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Barbado'ed Scotland's Sugar Slaves part 2 of 4

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    ... lives or their experiences.
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    It was as if they were there but they did not exist.
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    They were the proverbial invisible people of the 17th century.
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    "This island is the dunghill
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    whereon England does cast forth its rubbish.
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    Rogues and whores and suchlike people
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    are those which are generally brought here.
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    In the most unsupportible captivity,
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    grinding at the mills,
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    attending the furnaces,
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    or digging in the scorching island,
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    having nothing to feed on but potato roots.
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    Bought and sold from one planter to another,
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    or attached as horses and beasts for the debts of their masters,
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    being whipped at the whipping post as rogues
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    for their master's pleasure."
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    The Africans are accustomed to the climate,
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    these people were not.
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    That is why in bond servants didn't really last in Barbados,
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    because they died off too quickly.
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    Furthermore, if you only, you only have use of the bonds for 5 or 6 years,
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    you've got everything you can out of him.
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    If you have a slave, you have him for life,
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    so you're likely to pay more attention to him.
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    That doesn't mean the blacks didn't suffer,
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    they suffered a lot.
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    [narrator] St Nicholas Abbey is in the Scotland district,
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    the oldest plantation house on the island,
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    dating back to 1658.
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    Until the 1940's it produced sugar and rum for export,
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    and will do again.
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    Larry Warren, an architect of poor white descent himself,
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    bought St Nicholas to make it a going concern once more,
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    but also as a living tribute to generations of both black and white Barbadians. [/narrator]
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    That mill is an embodiment of St Nicholas,
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    because at one stage in Barbados there were 110 or more of those mills on the island,
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    and that's the last remaining one.
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    Just by fate, it was preserved.
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    And I always reflect on St Nicholas too, because, um,
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    if you think about it,only 350 years of its history,
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    and all the cane fires, and potenial fires and problems and so on,
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    it survived,
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    and I believe it's actually, you know, kind of meant to happen.
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    But that mill, ehm, was really destined to be scrapped,
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    and then Colonel Lay, who was the owner here,
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    and someone with the Canadian government,
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    got together and they preserved it and brought it here.
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    In many respects, a lot of the people that do go to Barbados
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    feel so comfortable there,
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    they just don't go beyond to know the history of Barbados.
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    Of course, since owning St Nicholas,
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    I've read books on it,
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    and quite amazed at you know, the period around the 1650's,
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    and Oliver Cromwell and how he in fact transported all of these people here
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    to become slaves,
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    and in fact were treated as bad or even worse, yknow?
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    [narrator] Winston Gill, of Scottish descent,
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    has worked as ranger at St Nicholas Abbey for 30 years.[/narrator]
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    To most black people, they think they were the only ones that were in slavery,
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    but to some person who understand and know history
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    is that all _ were in slavery, the white and the black.
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    And the white was the first slave in Barbados.
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    By the end of the 17th century,
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    a lot of the white people that were doing manual labour on the estates,
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    were driven off in preference of the black,
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    because their production was not as great as the black,
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    so then they went on some to another market,
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    some went on to other Caribbean islands.
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    Well, the ones that stayed still continued to weather the storm on the island,
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    the white people were mainly centred around Bath and St John,
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    Churchill and
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    The Scottish that're left behind think that haggis and puddin' and souse.
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    People tell you that slaves invented puddin' and souse, but it never true.
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    Puddin' and souse Scottish _.
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    ... and what they call haggis,
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    we call it _ here.
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    [narrator] Apart from the local haggis,
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    the connections with Scotland can be seen in surprising places.
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    In the very brickwork, in fact,
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    of a plantation house like St Nicholas.
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    The poor seldom leave behind much evidence of their lives,
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    it's blown away in hurricanes
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    and writen out by the rich and powerful.
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    Fred Smith and his students are searching for clues
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    to the daily lives of those resilient forgotten people.
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    It's clear that poor whites lived very similar lives to black slaves in the early days.
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    The difference was class, not race.
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    You have to dig deep in this beautiful place to find evidence of suffering. [/narrator]
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    The archeological work that we've been doing here
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    has been focused on trying to get a general sense of plantation life here at St Nicholas Abbey.
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    There seems to be a preponderance of bowl forms,
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    um, and greater emphasis on bowls than on flatware plates,
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    and this probably reflects the emphasis on stewed foods,
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    whereas the planter's house has a great deal more flatware,
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    associated probably with roasts and other types of foods.
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    Rum today is the 2nd most widely consumed alcoholic beverage in the world,
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    but in the 17th century and the 18th century,
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    it was really a drink of enslaved peoples,
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    of poor whites, indentured servants, of sea men.
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    Life was very challenging,
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    especially the disease environment in early Barbados
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    in which many people were dying from a variety of tropical diseases,
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    uh, hurricanes, earthquakes, difficult place to live,
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    especially if you were poor, uh, or enslaved.
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    And so rum really kind of helped meet the challenges of daily life in Barbados,
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    and provided a temporary escape.
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    [narrator] One early settler wrote to his father:
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    "To send out 50 cases of good spirit,
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    and make no question than that you will have great gains from them,
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    they are generally such drunkards on this island,
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    that they will find coppers to buy their drinks,
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    although they go without themselves.
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    I have seen, upon the Sabbath day as I have been walking to church,
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    first one, presently another,
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    laying in the highway so drunk
