"Tobacco Revolution in the Chesapeake" Summation
In "Tobacco Revolution in the Chesapeake," Ira Berlin argues that during the late seventeenth-century, a new social structure in slavery emerged. The lives of plantation slaves changed in many major ways as the demand for laborers surged in unison with tobacco production. The awaiting plantation owners were not prepared for the mindset and condition of slaves that were part of the newer influxes. Most slaves were exhausted from the unhealthy journey across the Middle Passage, and alarming numbers did not survive. Those able to cling to life were met in America by increasingly intolerant masters and the most demanding working conditions tobacco plantations had yet offered. Eventually blacks could no longer maintain their cultural identity, and relations between blacks and whites were decreasing. This new system relied on raw power for upkeep. The absolute sovereignty deployed by masters had slaves working so hard that they had no time to work for themselves, and thus the slaves’ personal economies rarely reached beyond their masters’ property. Many slaves who felt they could not bear the gruesomely unjust conditions violently challenged authority of masters in revolts or attempted stealthy flight. Rare were successes, however, especially due to the implementation of slave codes designed to ensure dominance and regulate slave life. Other effects of tobacco revolution on the slave population included the younger generation of slaves having little in common with the older generation, the Chesapeake population consisting of four-fifths African Americans by the mid-eighteenth century, the systematic demolition of African cultures and traditions, and the redefining of race. Slaves learned to form domestic relations which could persuade masters to allow family bonding and some access to privacy. Slave families nevertheless remained fragile institutions. Slaves managed to stabilize the work day and even...
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