Slave Population and Economy in Jamaica, 1807-1834

Slave Population and Economy in Jamaica, 1807-1834

Slave Population and Economy in Jamaica, 1807-1834

Slave Population and Economy in Jamaica, 1807-1834

Synopsis

"First published in 1976 (see HLAS 40:2983), work is a masterful analysis of the dynamics of slave labor in the economic growth of early-19th-century Jamaica. Discusses various characteristics of slave and free-colored population including mortality, birth rates, manumission, distribution, and structure, as well as jobs performed on island as a whole. Contains excellent statistical tables and new introduction by author"--Handbook of Latin American Studies, v. 58.

Excerpt

Although recognizing the existence of the Slave Registration and Compensation Records, the bibliographer of the second volume of the Cambridge History of the British Empire, published in 1940, felt confident in commenting that 'these records are very detailed, but are disappointing in their content of historical material'. The analysis of the slave population of Jamaica presented in this book is based on but a fraction of the material contained in that series. This reassessment of the importance of the Slave Registration and Compensation Records stems from the fact that the political aspects of slavery and its abolition now attract less attention than the nature of slavery and its impact on individuals and populations, and from the application of new techniques to the analysis of demographic data. In this book an attempt is made to outline the structure of the slave population of Jamaica in the years between the abolition of the slave trade and emancipation, and its interrelationships with the plantation economy founded on the manipulation of slave labour. Because these economic-demographic interrelations were so closely bound, it is difficult to decide whether an analysis of them should begin with the economy or the population. Here the economy is discussed first, in order to describe the context within which the slaves moved and had their being. But it is an aim of the work to show that, in the period 1807-34, demographic change had a significant impact on the economy. The focus is strictly on the plantation economy as a system operated for the benefit of the masters, and on the slave population as a labour force manipulated towards that end. To this extent the perspective is, inevitably, that of the masters rather than that of the slaves. The economic life of the slaves, and the social history of slavery are discussed only in so far as they touch on this central theme. But it should be obvious that the demographic patterns established here have important implications for the wider understanding of slave society.

The core of this book is a Ph.D. thesis in history presented to the University of the West Indies in 1970. That thesis was based entirely on Jamaican sources, but I have since had the opportunity of making use of the complementary materials available in the United Kingdom and to explore the archives of the other West Indian territories, as well as undertaking additional research in the Jamaican archives. This work has been supported generously by the Government of Jamaica, the University of the West Indies, the Leverhulme Trust, and the Research Institute for the Study of Man. For their critiques of the work, and parts of it, in various stages of preparation, I thank Roy Augier, Edward Brathwaite . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.