CXC HISTORY SCHOOL BASED ASSESSMENT
Name : Lyndon Curtis
School: Ardenne High School
Teacher: Mrs. Adams-Robinson
Candidate#: Proficiency: General
Table of contents
AcknowledgementI would mostly like to thank Ms. Jacqueline Logan for her continuous support during the process of this project, and for helping me through sickness and health, day and night to ensure that this was completed at an optimum level by helping me to properly source my information. I would also like to thank Mrs. Adams-Robinson, history teacher who ensured that I class always understood what was to be done in order to achieve full marks in this History project and for motivating me to pull my load and do my best. Most of all, I would like to thank father God for allowing me to have faith in myself and guiding me from start to finish.
Theme 2: Caribbean Economy and Slavery.
Were females on the plantation seen inferior because of their gender or duties on the British West Indian plantation in the 17th to 18th century?
Describe the living conditions and the duties that females had to perform in the great houses.
Differentiate the roles of women to that of the men on the sugar plantation.
Explain the importance of female slaves to that of the male slaves on the sugar plantation.
Rationale Females on the plantation were treated inferior on the 17th to 18th century sugar plantation. They were given minor roles that didn’t impact the plantation even if they were qualified but rather roles that determine the welfare of the plantation owner and his household. Women were in charge of cooking, cleaning, sewing and other jobs to ensure the planter’s family is comfortable. Women weren’t allowed to be artisans, who were skilled slaves, not because the weren’t qualified but rather because females were not trusted with any important roles on the sugar plantation.
Women were treated very indifferent by their slave masters simply because they were of the opposite sex. It is therefore safe to say that these current situations of female abuse have been passed down from past times to present day. Many of society’s women live under judgement just because of their gender. They were viewed as only a means to satisfy sexual desires and to complete domestic work back then.
Women who worked in the great house laboured for a long period of time, they were always to last to sleep and expected to be the first to rise and in some cases got no sleep. Some of the most beautiful black women were placed in the great so they can grant the planter sexual favours . The females who worked in the field had it very hard because they had to work no matter the weather, even if the slave was sick or pregnant she was still expected to work in the fields on the fields on the plantation.
The reasons I Chose this topic is to gain a greater understanding of gender role on the plantation in terms of how jobs of female and male slaves differ. It is also my intention to analyze how the treatment of female slaves on the plantation is applicable to the 21st century life of females. As a young man who really admires females I have a personal interest in this topic, therefore exploring this topic provides a historical context to my curiosity.
I wrote this assignment because there is nothing I love more than women and it hurts my soul seeing them get hurt In conclusion, upon completion of this school based assessment it is expected the reader be able to see how women were treated unjust by their master. Explain all the challenges women working in the great house faced and be able explain the importance of women on the plantation
IntroductionThe term inferior is can be used as a noun or an adjective and is defined as being lower in rank to another. Black women on the plantation were treated unjust and unfairly because of both their race and gender. Women both then and now are at disadvantage because of their gender and sometimes miss out on major opportunities just because of their gender.
Present day, the most skilled and top supervisory jobs went to men, never to a woman. The great houses had some of the skillful women as workers and those who were skilled in sewing and nursing had to be present to fix any damaged clothing or deal with the sick rather than given a position as a tailor or garment maker. In the towns, most of these women were given small, but just as important roles. Many of them worked as shopkeepers and even prostitutes. The money made by these women were not their own, it belonged to the slave master who used the women as a source of income making them more of an asset than a human being.
It was stated that 90 per cent of all slaves worked, the other 10 per cent included the mentally challenged, very young and infirm, meaning weak from old age or illness as defined by the Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus. Meaning even pregnant women, feeling weak and tired, had to participate in the labours on the plantation according to Emancipation to Immigration, this is very harsh and inhumane.
Women working in the Great House
On The 17th to 18th Century plantation there were three categories of slaves. The highest category being artisans and following were the domestic slaves who were women who worked in the Great house. Domestic slaves possessed certain skills and traits but because of their gender were not permitted to be artisans so were placed in the Great House. As a woman working in the Great House you are expected to be skilled in food and nutrition along with clothing and textile and even medicine because they were responsible for stitchery of different articles of clothing, preparation of meals, cleaning or distribution of medication. The life of domestic slaves was never easy,it was often assumed that working in the Great House was a privilege and they were given easy work in comparison to that of the field slaves. This was not so because domestic slaves had longer work hours and constant and varying jobs and have very long work hours; they had to be the last to sleep at night and first to rise in the mornings and in some cases got no sleep at all because a member of the family may go to bed extremely late and another member may rise early in the mornings. The women in the great house were subjected to rape by the planter and oppression by the planter’s spouse even though their husband were in the wrong. Life of a domestic slave was anything but easy.
