Ibid., 80. 13 Fogel, Without Consent or Contract 152. Saint Domingue slaves did find partners on other estates but such unions were less likely to be fertile because of diminished opportunities for intercourse. 14


48 worse, with a fertility index of 308. 15 While there are many factors that affect these statistics, the impact of work regime on reproductive success here seems beyond d oubt. The difference in fertility between the labor forces of sugar and coffee plantations would no doubt have been even greater if the impact of workload was not blunted by the competing influence of another factor: ethnicity. Some historians have argue d that the overwhelming influx of Africans to the colonies. 16 Confronting an unfamiliar disease higher death rates in the Americas than locally born slaves, and some evidence also suggests that they experienced lower rates of fertility. On the eve of the Haitian Revolution, African arrivals in Saint Domingue were at an all time high due to the boomi ng sugar and coffee industries. In fact, for nearly the entire second half of the eighteenth century 17 However, as Saint Domnigue coffee plantations were of much more recent creation than most of contained much smaller proportions of creole slaves than the long established sugar estates. Small bodies of data from Jamaica, collected by Craton, from Toba go, collected by Higman, and from Saint Domingue, collected by Geggus, suggest that those mothers who could be identified as creole seem to have been generally more fertile than their 15 This calculation does not include the fertility indexes of the Gruel and Les Faurier coffee plantations as they are ou tliers. If these outliers were included, the average fertility index for coffee plantations would be 593. 16 Craton, Searching for the Invisible Man 96. 17


49 African counterparts in nearly all age groups; there were fewer childles s creoles than Africans, and creole mothers had, on average, more children. 18 The reasons for dislocation, stress, and overcrowding during the transatlantic passage and the traumatic introduction to plantation life and work, may have resulted in low rates of ovulation, sexual intercourse, and conception. 19 en was 20 Additionally, the foreign epidemiological environment of the Americas may have made African women highly vulnerable to diseases or epidemics that could negatively affect their fecundity. 21 Historians have argued that because Africans were still undergoing the process of physical and cultural adaptation they were quite unlikely to give birth within their first five or ten years in the colony. 22 However, it is important to lity relative to that of creoles, because an unknown number of them had been in Saint Domingue only a short period of time. Hence, one of the aims of this paper is to use other measures of fertility to help clarify this issue. In this study, creoles, irres pective of croptype, exhibited an overall fertility index of 382, while Africans were less successful, displaying a lower fertility index of 303. 23 The 18 Craton, Searching for the Invisible Man 93 Slave Populations of the British Caribbean 158 160. 19 Craton, Searching for the Invisible Man 97. 20 Bush, Slave Women in Caribbean Society physical and emotional stress on e 138. 21 Common diseases in the Caribbean included syphilis and yaws, and epidemics such as smallpox and scarlet fever decimated black and white populations alike. 22 2. 23 See Table 4 1 for a summary of the fertility indexes from this study.


50 disparity in average fertility levels between creoles and Africans was thus smaller than that found betwe en coffee and sugar workers. Creoles on coffee plantations revealed a fa red better there, it was not by such a wide margin. Sugar plantation creoles displayed a fertility index of 337, while fertility indexes for Africans was as low as 257. These results imply that creoles on sugar estates had fewer children than Africans on c offee plantations, and that work regime trumped ethnicity as a determinant of fertility. Also, it seems that in the case of fertility indexes, the variable of ethnicity was far more important on coffee plantations than on sugar plantations. Finally, it is evident that the intense work regime of the sugar plantation affected creoles far more than Africans; the creoles involved in coffee production, whereas the disparity be coffee and sugar plantation was only around 100 points. Recently developed coffee plantations were most numerous in the western and southern regions of Saint Domingue, and often had the largest percentages of newly imported y oung African slaves. 24 Conversely, sugar estates further north were the most creolized plantations, as they were the oldest. Nonetheless, in a regional study of the than those of western or southern areas. 25 This is enlightening because women in the north were more likely to be creoles, who typically had more children than African born slaves. However, this advantage was more than canceled out by the heavier workload 24 For example, the coffee plantations of Clment, Hamelin, and de Sevr examined in this thesis. 25


