plantation slavery

In the early colonial period, Indian slaves were common in French households, but there was a steady increase in black slaves after the African slave trade began in the 1720s. By 1735, approximately 7,000 enslaved Africans were brought by ship to French Louisiana. Slaves were involved with most of the economic activities on plantations and some were apprenticed to artisans to learn crafts such as blacksmithing, joinery, and pottery making.Portions of the living quarters of the plantation slaves were revealed in the excavations at the Dog River site.

Africans, both free and enslaved, often made up the majority of the population in the colonial period. A 1745 census listed 150 white men and 200 Africans in the Mobile area. During the Spanish colonial period in 1791 there were 258 whites and 475 blacks. Miscegenation between masters and slaves, both Indian and African, created generations of Métis and mulattos. Some relationships were bonded by marriage and witnessed by the church, while others were common law arrangements.

The buried remnants of slave cabins and associated features at the Dog River plantation were found in the southernmost excavations far from the main occupation on the river bluff. The former Dog River bayou created a boundary between the slaves and the plantation family.

Structural remains consisted of a curved palisade that enclosed a small pieux en terre (post-in-ground) structure. The artifacts from these wall trenches suggest that they were occupied when the Rochons owned the plantation. During the Demouy plantation era, wooden slave cabins were built on posts.

Numerous small features interpreted as smudge pits containing carbonized corncobs and wood were found in the slaves' living area. The smoke produced by burning water-soaked corncobs drove off mosquitoes.
This dark pit contained refuse left by Indian slaves during the early plantation period. It contained fragments of at least 25 aboriginal ceramic vessels, 17 glass beads, lead shot, and well-preserved faunal remains of deer, turtles, and fish.
Pierced coins worn by African-American slaves for good luck or to ward off conjured spirits and illnesses, have been excavated from many plantation sites. This pierced 1840 silver U.S. dime found at the Dog River site strongly suggests this association with African-American folklore and spirituality.

Copyright © 2013 by The University of South Alabama
Last Updated:
Wednesday, August 14, 2013 2:56 PM