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Final Disertation

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Final Disertation

  1. 1. Is a Diachronic Comparative Study of Roman Slavery and Transatlantic Slavery a Necessity in the Development of Understanding of Slavery in Rome? 120201806 ARA 3002Word Count: 12,583
  2. 2. 120201806 i Acknowledgements This dissertation would not have been possible without the help of numerous people. First and foremost I would like to thank Dr Jane Webster for her patient guidance as supervisor for this dissertation, as well as her invaluable advice throughout. I would also like to thank my friends and family who have supported me throughout this project.
  3. 3. 120201806 ii Table of Contents Chapter 1: Introduction ..........................................................................................................................1 Chapter 2: History of Comparable Studies .............................................................................................5 2.1 Historical Context..........................................................................................................................5 2.2 Comparisons in Slavery.................................................................................................................5 2.3 The Key Themes in Comparative Studies....................................................................................10 2.4 Conclusion...................................................................................................................................11 Chapter 3: Insurrections .......................................................................................................................12 3.1. Introduction ...............................................................................................................................12 3.2. Insurrections ..............................................................................................................................12 3.3 Conclusion...................................................................................................................................22 Chapter 4: Manumission.......................................................................................................................24 4.1. Introduction ...............................................................................................................................24 4.2 We Will All Be Welcome In Virginia? Manumission in the New World......................................26 4.3. Manumission in Rome ...............................................................................................................30 4.4. Conclusion..................................................................................................................................33 Chapter 5 – Conclusion.........................................................................................................................34 5.1 Summary.....................................................................................................................................34 5.2. Areas for Further Study..............................................................................................................34 5.3. Conclusion..................................................................................................................................34 List of References..................................................................................................................................36 Primary Sources ................................................................................................................................36 Secondary Sources............................................................................................................................37 Images Used..........................................................................................................................................41
  4. 4. 120201806 iii Table of Figures Figure 2.1. Toussaint Louverture; ‘Chef des Noirs Insurgés de Saint Domingue’, by Jean de Beauvais c. 1802. Image Courtesy of Historic Hudson Valley. 7 Figure 3.1. A Newspaper clipping of a reward for the apprehension of a runaway slave Image Courtesy of Liberal Arts 14 Figure 3.2. A map detailing two possible routes Margaret Garner may have taken during her escape. It must be said that this is a modern map and therefore may not represent Garner’s true route Image Courtesy of Google Maps 14 Figure 3.3. ‘The Modern Medea’ (1867) by Thomas Satterwhite Noble based on Garner's story. Image Courtesy of playbillarts.com 15 Figure 3.4.Headline from a Cincinnati newspaper, detailing the arrest of Garner. Image courtesy of playbillarts.com 16 Figure 3.5. A map depicting the terrain of the island of Chios, Greece – Showing mainly mountainous and dense woodland areas Image Courtesy of Google Maps 19 Figure 3.6. Slave housing at the McLeod plantation, Charleston County, South Carolina. Image Courtesy of south-carolina-plantations.com 20 Figure 4.1. An example of an Oxyrhyncus Papyrus Image Courtesy of Spurlock Museum, Illinois. 24 Figure 4.2. Portrait of the Chief Justice John Rutledge Image Courtesy of Encyclopaedia Britannica. 26 Figure 4.3. Deed of Manumission for Francis Drake, May 23, 1791 Image Courtesy of the Library of Virginia 28 Figure 4.4. The Cinerary urn of the freedman Tiberius Claudius Chryseros Image Courtesy of Flick River. 30
  5. 5. 120201806 iv Abstract The principal aim of this dissertation is to ascertain whether a diachronic comparative approach to the history of slavery in the Roman world and the transatlantic world adds to the understanding of slavery in the Roman world. This is achieved by analysing previous literature as well as encompassing my own comparative research. Beginning with the history of slavery in both the New World and Rome, this thesis summarises the current state of comparative research within academia. Following this, this dissertation engages with slave insurrections and the comparable features between both periods and how this specific feature of slavery highlights the necessity of a diachronic comparison. A comparative study of manumissions in the slave worlds is then presented, highlighting the key legal restraints placed upon the process of manumission within the New World and Rome. Finally, this dissertation provides a comprehensive assessment on the necessity of a diachronic comparative approach in regards to slavery in Rome and the transatlantic world.
