Review Of Black Majority

1676 words - 7 pages

Peter Wood's Black Majority is a clear and distinctive history of the English South Carolina Colony. He unravels their history through an examination of the black population in the colony from 1670 through the aftermath of the Stono Rebellion. Following the course of Wood's examination we are able to obtain a social, political and economic understanding of life in South Carolina during this time.Only after reading Black Majority can one come to understand the astronomical impact that the African indentured servants and slaves had on the success of the colony. But in the same regard one will also realize the negative impact the lopsided African population had on the Carolina colony.After ...view middle of the document...

African slaves proved to be the most economical and skilled as they drastically improved every trade industry that they embodied including the most profitable ones.Before rice emerged as the Carolina staple crop around 1700, timber production in the Carolina colony stimulated Carolina's economic growth. This industry was jump started by the need for wood for sugar production in the Caribbean colonies, construction in Charlestown and for Naval stores being built in response to renewed tensions with France. The success of the timber industry heavily relied on African slave labor and skills which had become a recognized tool in the success of every industry that the colonist pursued.This reliance on African knowledge particularly rang true with rice crops. Early rice production attempts had fallen short of expectations and proved to be difficult for Europeans to cultivate. Not until the connection between Africans and their abilities to grow rice was it a crop worth pursuing. African slave knowledge of rice development, brought from the West African cost where rice production was abundant, made them very attractive to English colonists.As the economy expanded rapidly so did the population of blacks. Within the first twenty-five years of the colony it was projected that one out of four inhabitants in the Carolina colony was black, but by the time the Royal government took over in 1720 the population of blacks was larger than that of the whites and had been so for a decade . Between 1720 and 1740 the black population exploded from about 12,000 to almost 40,000, a 38,000 person increase, in comparison to the white population which increased about 13,500 during the same period .Wood points out another possible explanation of the population boom is perhaps the white settler's realization that the sub-tropical dieses did not affect the African population as much as it affected the un-adapted white European population. One Carolina colonist said, "We have been Afflicted with very great Sickness & Mortality in this Town for some Past, & has been very fatal to Strangers & Europeans especially" . A notable Charlestown doctor added later, "That subjects which were susceptible of this fever, were both sexes of white color, especially strangers lately arrived from cold climates" .As the population of black residents increased, the white settler's fears of being dominated by their slaves increased. As Wood protests, "Concern stemmed first from a simple awareness of numbers" . English colonists paid close attention to uprisings and violent out-lashes that were covered in the Gazette, the local Charlestown newspaper. Even closer attention was paid to news of disorder that came from the closely linked Caribbean Colonies. In relation to these fears the Carolina colony made attempts to curb the flow of immigrants from Africa and increase the flow of European immigrants for labor reasons, but it failed to be voted into law.Although no limitation on ...


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