51 enfor ced on northern sugar estates. Even when holding constant the factor of croptype, workload appears to have been more important than creolization as an influence on fertility. This is a testament to the incapacitating nature of large scale Caribbean sugar e conomies, and may explain why some historians have argued that it was nearly impossible for slave populations there to establish even a slight rate of natural increase. 26 Birth Spacing Birth spacing, though affected to an unknown degree by unrecorded instan ces of infant mortality, has emerged for historians as a central component in fertility analysis. The average time interval between successive births for mothers in the West Indies was exceedingly long, averaging about four years, whereas the North America n slave population experienced on average only about 2.9 years between births. 27 The explanation for this widely recognized demographic phenomenon is, at least in part, among other scholars, has found that inadequate nutrition may have yielded depressed fertility, effectively impairing female reproductive development, hindering recuperation in the event of pregnancy, and diminishing the likelihood of a second pregnancy. 28 He also speculates that the debilitating work regime of Caribbean sugar economies in particular, only intermittent fecundity and men and women alike suffered from general se xual 26 Cra ton, Searching for the Invisible Man 85. 27 Fogel, Without Consent or Contract Differentials between Slaves in the United States and the British West Indies: A Note on Lactation Practices and Their The William and Mary Quarterly Third Series, Vol. 35, No. 2 (Apr., 1978): 386. 28


52 apathy. 29 Demographers and historians Herbert Klein and Stanley Engerman have stressed the significance of cultural mores in explaining discrepancies in the birth spacing between North American and Caribbean slave societies. They argue that, since the parental conduct of slave mothers in the West Indies may have been influenced by foreign traditions that encouraged lengthy intervals between births, most notably prolonged l actation and postpartum abstinence. 30 West Africans in the late eighteenth century generally nursed their children for two to three years. They also strictly abided by sexual taboos which encouraged abstinence during nursing. 31 T hese practices were aimed at preventing infant mortality, a common fate of children immediately following their weaning in nutritionally deficient environments. 32 Indeed, African mothers in the West Indies would likely have continued this tradition with the same goal, as infant mortali ty was endemic in the challenging environment of the Caribbean. While Klein and Engerman proposed that the difference between North American and West Indian islands, their data did not differentiate between African and creole women in the West Indies, as this study does. 33 29 30 Given the limited contact with white society in the West Indies, and the higher concentra tions of blacks within larger plantation units, a stronger residue of cultural practices from Africa could have remained. 31 70. 32 Higman, Slave Populations of the British Caribbean, 354. 33 and the much higher rates of African participation within the total population in the West Indies, marked a strong contrast between the two areas. For ex ample, at about 1770 in the United States, the African born


53 According to the results of this study, African slaves in Saint Domingue exhibited significantly longer intervals between births than creole slaves Overall, the average birth spacing displayed by African mothers was 3.83 years while their creole counterparts averaged 3.43 years between births. The difference of .40 years (nearly five months) may be interpreted as miniscule, but it is statistically s ignificant, especially in comparison to the even more minute difference revealed between slaves of different croptypes. 34 Mothers on sugar plantations exhibited an average birth spacing of 3.73 years, while mothers on coffee plantations averaged 3.46 years between births; these averages reveal a difference of only .27 years (about three and a quarter months), one which is not statistically significant. 35 In the case of slave birth spacing trends it seems ntation was the most influential determinant. Since it is likely that diet was held relatively constant amongst Africans and creoles, at least at the plantation level, this trend cannot be explained solely by poor nutrition. And, since creole and African women alike conducted grueling labor in sugar 36 Cultural influences, specifically the retention of African nursing practices, may also have contributed to the differenc es between African and creole birth spacing. Like West 34 Richard Dunn, in his comparison of two plantation microcosms, discovered a similar differen ce in birth intervals between a large highly creolized Virginian plantation and a similarly large predominantly African plantation in Jamaica. The average Jamaican slave mother, if she had more than one child in her lifetime, birthed her children five mont 35 Statistical significance is determined in this case by a ten (or more) percent difference between data points. 36 Though creoles were less likely to labor in their fields due to their elevated social status, a majority of Africans (equal numbers of males and females), 10 creole men, and more than 1/3 youn


