«Developed by: Natalie Arsenault, Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies Christopher Rose, Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the ...»
A Curriculum Unit on Comparative Slave Systems
for Grades 9-12
Natalie Arsenault, Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies
Christopher Rose, Center for Middle Eastern Studies
at the University of Texas at Austin
About the Authors
Natalie Arsenault is Outreach Coordinator at the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies at
the University of Texas at Austin. She holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of Florida.
She has worked extensively on Latin American content-based activities with educators at all levels; has presented on her own research at regional and national educator conferences; and has developed multiple standardsaligned curriculum units related to Latin America. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Christopher Rose is Outreach Coordinator at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, where he obtained his M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies. He is responsible for educational outreach to classrooms, business, the media, and community groups to increase awareness on matters related to the Middle East and its many diverse cultures. He is a frequent guest speaker in schools throughout the Austin area, and he has developed many curriculum resources to supplement K-12 curricula in world studies. He can be reached at email@example.com Africa Enslaved: A Curriculum Unit on Comparative Slave Systems for Grades 9 -12 Compilation date: March 2006 Permission is granted to reproduce this unit for classroom use only.
Please do not redistribute this unit without prior permission.
For more information, please see:
http://inic.utexas.edu/hemispheres/ Cover photo: The slave monument, Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania © 2003, Christopher Rose Haiti CIA World Factbook, 1988.
Slavery iN Haiti Hispaniola, the island currently shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Santo Domingo, as the Spanish called it, became an outpost of the Spanish Empire, important for its position as a launching place for conquests of new territory in the Americas.
The course of history for Santo Domingo was quickly set in motion: slaves were introduced in 1502 and the first sugar mill was erected in 1516. The first slaves were Taíno Indians, who dwindled from a population of hundreds of thousands in 1492 to 150 in 1550. As the indigenous population was dying of abuse and disease, African slaves were brought in; the first 15,000 Africans arrived in 1517. The Spanish settled on the eastern part of the island but focused on their more prosperous colonies in other parts of the Americas. This led, in the early 1660s, to an incursion into the western part of the island by the French.
The French originally cultivated indigo but quickly exhausted the soil, so they turned to the more profitable crop of sugarcane in the 1690s. In 1697, after decades of fighting over the territory, the Spanish ceded the western part of the island to the French, who henceforth called it Saint-Domingue (modern-day Haiti).
Now fully settled in Saint-Domingue, the French focused on sugar. More than 100 sugar plantations were established between 1700 and 1704. Sugar production was very profitable and Saint-Domingue quickly became the richest of France’s colonies. As sugar expanded, so did the slave population, necessary for the labor-intensive crop.
In 1681, there had been 2000 slaves in Saint-Domingue; in 1701, there were 10,000. By 1720, the French were importing 8,000 slaves each year from Africa.
When the French began to plant coffee, around 1734, profits in Saint-Domingue soared and more slaves were needed for yet another labor-intensive crop. By the mid-18th century, Saint-Domingue was producing 60% of the world’s coffee. Crop expansion required additional labor, as did the high mortality of the slave population due to harsh working conditions. Between 1764-1771, 10,000-15,000 slaves were arriving each year; 25,000 arrived in 1786; and more than 40,000 arrived in 1787. By 1787, there were 450,000 slaves in Saint-Domingue. At this time, 60% of the French slaves in the Americas were in Saint-Domingue and two-thirds of those slaves were African-born.
With such a lopsided population—where slaves vastly outnumbered free colonists—slaves had always practiced forms of resistance. Groups of runaway slaves, known as maroons, would escape to the mountains to hide. They armed themselves and would attack plantations for supplies. François Makandal, the most famous maroon leader, led a six-year rebellion from 1751-1757 that sought to overthrow the white regime. Maroons were the most common form of resistance along with the continuing practice of voodoo, a slave religion whose practice was forbidden by law; suicide, infanticide, arson, and poison also provided slaves with ways to rebel against their masters.
Then came 1789, a decisive year in the history of France. The cry of “Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!” opened the French Revolution. The impact of the revolution reached Saint-Domingue, escalating tensions between grands blancs (big whites: the elites, plantation owners and the like), petits blancs (little whites: merchants, shopkeepers, etc.), and free gens de couleur (mulattoes, who were often wealthy landowners but did not have the same rights as white colonists). Grands blancs wanted local autonomy from France; mulattoes saw their chance for citizenship and equality; and petits blancs were eager to protect their position in the color-based class system. All of these groups were against freeing the slaves. Amid all of this infighting, the slaves, who outnumbered the free population more than 10 to 1, began to organize. Why was liberty and equality not meant for them as well?
In August 1791, the rebellion began with a voodoo priest predicting that a revolt would free the slaves of Saint-Domingue. The slaves set about burning plantations and killing all of the whites they encountered. SaintDomingue was an inferno for months. The revolution had begun. During the following two years, the attacks continued and eventually France sent agents to try to quell the uprising. In 1793 the remarkable Toussaint L’Ouverture, a former slave, rose to power. L’Ouverture battled French, Spanish, and British forces and, by 1801, had control of Santo Domingo (current-day Dominican Republic), where he eradicated slavery. At this point, Napoleon tried to regain control of Saint-Domingue so as to restore French rule. L’Ouverture was captured in 1802, deported to France, and killed in 1803, but the former slaves were still strong without him. On November 18, 1803, the French were dealt a mortal blow and Saint-Domingue was no more. Independence was proclaimed on January 1, 1804 for the new country of Haiti (hayti was the Taíno word for “mountainous place”). Haitian independence marks the first achieved in Latin America and the only successful slave revolt in modern history.
