Post #5: Slavery in The West Indies

Initially indentured servants were the inhabitants of Barbados in the West Indies, but as sugar became an increasingly profitable crop, African slaves were needed to create a more powerful force of labor. Since fewer servants were willing to perform the especially difficult and dangerous tasks required in the West Indies, the market for African slaves boomed. Without a choice in the matter, African slaves could be bought and sold with very little or no rights at all and forced to work to the whim of their masters. The distinct dark color of the African slaves was important because they were easily distinguishable from Englishmen. Due to this distinct color difference, the elite whites used the strong differentiation to their advantage by oppressing black slaves and stripping them of any rights and freedoms in order to promote collective white superiority of the rich and poor thereby avoiding further rebellions. Interestingly, slaves would be rewarded for warning their masters of a misbehaving slave. This was devised by the elite to encourage subordination and division of the slaves. The Englishmen differed from the Spanish, French, and Portuguese, because of their complete refusal of evangelism. The Englishmen saw the conversion of slaves to Christianity as extraordinarily inconvenient. Conversion would mean that the slaves would need to be treated as more than beasts. All of these facts of slavery in the West Indies contributed to the incredible booming success of the trade of sugar by the colonies. Thereby success for the colonies came at a high price for the slaves.


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