54 African women, African slaves in the West Indies were said to breastfeed their children for a minimum of twenty four months. 37 While it remains unclear if African mothers in the Caribbean practiced stri ct sexual abstinence during their two years of breastfeeding, a social norm in contemporary West Africa, it seems that continued lactation was itself an effective contraceptive. 38 Therefore, for either physiological or social reasons, those slaves who cont inued to practice prolonged lactation were unlikely to become pregnant in the years immediately following childbirth, resulting in comparatively longer intervals between births. 39 Creoles, having been raised locally rather than in Africa, may have been les s likely to adopt this practice, especially as it was opposed by plantation sometimes provided incentives to mothers who breastfed and properly cared for their young during the ir first years of life, the African practice of extended suckling was seen as unnatural and, importantly, interfering with plantation productivity. Women who nursed their children for extended periods were often reluctant to return to the plantation work r egime and resisted separation from their babies; these, of course, were highly rational responses to the typically high infant mortality rates that most plantations exhibited. 40 But the strict labor schedule of the plantation would always remain the priori ty for planters, even those who worried about the long term viability of their labor force. In addition to exhibiting longer birth spacing patterns, slave women in the Caribbean had smaller families than those in North America. An average enslaved 37 Higman, Slave Population of the British Caribbean 353. 38 It is now medically recognized that lactation is an effective contraceptive. 39 Ibid. 40 Bush, Slave Women in Caribbean Society 12 7.


55 mother in the United States who lived to age 49 had about 9.2 children. 41 In contrast, in Trinidad women appeared to have averaged only 2.4 live births in a lifetime, and in Jamaica mothers had fewer than half as many children as their North American counterparts 42 Like its Caribbean neighbors, Saint Domingue was characterized by small family units. Though this study cannot reveal lifetime fertility patterns, it does show that Saint Domingue mothers averaged between 1.8 and 2 children each, with those on coffee p lantations having slightly more children, on average, than those on sugar plantations. 43 While the birth spacing of Caribbean mothers was surely a contributor to this demographic contrast, historians have also suggested that the window of fertility for thes e mothers may have been significantly more abbreviated than that of their healthier North American neighbors as the great majority of them were brought from Africa during their earliest childbearing years. Fertility and Age It is speculated that slave wom en in the Caribbean had a dramatically reduced fertility span in the course of their lifetime, particularly in comparison to contemporaneous slaves in the United States. This has been attributed mostly to a later age of puberty, as West Indian slaves tende d to have their first child later in life. 44 Slave mothers in the United States, on average, had their first child around 22 years old. 45 In contrast, the mean age at first birth results of this study indicate that Saint Domingue 41 Fogel, Without Consent or Contract 149 42 43 Due to the nature of the plantation sources consulted, there is no lifetime data available for this study. 44 While it has also been implied by a few historians t hat Caribbean slaves may have suffered from an early onset of menopause, as many had their final child at a relatively early age, this aspect of slave fertility is not explored within this thesis due in part to the limitations of the plantation samples. 45 Fogel and Engerman, Time on the Cross 137 138.


