Slavery from the Caribbean makes it way to the US…the 1600s
Charles Town, the first settlement of English colonists was established in April 1670. There were approximately 200 people who settled at what was known as Albemarle Point in the colony of South Carolina. Even before that first settlement there were attempts to create a plantation economy based on African slavery in1663. A group called Lord’s Proprietors in England were given land grants on the continent of North America (in The United States) from King Charles II as a repayment for their service and “loyalty” to the king the English Civil War. From this group, eight (8) of the Lords group consolidated their shares to create a company/business settlement.
The group consisted of a former Virginia governor named William Berkeley, a planter from the West Indies named John Colleton. Of the eight, Colleton had a background in planting and experiences in the United States. The other six Proprietors were George Monck, Duke of Albemarle, Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon; William Craven, Earl Craven; Lord John Berkeley; Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper; and Sir George Carteret. They sent representatives to research the best location to set up a sugar plantation. They were considering settling the land located between Virginia and Florida. Florida was colonized by Spain and England owned the neighboring colony of Virginia. However, to try to guarantee success and learn effective plantation practices, they sent people back to the Caribbean islands—particularly Barbados.
Set on success, the Lords group even recruited white settlers from Barbados, which at the time was owned by the British (it was an English colony). These white Barbadians brought enslaved Africans and enslaved African Barbadians with them to set up farms and plantations. While sugarcane did not take hold as a major crop of wealth their ways of setting plantations did take root. Carolina settlers survived by fur trade with the Indigenous around 1690 the settlers tried the plantation modeled on rice – which created a successful economic society.
The island of Barbados was originally colonized by England. Representing King James, Captain John Powell claimed the island on May 14, 1625. Claiming land was as simple as marking the land with a posting or caring information in a tree and even setting up a cross. On Feb. 20, 1627, there were 10 slaves brought over by Captain Henry Powell who landed with a party of 80 settlers to take over and “settle” the island. Captain Henry Powell was the bother of Captain John Powell.
According to South Carolina Encyclopedia, Barbados’ strong economy was due to the sugar plantations and established extreme wealth for planters and others who were involved—except slaves. The website stated that Barbados “had become an exceedingly wealthy, sugar-dominated economy by the time of South Carolina’s settlement in 1670.” These “settlers” were so eager to make their newly claimed settlements successful that they often sought advice, exchanged agricultural techniques, and even convinced, forced, or captured indigenous peoples to return with them to begin to plant and farm in the newly “settled areas.”
There were also instances where white settlers boarded ships to help settle the “New World.” Some of the places people went to for help included: South America in the country of Suriname formerly known as Dutch Guiana. Some of those who helped established successful colonies were often predecessor colonists who tried unsuccessfully to establish colonies in or near the same locations in the United States. In some cases, those involved in helping to set up colonies or who had failed attempts at establishing a colony went to other places like the Caribbean and became planters or built large plantations there and found wealth.
Sir John Colleton, who is said to have assisted or spearheaded the move to acquire the Carolina charter for the Lords ended up becoming a planter in Barbados. His move to the Caribbean was a result of the royalist loss during the Puritan Revolution. The parish of St. John Barbados is named after Colleton, who established a plantation some time between the years 1650 and 1660. The plantation still belonged to the Colleton family as late as 1834, sometime after the Caribbean Emancipation. Records show that in 1800 the plantation was registered to Charles Garth Colleton, a descendant.
Several Caribbean historians have documented the fact that slaves in the West Indies used the courts to argue their case for freedom. This was a common occurrence in the early days of colonization. Enslaved people in the Caribbean sought the courts to try to settle disputes from as early as 1788. The difficulty was that the enslaved were considered property, but also human subjects who should have able to use English laws to defend themselves. Enslaved people on Spanish Caribbean islands used to the courts extensively, scholars like Alejandro de la Fuente and Camelia Cowling establish this finding. In an interview about her book, Bonds of Empire: The English Origins of Slave Law in South Carolina and British Plantation America, 1660-1783, Lee B. Wilson tells about free black mariners who had been claimed as property, but appealed to the court in South Carolina that they were free because they were subjects of the king of Spain. The South Carolina court agreed with them. Clearly, more research and discussion surrounding this topic must be done. There is more to be discovered.