  6. 6. 120201806 1 Chapter 1: Introduction For many years we have been told the Roman past is too unique to compare it with other empires or republics. Recently some scholars have argued however that when it comes to slavery we can compare (Webster: 2008, Urbainczyk: 2008, Schiedel: 2011b). This dissertation will aim to assess through the discussion of manumission and insurrections whether a diachronic comparison with Rome and the New World is necessary in the understanding of the Roman slave past, I will also comment on the body of comparative work that is already available. For quite some time both modern and ancient historians have been eager to compare and scrutinize ancient and modern slave owning societies. Greek and Roman historians have however, often been less inclined to follow suit. When they do study the aspect of slavery they almost entirely do so within Graeco-Roman confines (Webster: 2008: 103). Their reluctance is without question due to a collective thought that the use of comparative studies undermines the uniqueness of the classical past and the influences that the Graeco-Roman period has had on the development of the west (Terrenato: 2005: 62). Terrenato (2002: 1109) divulges further stating that the general consensus regarding classicity is that it ‘must be reverentially explored and dusted, but it cannot be compared with, or measured on the same scale as, the rest of the human past’. Schiedel (2011b:4) also comments on the importance of comparisons between different slave- owning economies; ‘without comparisons we can never know if particular outcomes were common or rare, and which variables were endowed with causative agency.’ Therefore, the study of a single society in history can only result in arbitrary claims about the accumulation of untestable data in regards to the significance of the data. Oakes (1990: 37-8) introduces crucial criteria for the comparison of the dichotomy of ‘slave societies’ and ‘societies with slaves’. Rome was undoubtedly more of a slave society than the majority of societies throughout history however it is less so than the slave systems of the New World, which potentially could not have existed in ‘any even remotely comparable form without slavery’ (Oakes: 1990: 38). There is one particular problem to address when comparing slave systems such as Rome and the transatlantic world. It is often perceived that the more developed a society, that society’s use of slaves would be more diverse in terms of jobs. The New World highlights vast race divides were insisted upon which, unlike in Rome, led to slaves being unable to hold certain higher occupations that would lead to interaction with Anglo-American people (Miers and Kopytoff: 1979:58).
  7. 7. 120201806 2 Aims 1. To assess the impact a comparative approach to Roman slavery would have on the understanding of slavery in the classical past 2. To critically analyse the approach to Roman slavery 3. To use manumissions and insurrections to identify comparisons relating to Roman slavery (2nd century BC – 5th century AD) and the Transatlantic slave trade (16th – 19th centuries AD) Objectives 1. Identify key cultural similarities and differences between classical slavery and historical slavery in order to assess the impact a comparable study would have on the understanding of the classical past (A1) 2. To review written comparisons of the Roman slave trade and the transatlantic slave trade in order to evaluate the pre-existing literature (A2) 3. Assess the quality of written sources to establish an understanding of compatible comparisons between the Roman slave trade and the Transatlantic slave trade (A3) 4. Compare and contrast the slave insurrections of the Roman slave trade and the Transatlantic slave trade in order to establish similarities (A3) 5. Identify the legal aspect of slavery to ascertain whether there is a correlation between the Roman slave trade and the transatlantic slave trade (A3) 6. Assess manumissions during the slave trade of both the Roman era and the Transatlantic era to understand the cultural, social and economic importance of slavery, through documented evidence (A1&A3) In this dissertation I will focus on manumissions and insurrections because they highlight that a comparable evaluation can aid in the understanding of Roman slavery. Insurrections within slavery are an important indicator as to the political, social and economic status of the society. The
  8. 8. 120201806 3 insurrections of Spartacus in the Roman period (73-71BC) and the rebellion in Haiti (1791 – 1804), show the similarities between slave revolts in the Roman era and in the transatlantic slave era. An important factor that this paper will focus on is not only the impact that slave rebellions had on the society but also the aims and objectives of the slave revolts. Therefore, I will not follow Finley’s concept that only a true comparison can be had between the American south and the Roman Empire but also look at the Caribbean and South America because there are comparisons that can be made in regards to Insurrections (Finley: 1982: 201-211). Manumission is the act of freeing a slave and this is important in a comparable study because there were legal constraints implemented to control the amount of slaves being freed. In the study of Roman manumissions historians are largely interested in gathering numerical data, such as how many slaves were freed and the rate of manumission (Roth: 2010: 91). Nevertheless, in spite of the difficulty of assessing the numbers of manumissions it is widely regarded as a feature that is distinctive with the Roman world (Bradley: 1987: 81). Freedman in Rome were often heavily reliant on their former masters and laws such as the Lex Aelia Sentia (4AD). The Lex Aelia Sentia not only set criteria that the slave had to meet but also that the master must adhere to. The widespread domination of slaves as a primary social relationship made Rome a ‘slave society,’ especially when slaves and ex-slaves continuously relied upon owners and patrons and facilitated their interaction with the freeborn population of the Roman Empire (Scheidel: 2010: 2). Manumission in the transatlantic world is a widely researched area, the southern states in particular passed laws on the manumission of slaves during the 19th century stating that a slave could only be freed by their master if they had performed a ‘meritorious service’ (Klebaner: 1955: 443). The legal obligations of an American slave owner was to support a slave during the slave’s life and it is often stated that the laws against manumission were in place to ensure these obligations were met. The previous work on the manumission of slaves in America is vast and due to its relatively modern history compared to that of Rome, it allows for a thorough in-depth study of the legislation imposed. The works of historians such as Klebaner (1955) and Handler (1984) have established a critique of the legal procedures in place but have not looked for a comparative approach within history and I believe that achieving this is a crucial aspect of my thesis. Following my in depth research into the area of a comparative study of the transatlantic slave trade and the slave trade of the romans I have realised that there is only a minority of scholars in the world who have attempted a direct comparative study. This dissertation will discuss the key similarities within the Roman slave world and the transatlantic slave world in order to ascertain whether a comparative approach is a necessity in the continual understanding of slavery in the
  9. 9. 120201806 4 classical world. I believe that a complete comparative study is crucial in the development of the literature and my dissertation will show this through the comparisons of both manumissions and insurrections.