56 mothers experienced the birt h of their first child after 23 years of age. 46 Additionally, a large number North American slave mothers gave birth in their twenties. 47 It seems that Saint Domingue slaves experienced a later peak in fecundity, as the largest percentage of their births oc curred between ages 25 and 34. Instances of late onset and peak of fecundity, as this thesis will suggest, seems to be most abundant on Saint Domingue sugar estates. Slave mothers on Saint Domingue sugar plantations, between the ages of 15 and 39, experi enced their first recorded birth at 23.18 years old. 48 This is rather late, particularly in comparison to the average age when slave mothers on Saint Domingue coffee plantations had their first children; they were typically mothers by age 20. 49 Nearly half o f all births on the five sugar plantations sampled were experienced by mothers be tween the ages of 25 and 34 ( Figure 5 2 ). In contrast, only a little over 30% of children born on coffee plantations were born to women between the ages of 25 and 34; rath er, up to half of all births could be attributed to younger mothers who gave birth bet ween 15 and 24 years of age ( Figure 5 2). In fact, while the peak age for giving birth on sugar plantations was 25, for mothers on coffee plantations it was at least f ive years earlier at age 20 ( Figure 5 2). This trend is confirmed by Saint Domingue historian 46 plantation entered into her first successful pregnancy more than a year later than the average U.S. mothe their first birth omit any data for children over 17 years of age in an attempt to correct for the presence of outliers. 47 Ibid. 48 In all cases where a ferti lity trend is displayed by slave women between the ages of 15 and 39, the same trend can be confirmed by a larger pool of women, those aged 15 to 49. However, the smaller sample of women, those between 15 and 39, is used throughout this paper in order to m inimize the effect of outliers that the oldest women of plantations can sometimes contribute. 49 Though the average age of mothers on coffee plantations is somewhat younger than the average age of mothers on sugar plantations in these plantation samples (f or the most part this is due to the great number of young Africans in the highland workforce), the trends noted in this study are consistent across the axes of both ethnicity and croptype, and are significant enough to deserve analysis.


57 50 It has been speculated by Geggus that early pregnancy, on both coffee and sugar estates, was somewhat related to miscegenation, as white or mulatto men fathered 20% of the children born to women under the age of 20 on coffee estates and 25% of those on sugar estates. 51 Likewise, Richard Dunn noted that more than half of the babies produced by mothers under the age of seventeen on a large Jamaican sugar estate were mulattos. 52 Yet, examples of unions between young African women and white men are so scarce that if mixed ra ce relations are implicated in early pregnancies it is only in the case of creoles. 53 multre children, all but two were of creole background, and in every instance the birth occurred before mothers reached th e age of 20. In fact, most (83%) of these mixed race babies represented first births for mothers, some as young as 13 and 14 years old, the youngest of whom labored on coffee plantations. The central reason behind the presence of relatively young mothers o n coffee plantations may be explained by their comparatively better work regime, diet, and disease environment. In contrast, the physiological afflictions associated with Saint Domingue sugar production erected barriers to entry into motherhood for slave w omen. Interestingly, instances of miscegenation identified in this study were overwhelmingly more common on the highland coffee plantations. This trend can, perhaps, be accounted for by the fact that 50 51 Ibid., 93. Miscegenation refers to the mixing, in this case, of different racial groups. The children resulting from the union of parents of different races, more specifically between a white and a black multre he French Caribbean. Here they are referred to as mulatto. 52 53


5 8 these newer frontier regions were more isolated and inti mate communities where white planter families resided, unlike the more typical absenteeism of Saint Domingue sugar estates, and day to day contact between whites and slaves was more typical. Although the counterpart scenario of the large sugar plantation w ith its staff of European bachelors might also point to opportunities for sexual interaction between slave women and white plantations employees, the five sugar plantations examined here indicate that racially mixed unions were not necessarily more common in the diverse and densely populated plains environment. plantation life affected African women considerably more than creoles in Saint Domingue. Evidence from sugar plantation s suggests that the low fertility of African women may have been largely due to delayed puberty and therefore a shorter span of fecundity. 54 This is revealed in the fact that the average age at which African mothers, between 15 and 39, on sugar plantations experienced their first birth was 23.44 years old, slightly older than creoles on sugar plantations who typically had their first child at closer to 23 years of age. Similarly, the most recorded births for creole mothers on sugar plantations occurred at 21 years of age, while Africans did not reach their peak number of births until age 25 ( Figure 5 4 ). On both sugar and coffee plantations African process, were less healthy than their creole counterparts for the entirety of their lives. This may be why the greatest number of births for African mothers on coffee plantations at least a year earl ier at 20 years old ( Figure 5 3). Not distinguishing croptype, nearly 54 Ibid.


