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Slavery in Cuba was a portion of the larger Atlantic Slave Trade that primarily supported Spanish plantation owners engaged in the sugarcane trade. It was practiced on the island of Cuba from the 16th century until it was abolished by Spanish royal decree on October 7, 1886.
The first organized system of slavery in Cuba was introduced by the Spanish Empire, which attacked and enslaved the island's indigenous Taíno and Guanahatabey peoples on a grand scale. Cuba's original population was eventually destroyed completely, partly due to this lethal forced labor throughout the course of the 1500s.[ citation needed ] The remaining Taino intermixed with Europeans or African slaves and no full blooded Taino remained after the 1600s, though many Cubans today do have small amounts of Taino blood
Following the Taino genocide in which the Spanish bred out or killed majority of the native population, the Spanish were in need of new slaves to uphold their sugarcane production. They thus brought more than a million enslaved African people to Cuba. The African enslaved population grew to outnumber European Cubans, and a large proportion of Cubans today are descended from these enslaved peoples.[ citation needed ]
Cuba became one of the world's largest sugarcane producers after the Haitian Revolution and it continued to import enslaved Africans long after the practice was internationally outlawed. Cuba would not end its participation in the slave trade until 1867, nor abolish slave ownership until 1880. Due to growing pressure on the trade throughout the 19th century, it also imported more than 100,000 Chinese indentured workers to replace dwindling African labor.[ citation needed ]
By the 1550s, the Spanish had wiped out most of the indigenous population of Cuba, which up to that point had been their primary source of enslaved labor. Chattel slavery of people of African origin was thus introduced around this time in order to make up for the labor shortage.”
In pre-plantation Cuba, many enslaved people lived in Havana, the major port city of the island. They provided services to the garrisons of the Nueva España and Tierra Firme fleets, which arrived at the port annually. Throughout the 1500s and 1600s, enslaved people made up a large portion of the services sector of the city's economy and also held numerous skilled trade positions in Havana.European-Cuban historian José Martín Félix de Arrate y Acosta recalled in 1761 that “negros and pardos” were “very able and capable to apply themselves, becoming distinguished masters, not only in the lowest ones such as shoemakers, tailors, masons, and carpenters, but also in those which require more ability and genius, such as silversmith’s craft, sculpture, painting, and carving, as denoted by their marvelous works.” Some enslaved Havanans worked under a market-based system in which the enslaved person had the responsibility of finding their own job and employer, and then giving over a portion of their earnings to their owner.
Enslaved peoples in Cuba did not begin to experience the harsh conditions of plantation agriculture until after the 1770s, once the international plantation economy had expanded into Western Cuba. [ dubious ] But in 1762 the British Empire, led by the Earl of Albemarle, captured Havana during the Seven Years' War with Spain. During the year-long occupation of Havana and the surrounding regions, the British expanded the plantation system on the island and imported 4,000 enslaved people from their other possessions in the West Indies to populate the new plantations. These 4,000 enslaved formed nearly 10% of all enslaved people imported to the island during the previous 250 years. Spain regained control of the British-held regions of Cuba in 1763 by surrendering Florida to the British in exchange.In 1740 the Havana Company was formed to stimulate the sugar industry by encouraging slave importation into the colony, although it was an unsuccessful early attempt.
The British had also freed 90 enslaved people who had sided with them during the invasion, in recognition of their contribution to the Spanish defeat.Given their role in the Seven Years' War, Spanish colonial official Julián de Arriaga realized that enslaved people could become partisans of foreign nations which offered them freedom. He thus began to issue cartas de libertad and emancipated some two dozen enslaved people who had defended Havana against the British. The Spanish Crown increased the imports of enslaved people in order to ensure the loyalty of European-Cuban planters and to increase revenues from the lucrative sugar trade, as the crop was in high demand in Europe by this time.
In 1792 enslaved people of the French colony of Saint-Domingue began a revolution on the nearby island of Hispaniola. In 1803, ships carrying both white European and free people of color refugees arrived in Cuba from Saint-Domingue. Though all the passengers on board had been legally free under French law for years, and many of the mixed-race people had been born free, upon their arrival the Cubans classified those of even partial African descent as slaves. The white passengers were allowed entry into Cuba while African and mulatto passengers were restrained on the ships. Some of the white passengers had additionally claimed some of the Black passengers as slaves during the journey. The women of African descent and their children were particularly subject to being pressed into slavery.