1. Create a time line from 1492-1804 based on the overview.
2. Briefly describe the setting in Saint-Domingue at the end of the 18th century. Discuss the colony’s history, economy, and societal structure.
3. How did the French Revolution play a key role in Haiti’s independence?
4. Why do you think the Haitian Revolution took 13 years to achieve its goal?
legal StatUS Reading 1: Justification of Slavery, Bishop Bossuet, French Theologian (1627-1704) To condemn this state … would be not only to condemn human law [i.e., the Roman jus gentium] where servitude is admitted, as it appears in all laws, but also it would be to condemn the Holy Spirit which, speaking through St. Paul, ordered slaves to remain in their condition and which did not in any way oblige masters to free them.
Robin Blackburn, The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern, 1491-1800 (New York: Verso, 1997), 291.
1. On what two grounds does Bishop Bossuet justify slavery?
2. Based on this justification, how might one argue against him?
Reading 2: from the Code Noir, 1685 The Code Noir (Black Code) established the legal framework for slavery in the French colonies. Various articles defined the condition of slavery and set up harsh controls over the slaves.
Edict of the King:
On the subject of the Policy regarding the Islands of French America Our authority is required to settle issues dealing with the condition and quality of the slaves in said islands. We desire to settle these issues and inform them that, even though they reside infinitely far from our normal abode, we are always present for them, not only through the reach of our power but also by the promptness of our help toward their needs. For these reasons …we have declared, ruled, and ordered, and declare, rule, and order, that the following pleases us: … Article XII. Children born from marriages between slaves shall be slaves, and if the husband and wife have different masters, they shall belong to the masters of the female slave, not to the master of her husband.
Article XIII. We desire that if a male slave has married a free woman, their children, either male or female, shall be free as is their mother, regardless of their father’s condition of slavery. And if the father is free and the mother a slave, the children shall also be slaves....
Article XV. We forbid slaves from carrying any offensive weapons or large sticks, at the risk of being whipped and having the weapons confiscated. The weapons shall then belong to he who confiscated them. The sole exception shall be made for those who have been sent by their masters to hunt and who are carrying either a letter from their masters or his known mark.
Article XVI. We also forbid slaves who belong to different masters from gathering, either during the day or at night, under the pretext of a wedding or other excuse, either at one of the master’s houses or elsewhere, and especially not in major roads or isolated locations. They shall risk corporal punishment….
Article XVIII. We forbid slaves from selling sugar cane, for whatever reason or occasion, even with the permission of their master, at the risk of a whipping for the slaves and a fine of ten pounds for the masters who gave them permission, and an equal fine for the buyer.
Article XIX. We also forbid slaves from selling any type of commodities, even fruit, vegetables, firewood, herbs for cooking and animals either at the market, or at individual houses, without a letter or a known mark from their masters granting express permission. Slaves shall risk the confiscation of goods sold in this way, without their masters receiving restitution for the loss, and a fine of six pounds shall be levied against the buyers….
Article XLII. The masters may also, when they believe that their slaves so deserve, chain them and have them beaten with rods or straps. They shall be forbidden however from torturing them or mutilating any limb, at the risk of having the slaves confiscated and having extraordinary charges brought against them….
Article XLVII. Husband, wife and prepubescent children, if they are all under the same master, may not be taken and sold separately. We declare the seizing and sales that shall be done as such to be void. For slaves who have been separated, we desire that the seller shall risk their loss, and that the slaves he kept shall be awarded to the buyer, without him having to pay any supplement....
Édit du Roi, Touchant la Police des Isles de l’Amérique Française (Paris: 1687), 28–58. George Mason University, Center for History and New Media, http://chnm.gmu.edu/revolution/d/335/.
1. Through which parent is the condition of slavery passed? Discuss why slavery might pass through one parent and not the other. How might the slave owners benefit from this system?
2. What prohibitions are placed on slaves by the Code Noir?
3. What rights do the masters have over the slaves in the articles above? What limitations are placed on the masters?
4. Look closely at Article XLVII (the last one listed). What does this article say? Do you think the same limitation would have been placed on the selling of livestock? Why or why not?
1 Haiti Reading 3: Count Mirabeau (Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, 1749-1791) on Representation in the states-General Mirabeau takes issue with how the colonists in Saint-Domingue counted their population in order to secure seats in the States-General, the assembly that advised the King of France.
You claim representation proportionate to the number of the inhabitants. The free blacks are proprietors and tax-payers, and yet they have not been allowed to vote. And as for the slaves, either they are men or they are not; if the colonists consider them to be men, let them free them and make them electors and eligible for seats; if the contrary is the case, have we, in apportioning deputies according to the population of France, taken into consideration the number of our horses and mules?
C.L.R. James, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution, 2nd ed. rev. (New York: Vintage Books, 1989), 60.
1. What are the rights of free blacks in Saint-Domingue?
2. Considering Readings 2 and 3 together, why would Mirabeau ask for clarification from the colonists about the status of slaves? What are the colonists doing that seems contradictory?
3. If slaves are not men, what are they? Why?
Slave laBor Reading 1: Description of slave Duties Those who survived [the first few years] and were fully inducted into the plantation system occupied a variety of positions.