59 40% of all African births in this study occurred between the ages of 25 and 34, while a similar proportion (about 46%) of creole births occurred between t he ages of 15 and 24 ( Fi gure 5 1). In general, it seems that creoles on coffee plantations had the longest span of fertility, and this may be a key reason why they were the most successful slave mothers in Saint Domingue slave society. Distribution of Mothers T able 5 3 presents t he distribution of Saint Domingue slave women identified as mothers in the inventories consulted distinguishing age, ethnicity, and croptype. Arguably, these data represent the most significant results of this study because, unlike most of the conclusions already discussed, they are independent of the age structure of the plantation samples, ensuring their reliability. Overall, these results confirm the findings presented thus far and are further reinforced by their close alignment with the most current dat a on Saint Domingue fertility. 55 Low fertility can be expressed in three achievement of menarche or early onset of menopause), protracted spaces between successful birth s, and finally, complete sterility. The former two aspects of fertility have already been discussed here. However, the data above provides new insight concerning the third and final measure of fertility childlessness. According to the results of this s tudy, women of African descent on coffee and sugar plantations were more often childless than their creole counterparts in almost every age group as well as in the overall sample. 56 These statistics align with the fertility ratio trends previously discussed indicating that, though African women exhibited 55 Ibid. 56 anomal ous segment of the female population as it is constructed from a relatively small sample size.


60 longer birthspacing intervals, they were also less often mothers. In addition, it seems that, overall, a larger proportion of women on coffee plantations had children than those on sugar plantations. More s pecifically, this trend holds true for most women in this study under the age of 40, a substantial portion of the female population. 57 It seems clear that the preferable environment for African and creole slave mothers was the coffee plantation; slave women on small estates, despite their limited choice of sexual partners, were less likely to remain childless than women on big plantations. As might be expected, the largest percentage of mothers identified was creoles on coffee plantations in their 20s and the second largest was the same group in their 30s, though African women in their 30s exhibited a similarly impressive percentage. In contrast, the least likely women to become mothers were Africans younger than 20 years old N otably, not even one mother b etween the age of 15 and 19 on any of the five sugar plantations was African and less than 15% of African women in their teens on coffee plantations were identified as mothers Young African mothers were in short supply throughout the Caribbean as they we re more vulnerable than second generation slaves to disease, had recently endured the hazardous middle passage, were perhaps less willing to be sexually active in a new and traumatic environment and, of course, had likely spent very little time (perhaps j ust a few years or even a few months) in the colony 58 As in the instance of slave fertility indexes, croptype remains a critical determinant in the distribution of slave mothers; the percentage of creole mothers on sugar 57 The exception to this is the group of Africans women in their 20s; there were about 5% more mothers on sugar plantations in this age group. 58 Philip Curtin als major source of slaves the poor nutritional history of African slave women may have resulted in sporadic bouts of, or even permanent, infertility. See Morissey, Slave W omen 110.


61 plantations, though greater than t hat of their African counterparts, did not surpass the percentage of mothers from either ethnic group on coffee plantations. However, ethnicity also seems to be a key factor in determining who experienced motherhood, especially for women in their 20s and 3 0s; creole women on coffee plantations in their 20s were more than twice as likely as their African counterparts to be mothers and those in their 30s on sugar plantations were about one and half times more likely. These results also imply, overall, that wo rk regime affected African mothers only slightly more than creoles, and ethnicity was a more important factor for mothers on sugar plantations. However, such results are in direct opposition to the fertility index trends specified ea rlier in this paper (se e page 49 ) and thereby confound any conclusions that might have been deduced concerning associations of fertility across ethnicity and croptype. 59 59 On page 4 9


62 Table 5 1. Fertility indexes Sugar Plantations Coffee Plantations Total Creoles 337 662 382 Africans 2 57 364 303 Total 308 428 Table 5 2. Average a ge at which mothers (15 39) e xperienced their first b irth Coffee Sugar African 21.19 23.44 Creole 19.45 23.07 Overall 20.44 23.18 Table 5 3. Percentage of women designated as m others by a ge and c r optype Overall Coffee Sugar 41.1% 37.32% Age Bands Africans Creoles Africans Creoles 15 19 14.3 26.9 0.0 17.5 20's 31.0 66.7 35.5 41.5 30's 54.0 58.4 36.4 57.4 40's 41.4 40.0 50.0 45.2 50's 33.3 40.0 34.8 42.9 Overall 43.4 45.6 38.2 42.2 NB: Th e percentages for coffee plantations are derived from relatively small sample sizes, particularly those of creoles who are over the age of 30.