In the long run, Santiago de Cuba proved to be a receptive landing point for men and women who hoped to restore the social relations of slavery, and for their project of redefining others among the refugees as slaves. Authorized since 1789 as a port of arrival for the transatlantic trade in African captives, Santiago served an expanding hinterland of plantations producing sugar and coffee. Ships arrived regularly from the west coast of Africa, delivering bound laborers into the urban and rural economy. Men and women from Saint-Domingue who brought with them both financial resources and the habit of command could make a convincing case that they – and their ‘slaves’ – offered something of value to a developing agricultural export sector. Those with more-modest resources, including men and women designated as mulatos or mulatas libres, could simply point out that they needed the labor of one or two slaves in order to avoid becoming a charge on the Cuban government.
The Haitians finally gained their independence in 1804. They declared the new Republic of Haiti, making it second Republic in the Western Hemisphere and the first founded by formerly enslaved people. Cuban slaveholders watched these events closely, but took comfort in thinking the rebellion was the result of the radical politics of the French Revolution, during which the French government had abolished slavery in the colonies before attempting to reintroduce it shortly afterwards.As the new freedmen set up small subsistence farms in Haiti, Cuba's planters gained much of the sugar market formerly held by Saint-Domingue's large plantations. As sugar expanded to dominate the economy in Cuba, planters greatly expanded their importation of enslaved people from Africa. As a result, “between 1791 to 1805, 91,211 slaves entered the island through Havana”.
In the early 19th century, the Cuban planters, who relied almost exclusively on foreign slave traders, closely followed debates on abolishing slavery in Britain and the newly-independent United States. In 1807, both Britain and the United States banned the Atlantic slave trade, with the British ban taking effect in 1807 and the American ban taking effect in 1808.Unlike in the rest of the Americas, the 19th century European-descended Cuban elite did not form an anti-colonial movement. They worried that such action would encourage enslaved Cubans to revolt. Cuban elites petitioned the Spanish Crown to create an independent Cuban slave-trading company, and smugglers continued to ship enslaved people to the island when they could evade British and American anti-slavery patrols around West Africa.
In March 1812, a series of revolts led by freedman José Antonio Aponte erupted in the plantations of Cuba.After the revolts were suppressed by the local militias armed by the government, hundreds of enslaved people were arrested, with many of the leaders being tried and executed.
By 1817, Britain and Spain were making a concerted effort to reform their diplomatic ties and negotiate the legal status of the Atlantic slave trade. An Anglo-Spanish treaty in 1817 formally gained Spanish agreement to immediately end the slave trade north of the Equator and expand enforcement against illegal slave ships. But, as recorded by legal trade documents of the era, 372,449 enslaved people were imported to Cuba before the slave trade legally ended, and at least 123,775 were imported between 1821 and 1853.
Even as the slave trade ceased in other parts of the Atlantic, the Cuban slave trade continued on until 1867. The ownership of human beings as chattel slaves remained legal in Cuba until 1880. The slave trade in Cuba would not systematically end until chattel Cuban slavery was abolished by Spanish royal decree in 1886, making it one of the last countries in the Western Hemisphere (preceding only Brazil) to formally abolish slavery.
Enslaved people who worked on sugar plantations and in sugar mills were often subject to the harshest of conditions. The field work was rigorous manual labor which they had to begin at an early age. The work days lasted close to 20 hours during harvest and processing, including cultivating and cutting the crops, hauling wagons, and processing sugarcane with dangerous machinery. Enslaved people were forced to reside in barracoons, where they were crammed in and locked in by a padlock at night, getting about three to four hours of sleep. The conditions of the barracoons were highly unsanitary and extremely hot. Typically there was no ventilation; the only window was a small barred hole in the wall.
“So the place swarmed with fleas and ticks that gave the entire work force infections and diseases.”
Biography of a Runaway Slave, page 23
Enslaved people who misbehaved, underproduced, or disobeyed their masters were often placed in stocks in boiler houses, where they were abandoned for anywhere from a few days to as much as two to three months at a time. The wooden stocks were built in both standing and prostrate varieties, and women were subjected to this and other forms of torture even when pregnant. When subjected to whippings, pregnant women had to lay "face down over a scooped-out piece of round [earth] to protect their bellies."Some masters reportedly whipped pregnant women in the belly, often causing miscarriages. Enslaved Cubans developed herbal remedies to treat torture wounds where possible, applying “compresses of tobacco leaves, urine and salt" to lashing wounds in particular.
