April 5, 2017
The Culture of the West Indies in Carolina: The Integration of Economic Exploitation into Colonization Efforts
The sound of leaves rustling and falling to the ground filled the ears of anyone unfamiliar to the region. For the locals, it was similar to the sound of sirens to a city resident. This endless rhythm represented thousand of African slaves laboring away. There were African workers everywhere in sight, a seemingly worrying proportion of race at that period in time. This is the West Indies, an economically-centered society driven by the labor of slaves and the wealth of plantation owners, who doubled as the government. In the years to come, this society would prove to be a model for certain ways forward in America, but would simultaneously serve as an example of what not to strive for. The influence of the West Indies was heavily incorporated in the ways of life in Carolina. Carolina replicated the West Indies in many ways, but for the purpose of settlement, did not follow the model presented by the West Indies. The combination of the West Indies labor model and the infrastructure of society in Carolina proved to be the stepping stone for the future colonization of America.
In regards to early colonization, the kickstart of life in Barbados was not centered around African slavery. Instead, Barbados relied on the labor of indentured servants as the main source of economic success, along with a small amount of slaves. Indentured servants and slaves were mentioned in the same breath at the beginning of life in Barbados, as is evident through the 1652 legislation regarding the both of them. This legislation laid out the punishments for the two groups, with indentured servants having “to serve his said master one whole moneth after his time by Indenture” as a result of wandering unaccounted for for a mere two hours, while the punishment for a slave constituted a beating.[footnoteRef:1] In retrospect, these punishments can be viewed as equal, which greatly differed from how the following years would turn out. As life became undesirable for poor whites in Barbados, the numbers of white migrants drastically decreased. As a result, plantation owners in Barbados turned to African slavery as means for sustaining economic prosperity. By 1661, slaves and servants were viewed as separate entities. Over that year, an act for the overlooking of negroes and an act for sustaining rights in between servants and their masters were published, lawfully dividing the two. As legislation changed in Barbados, new regions of America were beginning to be discovered and colonized. One of these areas was Carolina. To fuel development in Carolina, individuals called the Barbados Adventurers offered their help, seeing as their work in Barbados produced such economic success. These individuals were “willing and ready to remove speedily theither to begin a settlement,”[footnoteRef:2] clearly trusting the opportunity in Carolina....