Caribbean Slavery Essay

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Caribbean Slavery

Starting in the seventeenth century, the European colonization of the Caribbean changed drastically as exploration gave way to exploitation. As the great wealth that the Caribbean held became more evident to the European colonizers, a rush of profit hunters stormed the area and flooded it with slavery. The massive introduction of slavery as the major form of labor organization in the Caribbean changed social organization radically. The plantation system thrived and expanded through the following years (centuries), and the Caribbean became the focus of American slave centers, "The planters of the Caribbean bought about sixty percent of all the slaves sold to the Americas between 1701 and 1810 (Knight, p112)." Franklin
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The free coloured people became a third party in a system built for two (Sio, p 150).

An interesting point that this article demonstrates is that, for the most part, a two-tier system of society was in place in the Caribbean. The rule known as the "the one drop rule", places you in a group defined very specifically based on your biological background. This placed free coloured people in an awkward limbo. Later on in the history of race relations in the Americas, a multi-tier system of many stratifications and degrees developed in the majority of the areas, with Cuba and the United States clinging to the two-tier system.

The maroons and the buccaneers were other groups that strayed from the norm in slave societies. The maroons and buccaneers conjure up romantic images of free men living exciting lives in the minds of many people, but even as the most successful alternative to the normal society, they were never secure in their wellbeing (Knight, p 90). While their general health and quality of living far surpassed that of the slaves, disease, malnutrition, and threats of attacks were always significant worries for these types of groups.

Monica Schuler mentions another fascinating aspect of Caribbean slave societies in her article entitled, "Akan Slave Rebellions in the British Caribbean". The resistance put forth by Africans began, in many cases, on the boats in which they were being transported. With tactics such as
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