Under Spanish law in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, enslaved people had certain rights and were able to appeal to authorities to ensure the enforcement of these rights. These rights were influenced by the Siete Partidas code of Alfonso X the Wise, which regulated slavery in Castile.Some of these rights included the right to purchase freedom and access to Catholic sacraments, such as baptism and marriage. The purchase of freedom was often facilitated by a legal custom, coartación . Through coartación, enslaved people were able to come to agreements with their slaveholder on a price for their freedom and would pay for their manumission in installments. Enslaved people who created these agreements with their slaveholders were called coartados.
In 1789, the Spanish Crown led an effort to reform slavery, as the demand for enslaved labor in Cuba was growing. The Crown issued a decree, the Código Negro Español (Spanish Black Code), that specified food and clothing provisions, put limits on the number of work hours, limited punishments, required religious instruction, and protected marriages, forbidding the sale of young children away from their mothers.But planters often flouted the laws and protested against them. They considered the code a threat to their authority and an intrusion into their personal lives.
The slave owners did not protest against all the measures of the code, many of which, they argued, were already common practices. They objected to efforts to set limits on their ability to apply physical punishment. For instance, the Black Code limited lashings to 25 and required whipping "not to cause serious bruises or bleeding".The slaveholders thought that the enslaved Cubans would interpret these limits as weaknesses, ultimately leading to resistance. Another contested issue was the restriction of work hours "from sunrise to sunset." Planters said that during the harvest season, the rapid cutting and processing of cane required 20-hour days. Enslaved people working on plantations ultimately had minimal opportunities to claim any of these rights. Most coartados during this time were urban enslaved people.
This article is written like a personal reflection, personal essay, or argumentative essay that states a Wikipedia editor's personal feelings or presents an original argument about a topic.(January 2021)
Cuban patriarchy provided a framework for projecting gender roles onto enslaved peoples. Just as the practice of machismo solidified male domination over others, the practice of marianismo elevated the position of white women over enslaved peoples. [ page needed ]Machismo and marianismo functioned symbiotically: the white Cuban male was expected to express dominance in public spaces and ventures like the slave trade, while white women exercised control of private spaces (including those staffed by enslaved people) through feminine virtues like motherhood, modesty, and honor.
Cuba's slavery system was gendered in that some labor was performed only by men, and some only by women. Enslaved women in the city of Havana, from the sixteenth century onwards, performed duties such as operating the town taverns, eating houses, and lodges, as well as working as laundresses and domestic laborers. Enslaved women were also forced to serve as sex slaves in the towns.
Though gender roles were predominant in enslaved peoples' labor, historical narratives[ whose? ] have been interpreted[ by whom? ] in gendered ways that highlight the role of men in the resistance to slavery, while occluding the role of enslaved women. Further studies[ whose? ] show that the relationship between gender and slave revolt was complex. For instance, historical interpretations of the La Escalera conspiracy reveal the role of machismo in Cuban historiography:
As December 1843 drew to a close, an enslaved woman in the Sabanilla district named Polonia Gangá shocked her master with the information that his prized sugar property was about to be engulfed in open rebellion… But commencing the story of 1844 at the moment of Polonia’s declaration also necessarily equates a woman’s betrayal.
A machismo historical perspective frames betrayal as one of the only possibilities for enslaved women's participation in insurrection, because it associates rebellion exclusively to masculine aggression. But despite enslaved women being viewed through this limiting lens, these women were known to have played a key role both in armed rebellion against slavery and in more subtle forms of resistance. One such leader was an enslaved woman named Carlota, who led a rebellion in the Triunvirate plantation in Matanzas in 1843. [ by whom? ] a pioneer in the Cuban fight against slavery.She is considered
Enslaved women also practiced methods of resistance that did not involve armed rebellion. Cuban oral histories and newspaper advertisements indicate a contingent of formerly enslaved women who escaped from their owners.And as in other Latin cultures, racial segregation was not strictly enforced between white men and the mulatta population in Cuba, so some enslaved Cuban women thus gained their freedom through familial and sexual relationships with white men. Men who took enslaved women as wives or concubines sometimes freed both them and their children. Free mixed-race people thus eventually began to constitute an additional Cuban social class in a stature beneath ethnic Europeans and above enslaved Africans. Both freedmen and free people of color, generally of mixed race, came to represent 20% of the total Cuban population and 41% of the non-white Cuban population.
