Life on the plantation

On the plantation, enslaved people continued their harsh existence. Gangs of enslaved people were worked from dawn until dusk under the orders of a white overseer.

People were whipped if they did not work hard enough. During harvest time, enslaved people worked in shifts of up to 18 hours a day.

Housing on the plantation

On the plantations, enslaved people lived in small cottages with thatched roofs, earth floors, a bed table and bench.

Mistreatment and punishment of slaves

White masters had complete control over the lives of 'their' enslaved people, who had no rights. Enslaved people who disobeyed or resisted were violently punished - in Antigua it was not a crime to kill an enslaved people until 1723.

The punishments given to enslaved people:

  • Captured 'runaways' could be hanged or maimed.
  • Enslaved people were often flogged with a whip.
  • The number of lashes that they received depended upon their ‘crime’.

Olaudah Equiano

Olaudah Equiano was a formerly enslaved person who published his own life story in 1789. He wrote:

  • It was very common...for slaves to be branded with the initial letter of the master’s name and a load of heavy iron hooks hung about their necks.
  • ...they were loaded with chains and often instruments of torture were added.
  • The iron muzzle, thumb screws etc...were sometimes applied for the slightest fault.

Equiano reported, I have seen a Negro beaten till some of his bones were broken for even letting a pot boil over.