63 Figure 5 1. Number of African and creole b irths by m a ges Figure 5 2. Number of births on coffee and sugar plantations by m a ges


64 Figure 5 3. Number of African and creole b irths on c offee p lantations by m a ges Figure 5 4 Number of African and c reole b irths on s ugar ges


65 CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION At the moment of the Haitian Revolution Saint Domingue fertility levels were women endured compromised their health so that the achievement of motherhood was difficult and the birthing of multiple children unlikely. This thesis has established that croptype, and its divergent work regimes, was the most central determinant of slave ferti lity. Women in the economically vibrant plains region suffered from generally poor fertility that was apparently due to delayed reproductive development and intermittent fecundity within their lifetime. There was a substantially smaller percentage of moth ers identified on sugar plantations in almost every age group compared to that of coffee plantations, and these mothers had their first children several years later in life. However, the competing influence of ethnicity further complicates this picture o f slave fertility. The majority of slaves in Saint Domingue were Africans who had recently experienced dislocation, malnutrition, disease, and abuse as well as psychological trauma. Slaves born in the colony were healthier, having already adjusted to the c often dominated the less labor intensive positions of a plantation, and were more likely to benefit from relations with white men, especially those younger than 20 years old. For all these reasons African slaves displayed extremely high sterility rates in comparison to locally born creoles. Also, African mothers on both coffee and sugar plantations were comparatively older than creoles, on average, giving birth to most of their children at a later stage in life, and their efforts to abide by West African nursing customs resulted in longer intervals between their births. However, it may be emphasized that though there


66 was a larger percentage of Africans in the Saint Domingu e highlands, the fertility rate and total percentage of mothers there exceeded that of the plains. This demonstrates the primacy of work regime as an influence on fertility and implies that its impact on oubt. Behind the seemingly sterile faade of statistics and numbers presented here lies a meaningful historical reality experienced by hundreds of thousands of enslaved labo r force by the second half of the eighteenth century, drove the highly profitable and its history seems to indicate that its economic success came at a devastating social and biological price for slave women. In addition to the exhausting labor regime and sociocultural (as well as personal) violence endured by this population of slave women most also faced the physical and psychological hardship of reduced fertility, late and sporadic fecundity, frequent miscarriages and infant deaths, and in many cases complete sterility. While we can glean from the data presented here numerous cases of pe rsonal triumph in those women who were able to generate families amidst the cruel and unforgiving environment of Caribbean slavery, it seems that reproductive success was much more likely for the smaller proportion of locally born slaves who escaped workin domestic servitude. Of course, some of these families represent the living embodiment and sociological consequences of the plantation violence which many enslaved women regular ly encountered while at work. The results of this study reveal a story of both


67 social and biological struggle, one that does not end with the legendary slave revolt of 1791. The women represented here, the great majority of whom were born in Africa, produc ed the first generation of independent Haitians. They and their families, who would go on in the following decades to experience the disturbance and violence of revolution and civil war, carried the legacy of slavery (in body and in mind) into the next cha pter of Haitian history.