However, plantation owners also encouraged Afro-Cuban enslaved women to have children in order to reproduce their enslaved work force and replace people killed by the harsh conditions of slavery. Owners paired strong black men with healthy black women, even if they were immediate relatives, forcing them to have sex and “breed stock” of children. The children could then be sold for about 500 pesos[ when? ], and also saved owners on the cost of importing additional enslaved people from Africa. Sometimes if the owners did not like the quality of the children, they separated the parents and sent the mother back to working in the fields.
junto al cañaveral.
sobre el cañaveral.
bajo el cañaveral.
que se nos va!
Slavery left a long-lasting mark on Cuban culture that persists to the present day. Cuban writers such as Nicolás Guillén and Lydia Cabrera participated in the Pan-African Négritude movement of the early 20th century (locally known as negrista or negrismo). Afro-Cuban writers undertook a Hispanophone effort to reclaim Cuban blackness and connections to African culture, while expressing a new sensibility comparable to the Harlem Renaissance in New York City. Guillén, Cabrera, and their contemporaries revisited and tried to make sense of slavery and other crimes against Afro-Cuban people, as well as celebrating the enslaved people who had survived and created their own culture.
Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for another person, while treated as property. Slavery typically involves the enslaved person being made to perform some form of work while also having their location dictated by the slaver. Historically, when people were enslaved, it was often because they were indebted, or broke the law, or suffered a military defeat, and the duration of their enslavement was either for life or for a fixed period of time after which freedom was granted. Individuals, then, usually became slaves involuntarily, due to force or coercion, although there was also voluntary slavery to pay a debt or obtain money for some purpose. In the course of human history, slavery was a typical feature of civilization, and legal in most societies, but it is now outlawed in all countries of the world, except as punishment for crime.
Saint-Domingue was a French colony from 1659 to 1804 on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola; the island that now hosts two countries, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The name was also used, at times, for the island of Hispaniola as a whole, all of it, nominally, being at times a French colony. The Spanish form of the name, Santo Domingo, also was used at times for the island as a whole. The border between the French-speaking Haiti and the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic was not established until after the Dominican Republic's declaration of independence in 1844.
Slavery in the colonial history of the United States, from 1526 to 1776, developed from complex factors, and researchers have proposed several theories to explain the development of the institution of slavery and of the slave trade. Slavery strongly correlated with the European colonies' demand for labor, especially for the labor-intensive plantation economies of the sugar colonies in the Caribbean and South America, operated by Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal and the Dutch Republic.
Slavery in the United States was the legal institution of human chattel slavery, comprising the enslavement primarily of Africans and African Americans, that existed in the United States of America from its founding in 1776 until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. Slavery was established throughout European colonization in the Americas. From early colonial days, it was practiced in Britain's colonies, including the Thirteen Colonies which formed the United States. Under the law, an enslaved person was treated as property and could be bought, sold, or given away. Slavery lasted in about half of U.S. states until 1865. As an economic system, slavery was largely replaced by sharecropping and convict leasing.
A plantation economy is an economy based on agricultural mass production, usually of a few commodity crops grown on large farms called plantations. Plantation economies rely on the export of cash crops as a source of income. Prominent crops included cotton, rubber, sugar cane, tobacco, figs, rice, kapok, sisal, and species in the genus Indigofera, used to produce indigo dye.
Slavery in the British and French Caribbean refers to slavery in the parts of the Caribbean dominated by France or the British Empire.
Slavery in the Spanish American colonies was an economic and social institution which existed throughout the Spanish Empire including Spain itself. In its American territories, Spain displayed an early abolitionist stance towards indigenous people although Native American slavery continued to be practiced, particularly until the New Laws of 1543. The Spanish empire, however was involved in the enslavement people of African origin. Although the Spanish themselves played a very minor role in the Atlantic slave trade compared to other European empires, in absolute terms, the Spanish Empire was a major recipient of African slaves, with around 22% of the Africans delivered to American shores ending up in the Spanish Empire.
Engenho is a colonial-era Portuguese term for a sugar cane mill and the associated facilities. In Spanish-speaking countries such as Cuba and Puerto Rico, they are called ingenios. The word engenho usually only referred to the mill, but it could also describe the area as a whole including land, a mill, the people who farmed and who had a knowledge of sugar production, and a crop of sugar cane. A large estate was required because of the massive amount of labor needed to yield refined sugar, molasses, or rum from raw sugar cane. These estates were prevalent in Brazil, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and other countries in the Caribbean. Today, Brazil is still one of the world's major producers of sugar.
