Stedman's Surinam Essay

914 Words Nov 28th, 2012 4 Pages
John Stedman provided one of the most detailed and descriptive accounts ever recorded in history about a thriving slave society. The society which he wrote so much about was Surinam. Located on the northwest corner of Brazil, Stedman was sent to Surinam from the Netherlands to help put down a slave revolt that was threatening the existence of the colony. Throughout his stay Stedman wrote about all that he saw. One thing that became a focus of his writings was the issue of slavery. He wrote about specific slaves and Negros he came in contact with, the perception that others had of these people, the treatment of these slaves and the rising tensions and conflicts between the revolting slaves and the colonists. At times he would write in a …show more content…
Still loyal to their master and still required to work the land, these servants would provide the colony a way to receive all of the benefits that arose from slavery, while getting rid of the most inhumane part and minimizing the chances for further rebellions. The economic dependence the colonies existence had on the slaves was another reason Stedman was not an abolitionist. Surinam was dependent on the slaves because the economy of Surinam relied on crops such as sugar and tobacco that were grown on large plantations manned by slaves. These African slaves were the only men who could work these fields. Stedman in describing the differences between Africans and the white man said Africans were more physically fit and their dark skin, resulting from the climate in their home land of Africa, allowed them to more easily work in the harsh environment and climate that Stedman faced. If slavery were abolished the economy of the colony would collapse. Not only would it be hard to get the white man to work these fields, Stedman explains that the Negro as a free man would be “ten times sooner be employed in dancing, drinking and catching fish, or killing a boar or jaguar, than in planting” (Stedman, 93) Due to the lack of labor Surinam would be “forced to go to foreign markets and buy at double price” (Stedman, 92) and they would no longer have their main cash crops thus cutting a majority of the colonies revenue. Through Stedman’s writings it can be assumed that

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