The domestic slaves prepared meals and we’re responsible for the taste, presentation, nutrition factors and safety of it, these meals was presented to the family of the great house. These slaves were watched very closely while they prepared the meals. This meant that the smallest violation would subject them to field work. The slaves were treated worse than animals for they weren’t even allowed leftovers, spit in the leftover scraps so that the slaves would be reluctant to eat. The women were abused physically and mentally either by their master or by his wife. If the master saw any slave as attractive his aim was to have sex with her by force. These slaves had no choice but to comply. Some of these wives saw these attractive slaves as a threat to their marriage. The irony about this situation is that the wife would have defended her husband even though he is to be blamed. The wife would always blame the female slave for seducing her husband and send her out to the field.
Domestic slaves’ work hours were extremely long, especially for the slaves who were responsible for cleaning the Great House, and none of the slaves could go to bed unless every single member of the master’s family went to sleep and were expected to be the first ones to rise in the mornings. There only one positive role that the women were forced to do and they might have enjoyed. This was helping to raise the children of the master and their wife.
Slaves would nurture the babies and made sure that all demands were met so that the babies were well taken care of and always comfortable. This factor of domestic work could have given some of the female slaves who were mothers once some feeling of comfort. During their capture, their children would probably have been taken away from them and the chances of that mother ever seeing her son or daughter again was unlikely. Some slaves would have found joy in raising a baby because it would have reminded them of the times when they had to raise their own child. The roles these females played on the plantation affected their treatment.
Life for a female slave was extremely hard on the plantation. Some of the female slaves were only seen as tools to be submissive whenever they were called upon by their masters, or by any other white occupant of the great house. They had no choice because they would face great brutality. None of these requests were positive to the women; however it was very pleasing to the planters. For the female slaves that possessed certain strengths such as sewing or any other nanny related duties were sent to work in the great houses.
Field slaves saw the domestic slaves as very lucky but that is a great deception because they have longer hours and are raped and hated by the household the work hours that the domestic slave had to complete could be seen as being equal to working on the field; especially if you worked in the kitchen. For fear of poisoning the master and his family, the slave chefs were watched very keenly with no room for error. The slaves did not even get to enjoy the scraps left behind because of contamination.
The living conditions for these enslaved women were worse than various animals. Domestic slaves wore better clothes. Some of the field slaves were either half naked or wore torn clothes. The domestic slaves were the last set of people to go to bed as they had to ensure that the needs of all the white occupants were already dealt with before dowsing off, they were also to watch as all the occupants of the house go to sleep and sometimes the white occupant would spiteful stay up late hours so the domestic slaves would get no rest and in often cases went to without sleep.
There was only one role in which they would have made sure that they would never make a mistake, and it was the responsibility of taking care of the master and his wife’s child. If the slave was already a mother, she might see some qualities in the master’s baby that was in her child and would nurture the child as if it were their own. The planter’s spouse was responsible for hospitality when it came on to the planter’s guests so she was expected to look fairly attractive so she had to have an attractive overall and breastfeeding her child would affect the appearance of her bosom so to avoid this the domestic slave was also in charge of breastfeeding the planter’s child.
Men on the plantation
On the plantation either the men were skilled or unskilled making them likely to be either field slaves or artisans. The largest group of slaves is the field slaves because that area requires the most work. The field slaves are made up of men, women and children alike. No one was free exempt plantation work not even the children; children age four to ten were a part of a gang called the third gang or hog meat gang who were given the role of carrying water to the field slaves and feeding the poultry. On the plantation there are three gangs the first gang comprising of the strongest workers, the second gang including the elderly and women and the third gang also referred to as the hogmeat gang.
” Men on the plantation were not exempt from work but were seen as the biggest assets in the case of being a slave because they were the strongest ” . The role of men on the plantation were very extending from field slaves to very important role on the plantation as artisans . Planters often gave the male slaves the opportunity to become artisans who were skillful men and the most valued in the work yard as seen in Caribbean Story Page 100.Artisans were given very important roles and a level of liberty including extra food and clothing, better living quarters and when they work on foreign plantations they were given a percentage of what they work as seen in Caribbean Story page 100. Artisans such as the head boilers were very important because the quality of sugar depended solely on him. Whether the plantation made a profit or not it depended on his judgement and skills. Planters recognized the important role of the artisans so he often gave them a large amount of incentives to do a good job. They were also a group of less skilled slaves including cattlemen and watchmen.
It is often said that the domestic slaves were the luckiest of all the group of slaves however this is very incorrect, the luckiest groups of slaves were the artisans who were also a part of a group of slaves called hired slaves. Hired slaves were artisans that were owned by a plantation that sends him to work on another one. Sometimes they are sent out by the master himself or pay the master for a ticket of leave to work elsewhere. These artisans were paid their own money when they bought a ticket of leave but otherwise were given a percentage of what they made on the foreign plantation. They carried out carpentry, tailoring, fishing, piloting etc. they were given the opportunity to make a great amount of money. A skilled rat-catcher could catch sixty to a hundred rats per week at half percent per rat giving them a chance of getting fifty percent of their earnings. The least fortunate of all slaves were those of the unskilled jobbing gangs. They were required to do the hardest work that a regular slave could not carry out and on average lived for 7 years.
