The book I am going to be reviewing is the Black Majority by Peter H. Wood. Woods does an extraordinary job on talking about the Slavery epidemic in South Carolina, and how it grew so much, that African Americans were the majority in South Carolina. He focused on the main reasons that they chose African slaves over any other kinds of slaves (European or Indian). Most people back then prefered Africans because of their previous knowledge and skills for the work they wanted them to perform.
Africans were also more resistant to certain diseases that already plagued Africa. They did not want Indian slaves because they could easily escape with their knowledge of the land, and they did not want indentured servants because they had to treat them better. Africans were their “best” option since they were all ready used to barren lands, cultivating rice, and herding large groups of animals, since the animals weren’t captive, and they could graze upon any food they could find.
The colonist also did not have much fear of Africans trying to escape because they were in unfamiliar territory and there would be no way they could escape back to Africa.
Since the Africans could do those things a whole lot better and more efficient, this led to their “masters” generating a lot more income. With this new surge of income, they could then purchase more and more slaves, increasing African population in South Carolina. The diseases that started sweeping through South Carolina, namely Yellow Fever and Malaria, caused the settlers to move them and their families out during cold months.
The Africans had already built immunity to these diseases so there was no need to remove them; with settlers dying from diseases, the population difference between settlers and African slaves started to decrease. This ended up leading to Africans become the majority in South Carolina, which in turn, made the Europeans settlers worried that they were becoming smarter and had more control over the economy. The Europeans then wanted to severely limit them on what they could do, so they passed laws (or slave acts) to try and control the Africans as much as possible. These restrictions caused turmoil between the African slaves and European colonists. The slaves started revolting against their “masters” (including poisoning them, taking from them, and even committing arson) , which was the cause for the Stono Rebellion.
Woods did a really excellent job on describing the rise of the African Slave trade in South Carolina. The book helped show the impact African slaves had on the colony, and how they helped the economy survive. The slaves were the “Middleman” when it came to anything dealing with business. They also would do more labor and were better at it than some of their “masters”. This included being fisherman, cultivators, herders, crafters, and builders, which is what caused the economy to thrive. Without them, the economy could have easily crashed. Woods also tells about African culture, how it was brought to the colonies, and why it was necessary. He also shows how “brave” the slaves were to revolt went they realized they were literally just slaves, not humans, to the white man. Woods also said the slaves would name their “children after the day of the week on which they were born(181)” in the African language to be able to keep some of their culture alive. This text went on to show me the hardships the slaves had to forcibly face just because a majority of the New World decided they could be less than human. It does a swell job of telling how Blacks became the majority in South Carolina, and how they used their numbers to “attack” the white man.