Campbell, John F.
'Always free': West African continuities and the limits to enslavement on 18th century atlantic world sugar plantations
HUAN: the Electronic Journal
Argues that the legalisation of the trade for imported African 'slaves' in 1549 set the tone for the mode and type of labour production that was to dominate the sugar plantations of the Atlantic World until 1838. Sugar plantation colonies, like Jamaica, under this official directive were quickly transformed into production enclaves dominated by the ‘slave mode’ of production. In this mode 'freedom' was a dangerous word, because it brought to the fore the cries of the labour force and worked against the profit-maximizing ends of the white plantation management. Planters felt that all the time of the enslaved should be spent in the profit-maximizing thrust of white plantation management. Concludes that the phrase 'always free' includes a number of supporting issues not specifically dealt with in this study. It referenced the slaves who never subjected themselves to the plantation, but ran off and enjoyed a precarious freedom in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica as early as the end of the seventeenth century. It also referenced slaves who committed suicide because of African cosmology that taught that death freed the African spirit and allowed it to return to the land of its birth. Ultimately, 'always free' referenced the millions who never accepted 'chattel' status as intended by the Caribbean plantocracy and, in our day, challenges contemporary historians to also recognize their voices.....