  10. 10. 120201806 5 Chapter 2: History of Comparable Studies 2.1 Historical Context The transportation of slaves across the Atlantic took place from 1501 to 1866, in the space of 365 years and is one of the largest forced migrations in history. The transatlantic slave trade saw the transportation of 12, 521, 3361 African slaves to the Caribbean, South America and to Northern America, however the horrendous conditions the enslaved were kept in saw that only 10, 702, 656 disembarked at the end of the voyage (Eltis: 2010). This equates to an estimated loss of 4983 per year. The transportation of slaves across the Atlantic took place from 1501 to 1866, in the space of 365 years and is one of the largest slave trades in history. The largest slave trade in history was established in the Roman world, primarily in the Imperial era (27BC – 476AD). Scheidel (2011a:18) states that the enslavement of individuals in the Roman world can be regarded as one of the ‘darkest chapters in human history’. The staggering number of slaves transported by the Romans is astonishing, however these numbers are approximates due to the lack of definitive evidence such as logging catalogues and ship inventories that are in abundance when studying the transatlantic slave trade. During the existence of the Roman superpower, from republic to empire, it is theorised that at least 100 million people were enslaved over a period of a thousand years (Scheidel: 2011a: 18). This may be a longer period of time than that of the transatlantic slave trade enslavement in the latter case continued at the same rate over a thousand years, the total number of slaves would havebeen far smaller than the number enslaved by Rome; some 33, 807, 607.2 2.2 Comparisons in Slavery Slave insurrections were a common features in both the Roman world and the New World and this similarity will be a common theme within this thesis, chapter three will discuss this further. Keith Bradley (1989: 126) has argued that the two Sicilian wars and the revolt of Spartacus were not in any sense political rebellions but rather the result of slaves simply wanting to be free. There is no evidence that has been discovered thus far that reveals the aims and objectives of the slave 1 This is an imputed figure, please see Eltis, D., Behrendt, S., Richardson, D. and Klein, H., eds. (2011), Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, Available HTTP: http://www.slavevoyages.org/ 2 This is an imputed figure, calculated by myself using existing figures from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database
  11. 11. 120201806 6 rebellions in antiquity. The slave rebellions that took place in the classical world, in comparison with those in the transatlantic world, had contrasting effects. The overt resistance of the slaves on the sugar plantation in Ilheus, Brazil (1789), saw slaves demand an improvement in their living and working conditions (Urbaincyzk: 2008: 98), which only has similarities in the ancient Greece, which saw the slaves on the island of Chios act in the same manner. The slaves of the Ilheus sugar plantation represented a revolutionary threat but it is one that has no parallel in the Roman world of slavery (Bradley: 1989: 103). Furthermore, comparisons that have been drawn between the rebellion of Spartacus and the uprising in Haiti (1791 – 1804) which is infamous for the leadership and military tactics of Toussaint Louvertue (Figure 2.1.). The rebellion in Saint Domingue began as a challenge to French imperial authority but it soon developed into a racial battle and the overarching aim of abolishing slavery took prominence (Dubois: 2004: 3).
  12. 12. 120201806 7 Figure 2.1. Toussaint Louverture; ‘Chef des Noirs Insurgés de Saint Domingue’, by Jean de Beauvais c. 1802. Image Courtesy of Historic Hudson Valley http://american- arcadia.hudsonvalley.org/sites/default/files/imagecache/f ull/sites/default/files/images/toussaint_louverture.jpg
  13. 13. 120201806 8 The study of manumission is crucial in the continual development of a diachronic comparative study of slavery in the New World and Rome. The notion of manumission within a slave world is crucial for both slave and master, as the hope for freedom can lead to the cooperation and smooth running of an estate and this theory is established within modern scholarly works (Roth: 2010: 91). When studying manumission in both slave worlds, an indicator of the similarities between the two are defined within the legal practices of the societies. Alas, once again the study of the Roman world faces the familiar stumbling block of the lack of reliable statistics. Although Scheidel (2011a) has attempted to understand the volume of the slave migration in the Roman world, there is very little evidence for the number of slaves, freed slaves or the rate of manumission (Mourtisen: 2013: 43). It is often the way that modern scholars will refer in a fleeting comment to Cicero’s Philippics (8.32) in order to understand the way in which manumission was achieved, Cicero explaining that a well behaved slave may expect to be freed after a period of time. The use of Cicero in this manner illustrates that scholars have struggled due to the lack of solid quantification of manumission in the Roman world and therefore rely upon the rhetoric of a contemporary source (Mourtisen: 2013: 43). The nature of slavery removes the person’s freedom and transforms the person into property. It has been argued however, that the modern attempts to understand the legal doctrine established by the Romans to define absolute property are in fact misguided in their attempts and often use the legal precedents of Rome to define the meaning of slavery itself rather than the notion of ‘absolute property’ (Patterson: 1982: 32). Therefore, not only do the interpretations obscure the information needed to reinforce a specific theory they also can confuse the point of law by attaching modern legal and sociological views upon them; through the misinterpretation of the Roman slave law it may influence consequent Western conceptions of slavery (Patterson: 1982: 32). The practice of manumission would make no sense if the slave owners