The history of slavery spans many cultures, nationalities, and religions from ancient times to the present day. Likewise, its victims have come from many different ethnicities and religious groups. The social, economic, and legal positions of slaves have differed vastly in different systems of slavery in different times and places.
The institution of slavery in North America existed from the earliest years of the colonial history of the United States until 1865 when the Thirteenth Amendment permanently abolished slavery throughout the entire United States. It was also abolished among the sovereign Indian tribes in Indian Territory by new peace treaties which the US required after the war.
Slavery in Brazil began long before the first Portuguese settlement was established in 1516, with members of one tribe enslaving captured members of another. Later, colonists were heavily dependent on indigenous labor during the initial phases of settlement to maintain the subsistence economy, and natives were often captured by expeditions called bandeiras. The importation of African slaves began midway through the 16th century, but the enslavement of indigenous peoples continued well into the 17th and 18th centuries.
Zephaniah Kingsley Jr. was a Quaker, born in England, who moved as a child with his family to South Carolina, and became a planter, slave trader, and merchant who built several plantations in the Spanish colony of Florida in what is now Jacksonville, Florida. He served on the Florida Territorial Council after Florida was acquired by the United States in 1821. Kingsley Plantation, which he owned and where he lived for 25 years, has been preserved as part of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, run by the United States National Park Service.
Slavery in Virginia began with the capture and enslavement of Native Americans during the early days of the English Colony of Virginia and through the late eighteenth century. They primarily worked in tobacco fields. Africans were first brought to colonial Virginia in 1619, when 20 Africans from present-day Angola arrived in Virginia aboard the ship The White Lion.
A slave plantation was an agricultural farm that used enslaved people for labour. The practice was abolished in most places during the 19th century.
José Antonio Aponte, often known as “Black” José Aponte, was a Cuban political activist and military officer of Yoruba origin who organized one of the most prominent slave rebellions in Cuba, the Aponte Conspiracy of 1812. He held the rank of first corporal in Havana's black militia, and was the leader of his local Yoruba association. Aponte was a free black carpenter in Havana was proclaimed to be the leader of a plot to rebel against the Cuban government, free the slaves and uplift free people of color, and overthrow slavery in Cuba. The movement struck several sugar plantations on the outskirts of Havana, but it was soon crushed by the government.
Slavery in Haiti started after the arrival of Christopher Columbus on the island in 1492 with the European colonists that followed from Portugal, Spain and France. The practice was devastating to the native population. Following the indigenous Tainos' near decimation from forced labor, disease and war, the Spanish, under advisement of the Catholic priest Bartolomé de las Casas and with the blessing of the Catholic church, began engaging in earnest in the 1600 kidnapped and forced labor of enslaved Africans. During the French colonial period beginning in 1625, the economy of Haiti was based on slavery, and the practice there was regarded as the most brutal in the world. The Haitian Revolution of 1804, the only successful slave revolt in human history, precipitated the end of slavery not only in Saint-Domingue, but in all French colonies. However, this revolt has only merited a marginal role in the histories of Portuguese and Spanish America. Moreover, it is to this rebellion in Haiti that the struggle for independence in Latin American can be traced to. However, several Haitian leaders following the revolution employed forced labor, believing a plantation-style economy was the only way for Haiti to succeed, and building fortifications to safeguard against attack by the French. During the U.S. occupation between 1915 and 1934, the U.S. military forced Haitians to work building roads for defense against Haitian resistance fighters.
Black Barbadians or African Barbadians are Barbadians of entirely or predominantly African descent.
Slavery in Latin America was an economic and social institution which existed in Latin America from before the colonial era until its legal abolition in the newly independent states during the 19th century, although it continued illegally in some regions into the 20th century. Slavery in Latin America began in the precolonial period, when indigenous civilizations including the Maya and Aztec enslaved captives taken in war. After the conquest of Latin America by the Spanish and Portuguese, over 4 million enslaved Africans were taken to Latin America via the Atlantic slave trade, roughly 3.5 million of those to Brazil.
Francisco de Arango y Parreño (1765-1837) was a Cuban planter and intellectual. He helped to oversee Spanish-ruled colonial Cuba's transformation into a major sugar and coffee producer in last decades of the eighteenth century and the first decades of the nineteenth.
Following Robert Cavelier de La Salle establishing the French claim to the territory and the introduction of the name Louisiana, the first settlements in the southernmost portion of Louisiana were developed at present-day Biloxi (1699), Mobile (1702), Natchitoches (1714), and New Orleans (1718). Slavery was then established by European colonists.