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    that there be land crabs that have bit off some of their fingers,
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    some of their toes,
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    and have killed some before they have wakened."
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    They drank heavily,
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    in fact that was a common feature among these whites,
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    you know, they consume vast quantities of alcohol,
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    obviously that would have had some effect on overall health,
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    you know, many many years later.
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    [narrator] Our expectation of the West Indies,
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    that being white means being rich,
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    simply isn't true.
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    The descendants of those first servants who were cheated out of their inheritance,
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    entered a century and a half of social and economic paralysis,
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    subsistence farming, menial labour, and domestic service were the best they could hope for. [/narrator]
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    It was logical for the people of the time to conclude
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    that over-consumption of rum
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    led to this laziness, and this inability to work hard,
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    and the whole pejorative stereotype that developed associated with poor whites.
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    But actually there are medical reasons
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    that explain some of the dibilities.
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    A large percentage of the poor whites in Barbados who were too poor to have shoes,
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    and so who worked bare feet in the fields etc,
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    picked up parasitic infections,
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    particularly hookworm infections.
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    Somebody with masses of hookworms in their body
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    wouldn't be able to respond well to situations,
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    would stumble, slouch, would move very slowly,
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    and be seen sort of, like, the village idiot stereotype.
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    Enslaved Africans who didn't drink as much as the poor whites,
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    they had family networks,
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    they had large communities of people that could work together,
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    and sort of community networks that would help ease the challenges of everyday life.
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    Whereas poor whites tended to live sort of on the outskirts of communities,
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    very little opportunities for upward mobility,
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    and as a result, sort of lost themselves in drinking.
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    Part of the issue was that the whites remained by themselves,
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    and so you had a situation where there was quite a bit of inter-marrying.
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    Where you would have had quite a lot of families marrying each other.
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    First or second cousins marrying each other,
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    just _ for a white female to marry a black guy.
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    So, they married predominantly white men.
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    And of course, the whole issue of incest.
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    I mean, it's not a nice thing to speak about,
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    but that obviously happened in those type of communities.
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    If one looks very quickly at the demographic patterns and racial patterns in Barbados over time,
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    Barbados started as a white majority colony,
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    but by the 1660's it had become a black majority
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    where about 60% of the population was black, and 40% was white.
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    And what they did with this large poor white population on the island
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    was they used it as a buffer group between themselves and the black slave population.
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    And during the period of slavery
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    the poor white population was critical to the status and success
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    and if you like peace of mind of the planter class.
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    1640's you might have had maybe, ehm, 4 or 5 thousand black slaves,
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    but by 1660 you had about 60,000 slaves,
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    and the population moved down to about 10,000 whites and 60,000 blacks,
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    so they need to have some form of militia,
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    or military for internal security,
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    and the laws were made that for every 30 acres of land,
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    you had to have one able-bodied white man serving in the militia.
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    Once you were in that that rut of a poor white,
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    you had no education,
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    you may become an overseer,
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    ehm, you were not ever a land owner.
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    The women of the militia tenants also earned some money because of course
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    each plantation had the contractual or economic responsibility to supply clothes, etc
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    for the slave population,
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    and so many of these white women were employed as seamstresses etc.
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    [narrator] The poor make use of everything,
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    as Fred Smith finds out in the militia families croft. [/narrator]
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    Perhaps the most interesting finds were these tiny pieces pf ceramic,
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    that have been whittled down into, uh, what are gaming pieces.
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    These were probably used for chess or for backgammon.
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    We've also found a large number of buttons,
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    which suggest that perhaps somebody at some time at this house
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    may have been a seamstress or a tailor.
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    Here you can see even better the coral rubble construction techniques that were used,
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    uh, building these houses.
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    These were just coral rubble that were picked up from the ground and surrounding bedrock,
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    uh, pieced together using a lime plaster mortar
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    that would sort of bake the limestone
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    and get it into a powder form, add water,
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    and that would be the basis for sort of concrete in those days.
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    And it's very strong construction technique, as you can see.
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    [narrator] So it's weathered well. [/narrator]
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    Yeah it has certainly lasted.
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    [narrator] Ironically, things got worse for the poor whites after emancipation in 1834.
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    Apprenticed and experienced black slaves were able to transfer their skills to the free market.
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    Redlegs didn't have those skills,
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    and anyway, they didn't want to do work thay associated with black slavery,
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    identifying instead with the rich planters who wanted nothing to do with them. [/narrator]
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    During slavery, the slaves were not supposed to do anything that's skilled.
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    But of course, eh, there were skilled carpenters, who did all sorts of skilled work.
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    But they weren't supposed to.
Title:
Barbado'ed Scotland's Sugar Slaves part 2 of 4
Description:

The west coast of Barbados is known as a favorite winter destination for British tourists, ranging from the upmarket Sandy Lane resort to the all-drinks-included package holiday crowd arriving by economy class. Many will come from Scotland, but few will realise that just fourteen miles away on the rocky east side of the island live a community of McCluskies, Sinclairs and Baileys who are not, as might be expected, black Bajans bearing the family names given by slave owners centuries ago, but poor whites eking out a subsistence existence. Known as the Redlegs, they are the direct descendants of the Scots transported to Barbados by Cromwell after the Civil War. Scottish author and broadcaster Chris Dolan went to meet them to discover why they are still here 350 years later, what they know about their roots, and what their prospects are today when they are the poorest community on the island. Chris speaks to leading historians in Barbados and Scotland about how their ancestors were treated when they first arrived. Was their plight as severe as that of the black slaves from Africa? Nearly two centuries after emancipation, this Redleg community has yet to find a role on the island, where it is damned by association with the days of slavery, even though many of its forbears were victims themselves. In recent years, it has begun to come out of its racial isolation; could there yet be a hopeful future for this lost Scottish tribe?

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Video Language:
English
Duration:
13:01
Radical Access Mapping Project edited English subtitles for Barbado'ed Scotland's Sugar Slaves part 2 of 4
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