freed the slaves that were crucial to the running of the household and the estate if the freed slave was not expected to continue their service in the household as a freedman (Mourtisen: 2013: 58). Once a slave had been freed, and if they decided to leave the household the problem arose that the owner was essentially losing a vital aspect in the continuation of a reproducing slave population within the house. Children born into slavery in the Roman world were known as vernae, and they would often be trained to replace the older slaves, occasionally the elite would replace the freedman with a newly purchased slave if there were no in-house apprentices available (Mourtisen: 2013: 59). Webster (2010: 8) has argued that this particular aspect of slavery can be referred to as an ‘internal diaspora’. This however does allow for a comparison of the New World with the Roman world, as previously discussed those born into slavery in the Roman world were called ‘vernae’ and in the New World
  14. 14. 120201806 9 they were called ‘creoles’. The naming of the slaves in the Americas once again shows strong links with the Roman world, often slaves were given names upon arrival at market and classical names were used such as Cato, Flavia, Pompey and Caesar (Cody: 1987). Despite the agreement in modern scholarly works that manumission was a key component in reducing slave insurrections, how realistic manumission would have been and how it may have been achieved is continuously debated (Roth: 2010: 91). Dio (53. 25. 4) claims that slaves may be freed after twenty years of service, however it is more likely that in smaller houses that manumission would have been rarer due to the unpredictability of the change of status, whereas the slaves in elite houses would have more chance of receiving their freedom because the owners had the means to replace those that were freed (Mourtisen: 2013: 62). Alfoldi (1972: 122) argued that in the Roman world, slavery was predominantly a transitional period in a person’s life that resulted in slaves gaining a recognised and ‘if not fully equal’ place in the Roman citizen community. To refer to slavery as a ‘transitional state’ is a ridiculous notion, as slavery during any part of history is a life of being dominated and owned, with no prosperity or freedom. I believe the number of insurrections and slave wars within both the Roman world and transatlantic world proves that the slaves did not view slavery as a ‘transitional’ period in their lives which resulted in fighting for their freedom. Manumission in the transatlantic world was also regulated by law but the freeing of slaves had a different outcome for the slaves themselves compared to those in the Roman world. Freedman in the transatlantic world were encouraged to leave the area and settle elsewhere, in contrast to other slave societies such as Muslim countries, and the Roman world where freed slaves became clients to their former masters (Brunschvig: 1960:30; Bloch 1947:216). Manumission and the slave’s access to legal freedom within a slave society has long been of interest to the scholars of the transatlantic slave world. The freeing of slaves in the transatlantic world reflects a fundamental aspect of a slave society and it has helped in our understanding on how the Anglo- American’s defined a slaves ‘moral personality’ (Handler &Pohlmann: 1984: 390-391). In seventeenth-century Barbados, as reflective of other English colonies, there were three means of attaining manumission; legislative and court actions, deed conveyances, and wills and testaments. Many slaves may have believed that a verbal assurance from their master guaranteed their freedom but during this period that was not the case, however in future years more means of manumission were employed (Handler &Pohlmann: 1984: 394). Webster (2008: 113) argues that; ‘racial and colour prejudice did not necessarily walk hand in hand’ for the Roman slave-owners and this may be a contributing factor in Isaac’s (2006: 32-46) argument that the Mediterranean world created proto- racism but was not itself inherently racist. During the
  15. 15. 120201806 10 sixteenth and eighteenth century, Deetz (1996:224) has argued that it was not racial prejudice that was used to justify the forced migration but the fact that the African people were not Christian and were for sale. The ideology of colour prejudice did not emerge until a later date, when the economic mainstay of plantations was a necessity and therefore it was ideal to fabricate reasoning for the enslavement of Africans (Webster: 2008: 114). Roman slavery, however, is often not perceived as racist but racial prejudice was more common than often suggested with Roman Africans often being subjected to offensive comments aimed towards their appearance (Bauman: 2000: 120-122). Race was a complex issue in the Americas and Rome as well as views on colour and the two are often connected, but the development of racial segregation in the southern states of America in the eighteenth and nineteenth century should not discourage those who study antiquity from engaging in a comparative study with the New World (Webster: 2008: 114). 2.3 The Key Themes in Comparative Studies Moses Finely is widely regarded as a pioneer in the field of comparative slavery studies, and is exceptional in the classical discipline due to his acknowledgement that comparative studies are fundamental in understanding and re-evaluating the classical past. Patterson (1982: 12) commented on Finley’s contribution to the field of comparative study; ‘all of us who work on the comparative study of slavery are in intellectual debt to Sir Moses Finley’. Yet, the respect that has been shown to Finley’s work has hindered the development of comparative studies. Finley (1982: 201- 211) was of the opinion that there were only a few ‘genuine’ slave systems in world history; Ancient Athens, Imperial Rome, nineteenth century United States and Brazil, however many modern scholars have argued that this is too limiting (Higman: 2001, Bradley: 1994). Patterson (2008: 33) has referred to the concept of ‘genuine slave societies’ as absurd. Scheidel (2011b) has recently