The Plantation Machine
Publication Date: 2016-05-24
Jamaica and Saint-Domingue were especially brutal but conspicuously successful eighteenth-century slave societies and imperial colonies. These plantation regimes were, to adopt a metaphor of the era, complex "machines," finely tuned over time by planters, merchants, and officials to become more efficient at exploiting their enslaved workers and serving their empires. Burnard and Garrigus find deep and unexpected similarities in these two prize colonies of empires that fought each other throughout the period. Events of that period, notably a slave poisoning scare in Saint-Domingue and a near-simultaneous slave revolt in Jamaica, cemented white dominance in both colonies. Burnard and Garrigus argue that local political concerns, not emerging racial ideologies, explain the rise of distinctive forms of racism in these two societies. By the 1780s whites in each place were prospering as never before--and blacks were suffering in new and disturbing ways.