When the white planter were purchasing slaves, they usually go for the ‘stronger-looking’ black man because they could do the most work and make good studs who were black men that were given the job of impregnating the female slaves to increase slave population on the plantation. This gives the studs a lot of sexual pleasure, while the female slaves, a lot of sexual burdens because they were breeding like dogs in their mating season whereas the studs, after impregnating as no responsibility for the child that will be born and wouldn’t be there to help nurture the child, leaving the women with a child to raise on her own from a man who she is not familiar with . Male slaves were the majority of slaves that received manumission, which is, the ability to buy their freedom because they were basically the only ones that ever received pay for their work. Both black and white men were more superior to black women. Women slaves were treated less than a male slave because a male slave was seen as an essential labour force on the plantation and also a bigger source of income.
Importance of men slaves
A slave is a man that is owned by another and has to work without any form of pay. According to the planters from the British West Indies the male slaves are the most important slaves on the plantation. Reason for this is that they are stronger, more skilled and more efficient than the women, children and the elderly. The most important thing on a sugar plantation is obviously the production of sugar and men slaves were given the entirety of important roles to carry out in the production of sugar. All the different classes of men slaves, whether skilled or unskilled, were seen as important the planter. The planter in reality treated the men better than women because they are obviously the strongest labour force on the plantation and without them their plantation would fail because of the low production of sugar. Men were given the role as head boiler and as a slave this is the highest position you can receive as a slave and it is up to you skill wise to make the plantation’s sugar profitable, up on your success you will be given several privileges from the planter. Other than sugar, men were the second “profitable thing” on the plantation because they were we also “arms for hire”, working on other plantation. They were used to increase the slave population by impregnating the black women.
Importance of women slaves
Women, although seen as inferior, are very important to the success of the sugar plantation because they are the ones that reproduce and increase the slave population which in entirety mean more free labour and they are to be recognized by the planter because they are the ones who take care of the planter and his family. Women aren’t really given roles that the success of the plantation depends on but rather jobs that determine the welfare of the planter and his family. Women slaves were given the role of preparing and testing the safety of the means for the planter and his family they were given the role of nurturing the young. Female slaves were also a means of the master relieving stress in forms such as sexual intercourse. The slave women weren’t given the chance to become artisans because they were not trusted with a role that is important in entirety but rather given jobs that were not going to affect the livelihood of the plantation. Male roles however were necessary to the sustenance of the plantation.
It was expected that life a domestic slave was far easier than the life of a feel slave, this is very incorrect although the work done in the great house doesn’t require a lot of strength it does take a lot more time and punishment in the great house affect you both physically and physiologically. It is safe to conclude no work on the plantation is easier than the other but rather they are all brutality and require different types of strength.
When female slaves are raped they are blamed by the wife as being the seductive snake and would defend her husband but in reality she would not skip an opportunity to abuse black women more beautiful than her. Domestic slaves were not seen as skilled so they weren’t even payed a dollar that they could put towards their manumission; were often slaves for their whole life.
Whenever it came on to growing the master’s children, the slave women were willing to do this more than anything else. They would hold something as precious and innocent as a baby and remind themselves of the times they held their own baby in their arms. Due to some of these female servant roles, the enslaved women were forced to be submissive to any authority figure within the Great House. The enslaved women were also seen as weak individuals who would never put up a physical fight but instead passive, unlike their male counterparts who were trained to fight and would defend themselves whenever they were threatened. It was for these reasons why women received such treatment. Women had two primary roles on the plantations; the dual burden of production and reproduction. The females worked alongside the men and did hard labour in their field gangs. Strength was certainly needed as these women were required to dig and cut cane from sunrise to sunset. The gender assumption that females are weak goes completely out the window here as it is quite evident that women were physically capable to do tough manual work. Thus, females are important in plantation production and the key sex relied upon. Domestic work is the other major form of labour that women made up. It is believed that this form of labour held a higher status than that of field work, thus field work to a domestic was seen as a form of punishment. Despite the higher status and the belief of a more comfortable lifestyle; domestics were under constant watch of their masters which could not have been easy. Sexual exploitation was common, yet having sexual relations with one’s master could have some perks. This form of agency was part of the unique experience that enslaved women obtained, as was the role of reproduction. It is safe to say women are seen inferior because of their gender and acquire certain roles on the plantation because of their “inferiority” rather than their own abilities and qualifications.
BibliographyGreenwood, Robert and Hamber, Shirley, Emancipation to Emigration, Macmillan Publishers, 2003
Hamilton-Willie, Doris, Lest You Forget: Caribbean Economy and Slavery, Jamaica Publishing House Limited, 2001
Hamilton-Willie, Doris, Lest You Forget: Resistance and Revolt, Jamaica Publishing House Limited, 2003
Oxford School Dictionary and Thesaurus