begun comparing the Roman Empire with the Han Empire and this highlights the changing attitudes towards what can be compared throughout history. Therefore, ancient historians who are interested in comparative studies should not focus solely on Finley’s ‘genuine’ slave societies but rather turn to the archaeology of slavery in areas often overlooked such as; Peru and some Caribbean Islands, where slavery was an important feature of the local economy but was not essential to its growth (Webster: 2008: 114). Documentation of the New World slave system reveals the slaves as merely names and numbers and very few contemporary sources are by those of African descent. A first-hand account of events by a slave is rare and none survive in antiquity which results in the history of slavery being written by the master and not by the slave. This may lead to the corruption of the truth as the author aims to remove himself from any perceived wrongdoing. Therefore, we can only view slaves in both the
  16. 16. 120201806 11 classical past and in more recent times through documentation provided by the slave owning class (Webster: 2008: 114-115). Walter Scheidel (2003:581) argues that a perceived lack of archaeological evidence has led ancient historians to believe that archaeology cannot be useful in the comparative field in relation to slavery. Scheidel continues to champion the importance of comparable studies and has critiqued papers such as Schumacher’s (2001). Schumacher deliberately avoids using the application of modern theories and models and thus defines slavery in purely Roman term. Schumacher understands a slave to be ‘a person who is directly subject to total, i.e. unlimited and lasting, force of a master’ (Schumacher: 2001: 13). The use of such a definition allows Schumacher to distance his work form contemporary scholars, who define slavery through sociological criteria as; ‘a condition of natal alienation and general dishonour equivalent with social death’ (Patterson: 1982: 32). Scheidel(2003: 581) does give an explanation for why he believes archaeology is often relegated to a supporting role alongside the use of textual evidence, and he further comments implying that the archaeological record can never be seen as pivotal to the field of comparative studies until it can bring forth new information that is separate from textual evidence. Hall (2000:16) argues that textual evidence and archaeological evidence must be combined to illuminate the misconceptions that have plagued ancient historians in regards to the importance of archaeology. Therefore, it is crucial that the use of both archaeology and textual evidence are used in tandem to further our understanding of the slave world in both Rome and the New World. 2.4 Conclusion This thesis will further elaborate on the topics discussed and will establish that a diachronic comparative study of the transatlantic world and Rome is a necessity in understanding slavery in the Roman world. The comparative approaches taken by Webster (2005;2008; 2010), Katsari and Del Lago (2008a; 2008b) and Morris (1994) have begun to explore the potential in comparing the New World with the Roman world and thus reignited the debate amongst scholars as to whether a fresh approach is needed in the field of slavery or whether, as Terranato (2002: 1109) ironically remarks, that classical history is something that must be ‘reverentially explored and dusted, but it cannot be compared with, or measured on the same scale as, the rest of the human past’. Through research and careful observations of topics such as manumission, in chapter 4, and insurrections, in chapter 3, as well as the wider scope of slavery in both the Roman world and the New World I have come to the conclusion that there is substantial evidence to suggest that a diachronic comparative approach to slavery in the classical past is a necessity.
  17. 17. 120201806 12 Chapter 3: Insurrections 3.1. Introduction Slave rebellions in the classical world have often been overlooked and sometimes dismissed as insignificant in regards to the history of Rome. This attitude may be due to the lack of focus on slave rebellions within the ancient texts, but upon re-examination of sources such as Diodorus and Livy the ancient sources placed far more importance on slave revolutions and the crucial nature of the slaves than do many modern scholars. This may be due to the persistence of slavery; slaves may rebel and fight the counterattacks of Rome for some time but in the end defeat is inevitable and the Roman world changes very little. This may be the cause of such a blasé attitude to slavery by modern scholars in comparison to the ancient authors (Urbaincyzk: 2008: 1). Within this chapter I will discuss the insurrections in both the New World and the Roman world and suggest that comparative analysis is a necessity for the study of insurrections in Roman contexts. 3.2. Insurrections ‘The evidence, on the contrary, points to the conclusion that discontent and rebelliousness were not only exceedingly common, but, indeed, characteristic of American Negro slaves’ (Aptheker: 1993: 374). The transatlantic slave trade saw many rebellions take place during transportation, such as the Amistad (1839), but the rebellions did not cease after disembarking the ships and arriving in the colonies of the Caribbean, South America and the New World (Small &Walvin: 1994: 43). Insurrections were carried out in a multitude of ways, not only in the overt resistance that are engrained into the historical records but also in a small scale manner too. Covert resistance would see slaves deliberately work slowly, feign illness or infirmity and even pretend to not understand their masters’ and overseers, which would slow productivity and infuriate their owners (ibid.). The resistance to slavery is ‘testimony to the indomitable will of the human spirit’ (Small &Walvin: 1994: 49). The plethora of examples that I shall discuss within this chapter will highlight the fact that Africans resisted in many ways, even as far as to spit, urinate and pollute their master’s food or even fight back when being punished physically. There were different reasons for these acts of insurrection. The possible reasons behind the rebellious acts are that the slaves did not accept the attempts to control every aspect of their lives by their masters, or the constant domination and even
