Editor’s Note: Cuckold Point? I’ve read elsewhere that disobedient slaves were subjected to something called the “cucking stool.”
The Barbados Slave Act of 1661 swept through the Greater Caribbean and became the model slave code for South Carolina and eventually the other Southern colonies:
“Colonists in Barbados responded to the growing number of enslaved Africans by drafting a comprehensive slave act in 1661. Early colonists had created a number of laws dealing with indentured servants, but the slave act represented a new and harsher system of control, one for which no English precedents existed. The preamble manifested the prevailing attitudes toward Africans, labeling them “an heathenish, brutish and uncertaine, dangerous kinde of people,” before moving on to specific regulations. By law, masters had complete control over the lives of their slaves. They could punish slaves as they saw fit; there was no consequence for killing slaves while punishing them, and only a fine for outright murder. Slaves who physically assaulted any “Christian” faced a series of draconian penalties, ranging from branding to having their noses slit, and ultimately, to death. Planters did not extend the English tradition of trial by jury to the slaves. Instead, a committee composed of two justices of the peace and three freeholders passed judgment. Rebels and suspected rebels were tried by court-martial.
The 1661 Barbados law served as the model, directly or indirectly, for slave laws in other colonies throughout the region. Colonists in Jamaica copied it extensively in 1661 but added new language, including clauses concerning runaways and slave provision grounds, when they revised the law twenty years later. The 1684 Jamaican law, in turn, provided the model for colonists in South Carolina who adopted it almost word for word when they passed a slave law in 1691. Colonists in Antigua drew on the Barbados and Jamaica laws when they drafted their slave act in 1697. …”
A few points need to be made here:
1.) First, it is beyond clear that the Greater Caribbean wasn’t based on Lockean liberalism. In Barbados, a slave could legally be murdered by his master, so there unquestionably wasn’t any universal right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness there.
2.) Second, it hard to imagine a society less based on the liberal tradition as defined by Jeffrey Tucker and FEE.org than the Greater Caribbean. It was capitalist without being liberal.
3.) Third, there was a tradition of “liberty” in the Greater Caribbean. It wasn’t abstract or universalist though. It was the idea that English liberty followed English subjects overseas. This is why the English could boast about “liberty” while simultaneously creating slave states.
Specifically, I want to learn more about “liberty” as it was understood in Britain, the West Indies and the Southern colonies and it how it related to slavery. That’s where my research is going.