68 LIST OF REFERENCES Primary Sources : Carteau mer, Aix en Provence, SDOM867, inventory, 22 July 1787. Photocopy. Claubry mer, Aix en Provence, SDOM 866, 15 November 1785. Photocopy. Clment University of Florida, Special Collections, Jrmie Papers, 9 27A, inventory, 1792. Clment/Baudu mer, Aix en Provence, SDOM869, inventory, 22 March 1788. Photocopy. Courtois ANOM, Aix en Provence, SDOM 789, inventory, 15 June 1787. de Sevr. ANOM, Aix en Provence, SDOM 868, inventory, 18 September, 1787. Archives nationales, Paris. 300 AP I 144, inventory of January 1779. Transcription by D. Geggus. Dugas ANOM, Aix en Provence, SDOM 1396, inventory, July 1780. Fleuriau Jacques Cauna. "Une habitation coloniale la fin du XVIIIe sicle." Thse de 3me cycle, Universit de Poitiers, 1983. Fournier de Bellevue mer, Aix en Provence, Notariat de Saint Domingue 1388, inventory, 3 February 17 83. Transcription by D. Geggus. Grard mer, Aix en Provence, 92APC/5/16, inventory, 11 April 1789. Transcription by D. Geggus. Gruel ANOM, Aix en Provence, SDOM 1185, inventory, 7 May 1788. Hamelin/Du casse University of Florida, Special Collections, Jrmie Papers, 6A 3, inventory, 25 January 1780. Labole Public Record Office, London, HCA 30/280, inventory, 20 June 1778. Photocopy. Les Faurier ANOM, Aix en Provence, SDOM 290, inventory, 5 Septem ber, 1786 Moulin de Rcy ANOM, Aix en Provence, SDOM 865, inventory, 11 July 1778. Oudart ANOM, Aix en Provence, SDOM 788, 26 June 1786.


69 Peyrac Photocopy. Secondary Sources : Bush, Barbara. Slave Women in Caribbean Society, 1650 1838 Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1990. Campbell, Gwyn, Suzanne Miers, and Joseph C. Miller, eds. Women and Slavery: The Modern Atlantic. Vol.2. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2008. The William and Mary Quarterly third series, vol. 35, no. 2 (Apr., 1978): 324 356. Craton, Michael. Searching for the Invisible Man: Slaves and Plantation Life in Jamaica Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978. The William and Mary Quarterly third series vol. 34, no. 1 (Jan., 1977): 32 65. Fogel, Robert. Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery New York : W.W. Norton and Company, 1989. Fogel, Ro bert W. and Stanley L. Engerman Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro S lavery Boston MA : Little, Brown and Company, 1974. Social Science History 6, no. 4 (Autumn, 1982): 482 515 The World of the Haitian Revol ution ed David P. Geggus and Norman Fiering, 3 20. Indianapolis : Indiana University Press, 2009. ored Women in Saint Domingue. I n More Than Chattel: Black Women and Slavery in the Americas ed. David Barry Gaspar and Da rlene Clark Hine Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1996. the Revolution of 1791 Slavery & Abolition 20, no.2 (1999): 31 46. fee Cultivation in Saint Domingue and the Shaping of the Slave Labor For ce." In Cultivation and Culture : Labor and the Shaping of Slave Life in the Americas ed. Ira Berlin and Philip D. Morgan Charlottesville : University Press of Virginia, 1993.


70 Genovese, Eugene D. Roll Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made New York: Vintage Books, 1972. Hall, Douglas. In Miserable Slavery : Thomas Thistlewood in Jamaica, 1750 1786 Kingston, Jamaica : The University of the West Indies Press, 1999. Higman, B. W. Slave Populations of the British Caribbean, 1807 1834 Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984. Klein, Her bert S. and Stanley L. Engerman United States and the British West Indies: A Note on La ctation Practices and Their The William and Mary Quarterly third series, vol. 35, no. 2 (Apr., 1978): 357 374. A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida. Moitt, Bernard, ed. Sugar, Slavery, and Society: Perspectives in the Caribbean, India, the Mascarenes, and the United States Gainesville, FL: The University Press of Florida, 2004. Morgan, Jennifer. Labori ng Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004. Morrissey, Marietta. Slave Women in the New World: Gender Stratification in the Caribbean Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1989. Schwartz, The Americas 39, no. 1 (July, 1982): 1 22. Schwartz, Stuart. Sugar Plantations in the Formation of Brazilian Society: Bahia, 1550 1835 Cambridge MA : Cambridge Univ. Press, 1986. Walvin, James. Questioning Slavery New York: Routledge, 1996.


71 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Rachel Walton is a t hird year PhD student in the History Department at the and her master degree in the S pring of 2012 S he was born in 1987 in Irvine, California, a nd has spent the majority of her life in Jacksonville, Florida with her two loving parents and younger sister. Her academic interests include the history of slavery and race relations, the history of women and gender, and, more generally, the history of Latin America and the Caribbean.