  18. 18. 120201806 13 fought against certain excesses (ibid.). To understand the resistance of the slaves reveals the strength and unfaltering nature of the African spirit in the face of such adversity as slavery, and that although they were victims of the transatlantic slave trade they did not adhere to a victim mentality (ibid.). Many revolts were uncoordinated events that occurred through desperation in the face of extreme brutality, starvation, being stripped of certain privileges or other conditions (Genovese: 1979: 3). Occasionally the revolts would erupt into large scale slave wars such as the ones in; Saint- Domingue (Haiti) (1791), Jamaica (1730-40; 1795-96), Grenada (1795-97), Antigua (1735-36) and South Carolina (1739). Slaves understood that revolting against their masters would result in torture and the loss of many lives of their own people, but this did not prevent them for fighting against the violent and barbaric domination they were repressed by (Small &Walvin: 1994: 44). The violence of the slave owners would prove to be pivotal in the abolitionist movement, as many in Britain in the early 19th century saw that if brutal and counter-productive acts of violence were what was necessary to keep slavery in place then slavery may have reached its economically prosperous end (ibid). The vicious nature of the punishment for slaves who rebelled are documented well and there are many accounts such as in Antigua in the aftermath of Tackey’s revolt (1735-1736) where there were 86 slave executions with 77 of the rebels were burned alive. In Barbados in 1816 four hundred slaves were executed, in Demerara (1823) two hundred and fifty slaves were executed (ibid.). Beckles (1987:21) cites the preamble to the law passed in Barbados in 1661, An Act for the Better Ordering and Governing of Negroes, declared that slaves were ‘heathenish, brutish and a dangerous kind of people’. Consequently, colonial lawmakers deemed it appropriate that ‘criminal slaves should be branded, whipped, mutilated, suffer amputation of limbs and capital punishment for crimes like rebellion’. Furthermore Stephen (1824: 7-9) states that; ‘for the wretches who had committed the diabolical crime of insurrection the slaves were roasted alive, hung up in irons to perish of thirst, shut up in a cage and starved to death’, and that rebellion was a crime ‘of such a nature, that you always annex to it the most excruciating pain’. The brutal punishments dealt to those who revolted in a large scale armed response were intended to deter further slave wars. One way in which slaves continued to rebel was by running away. Slave owners would often advertise bounties for the return of their slaves in (see figure 3.1.).
  19. 19. 120201806 14 One significant story that survives from the period is that of Margaret Garner who, in 1856, escaped from a Maplewood plantation on Richwood Road in Boone County, Kentucky by crossing the frozen Ohio River. Garner managed to arrive as far as Mill Creek, Cincinnati, Ohio, and hide with her freed cousin, Elijah Kite, before being tracked down by the U.S Marshalls (approximately seven hours walking, 21 miles) (See Figure 3.2). Upon realising she had been caught, instead of seeing her two year old daughter re-enter slavery she killed her, almost decapitating her in an attempt to slit her throat. Garner is to reportedly have said ‘I will go singing to the gallows rather than be returned to slavery’ (Davis: 1981: 21). Figure 3.1. A Newspaper clipping of a reward for the apprehension of a runaway slave. Image Courtesy of Liberalarts.edu http://americanabolitionist.liberalarts.iupui.edu/resistance.htm Figure 3.2. A map detailing two possible routes Margaret Garner may have taken during her escape. It must be said that this is a modern map and therefore may not represent Garner’s true route ©Google Maps
  20. 20. 120201806 15 Garner escaped with her husband and four children (three of which were described as ‘mullato’ (a person of dual heritage) and it is theorised that her children were also of her owners, Archibald Gaines. The title given to the painting by Noble (Figure 3.3.) was chosen because in ancient mythology Medea killed her children to spite Jason (the father) for leaving her for another woman. Historians have theorised that Margaret Garner may have killed her child and attempted to kill her three other children because Archibald Gaines would not let her escape him (Brunings: 2004: 4). This however, cannot detract from the fact that the thought of her child re-entering slavery would have been unbearable. During the recapture of Garner and her family, a Marshall was shot and injured before the melee ended, the furore surrounding the case of Garner was reported in the local newspapers (Figure 3.4.). Figure 3.3. ‘The Modern Medea’ (1867) by Thomas Satterwhite Noble which is based on Garner's story. Image Courtesy of playbillarts.com http://www.playbillarts.com/features/article/6963-My-Journey- from-Beloved.html
  21. 21. 120201806 16 Throughout the slave trade many slaves ran away and this culminated in the creation of slave communities known as maroons. Maroons appeared in number during the late 18th and the 19th centuries and these communities emphasised the attempts to overthrow slavery as a social system which is completely without contrast and would have been completely unknown to slaves in antiquity (Genovese: 1979: 4). The maroons originally were founded as communities of self-freed slaves in the large islands and less settled colonies and eventually maroon communities could be found across the Americas (Small &Walvin: 1994: 44-45). The communities of maroons that were the most substantial and longer lasting were situated in areas where the number of whites was small and the terrain was treacherous (i.e. mountains and swamps), and thus the whites found it difficult to remove and defeat the ex-slaves (ibid.). Evidence has been uncovered that leads to the understanding that maroon communities were established within the swamps and mountains of the Southern states of American and that several of these communities raided plantations, attacking and murdering whites for several years (ibid.). The maroons, however, were not solely committed to other slaves and there is evidence of a collaboration with whites throughout the slave world, one poignant example is during the revolution in Saint-Domingue, Haiti (1791). The maroons supported the French against the slaves and became allies with Napoleon’s forces that had come to restore slavery and quash the revolution. At first this alliance may seem strange but the maroons may have struck the alliance to protect their own autonomy against any power whether it be slaves or not (Genovese: 1979: 55). Yet the presence of a community of self-freed slaves had a destructive impact Figure 3.4.Headline from a Cincinnati newspaper, detailing the arrest of Garner. Image courtesy of playbillarts.com http://www.playbillarts.com/features/article/6963-My-Journey-from- Beloved.html
  22. 22. 120201806 17 on slavery and became a beacon of hope for freedom and therefore encouraged disaffection, desertion and even rebellion. Maroons were capable of delivering considerable disruptions to the slave trade through retaliation against the whites, who were deemed to be significantly brutal towards slaves. In Surinam, the governor’s representative (Captain Stedman) was sent to sue for peace in 1757 with a maroon community and the leader rejected his proposal asking the question, how could Europeans ‘claim to be civilised and yet treat slaves so cruelly’ (Genovese: 1979: 56). Stedman recounted the speech for documentation and it raises obscurities in relation to the beliefs of the maroon communities that may otherwise have been overlooked, the speech allegedly goes as follows: ‘We desire you to tell the governor and your court that in case they want to raise no new gangs of rebels, they ought to take care that the planters keep a more watchful eye over their own property, and do not trust them so frequently to the hands of drunken managers and overseers, who … are the ruin of the colony and wilfully drive to the woods such numbers of stout, active people, who by their sweat earn your subsistence, without whose hands your colony must drop to nothing, and to whom at last, in this disgraceful manner, you are glad to come and sue for friendship.’ (ibid.). The maroon communities’ concern for slave welfare is obvious, however, it does reveal that they do not seem to be committed to the overhaul of slavery but in fact are willing to see slavery remain intact. The speech does show that the maroon communities of Surinam did attempt to influence the way in which slaves were treated and being able to advise the whites on how to treat their own ‘property’ does show the remarkable power the maroons had in relation to keeping the status quo. Therefore, the maroons showed a key interest in the development of slave conditions and their treatment within their environment, but they did seem to accept the legal entitlement that whites held over the slaves. This has led to beliefs that the existence of maroon communities retarded the development of an abolitionist movement as people would not dare to publically voice and opinion that agreed with slave rebellions (Matthews: 2006: 32). The unpredictable nature of the maroons within the slave worlds of the Caribbean and the Americas may not have intended to directly influence those enslaved but the existence of such communities are responsible for igniting the spark of revolution in all those who remained enslaved. The study of the insurrections of the transatlantic slave world can shed light on those of the Roman world and a diachronic comparison is a necessity in the continual development of our understanding of slavery in antiquity. The large slave rebellions such as that of Spartacus (73-71 B.C.) and those in Sicily (135-132 B.C., 104-100 B.C.) indicate the similarities between the New World and the colonies with the Roman world, and I will continue to discuss this point in the following narrative, using key
  23. 23. 120201806 18 scholarly texts such as Urbainczyk (2008), Finley (1982) and Patterson (1982) and Bradley (1989). Nevertheless the continual development of the comparative field has seen a resurgence in the focus on the classical world and this is a key theme in the rewriting of slave rebellions (Katsari& Del Lago: 2008). The focus on comparative approaches has allowed for new information and new understandings to be presented and consequently provided a more thorough understanding of the Roman slave world. The issue in question is whether the insurrections of slaves in antiquity can be successfully understood through a comparative approach incorporating the modern slave societies. Slaves rebelled in a plethora of ways in the classical world; they often decided between fight and flight just like slaves in the transatlantic world. Many slaves decided to take flight (Urbaincyzk: 2008: 1). The evidence for such events is scarce in the classical world but there are brief accounts of slaves absconding as well as covert resistance, however, the majority of the evidence focuses on overt resistance such as the famous slave rebellions of Spartacus (73-71 B.C.) and the Sicilian slave wars (135-132 B.C., 104-100 B.C.) which are prominent in history. When slaves resorted to escaping from their masters it was often for individual purposes, but it is possible that slaves that absconded could have formed communities comparable to maroon communities. The comparisons may combine but it is important to clarify that there is no obvious parallel in the Roman world for maroon communities. There is a record from Greece, within the works of Nymphodorus of Syracuse who is referenced by Athenaeus concerning a slave named Drimacus, who was a leader of an organised group of slaves who governed their self-established community on the island of Chios (approx. First half of the 3rd century B.C.). The organised band of slaves were acting in a maroon community mentality and therefore can highlight the existence of maroon communities within antiquity that may have been overlooked by modern scholars who were not searching for such connections but rather focusing on the rebellion within Greek history. ‘The Chians’ slaves ran away from them and made off into the mountains where they gathered in large numbers and did a lot of damage to their country estates. The island is rough and covered with trees’ (Athenaeus cited in Bradley: 1989: 38-40). The topographical description of the area (Figure 3.5.) in which the slaves created their community shares similarities with those in the Caribbean and South America, it was mountainous and most probably wooded, which aided the guerrilla style warfare of maroon communities. Further similarities are highlighted throughout the passage of Athenaeus with the Chian rebels suing for peace with their masters and signing a treaty, this account suggests that the Chian rebels had the same motivation as the rebelling slaves in Ilheus, Brazil. The details of this account has remarkably
  24. 24. 120201806 19 similar features to that of a maroon community (Bradley: 1989: 40). Suetonius describes in his works ‘Augustus 3.1’ that when C. Octavius was travelling to begin his governorship of Macedonia he had to undertake a special command that required ‘wiping out a band of runaway slaves (fugitivi) from the armies of Spartacus and Catiline, who held possession of the country of Thurii’ (Suetonius: Augustus 3.1). The passage shows clearly that despite the defeat of the slave rebellion led by Spartacus and also the remnants of the army of L. Sergius Catilina, the servile population that had been associated with the rebellion had not yet been utterly eradicated, they had instead found refuge in the mountainous environment of Thurii and had continued to provide an armed resistance (Bradley: 1989: 41). The area which the slaves held shares similarities with the maroon communities of the transatlantic world, however, it is unfortunate that Suetonius does not elaborate in further detail. Pinccinin discusses the aim of the Spartacus rebellion by highlighting that the slaves did not flee to the countryside and create a maroon community, but they recruited more slaves and this may infer that the slaves intended to meet their former masters in battle rather than abscond with their freedom (Piccinin: 2004: 194). Yet, Bradley’s (1989: 125) perception on the objectives behind revolts differs with Piccinin’s and states that; ‘it cannot be assumed that slaves set out to make war, in any formal manner, against established powers; it can only be said that slaves were prepared to use military tactics to protect and sustain themselves in flight’. Therefore, although the ancient sources and with Figure 3.5. A map depicting the terrain of the island of Chios, Greece – Showing mainly mountainous and dense woodland areas ©Google Maps
  25. 25. 120201806 20 that the ancient historians themselves do not specifically use the term maroonage, it can be inferred that the absconding slaves of the Roman world were more than likely forming maroon-like communities in order to survive as freedman. The reasons for rebelling have been debated and Finley (1959: 159) states that slaves would not have revolted due to maltreatment but that they seized an opportunity, a slave rebellion on any scale requires, careful planning, persistence and opportunity. The argument that slaves revolted due to maltreatment can be applied both to the new world and also the classical world; when describing the first two servile wars in Sicily, Diodorus states that they were due to the slaves being provoked by the cruelty of their masters (DiodorusSiculus: 34/35.2.24b). Diodorus elaborates further noting that if slaves are treated cruelly by their masters they will not want to abscond, but take their revenge. He divulges further: ‘All of them (the slaves) were equipped with the best of weapons: a rage that was directed at the destruction of their arrogant and overbearing masters’ (DiodorusSiculus: 34/35.2.24b). The rage that the slaves in antiquity would have felt due to their oppressive masters resonates into the examples of slave rebellions in the New World. The cruel reality of how slaves were treated should never be forgotten and cases such as the Charleston workhouse in South Carolina which implemented dense, sand filled walls to silence the screams of those being tortured inside highlight this (Figure 3.5.). The barbaric treatment of the slaves in Charleston resulted in rebellion and saw the men on the site, killing the women and children to spare them from the pain and cruelty (Egerton: 2008: 118). Figure 3.6. Slave housing at the McLeod plantation, Charleston County, South Carolina. Image Courtesy of south-carolina-plantations.com http://south-carolina- plantations.com/charleston/i/m cleod/mcleod-slave- quarters.jpg
  26. 26. 120201806 21 Slaves who rebelled in a violent manner such as arming themselves may have seemed threatening to the owners but with the luxury of hindsight it is clear that the rebellions had no opportunity for long- term success and unlike the slaves in the later phases of the transatlantic slave world, the Roman slaves may have had little impact on society due to the lack of an abolition movement (Urbainczyk: 2008: 1-2). The lack of an apparent abolition movement within the Roman world reveals a startling idea that within the free community there was no desire for the end of slavery, even amongst those who had been freed from slavery. In fact, it has been theorised that it is more likely that those who had been freed would have gone on to purchase slaves for themselves and thus embrace the idea that slavery was crucial in the Roman world (Urbainczyk: 2008: 1). Bradley (1989: 126) also comments on the lack of an abolition movement by critiquing the effect the revolutions had on Rome. Insurrections within the classical slave world were ever present but the result of the overt resistances had led to no enhancements for the lives of those enslaved, unlike their modern counterparts the slaves in in the Roman world had very little chance of the rebellions leading to the abolition of slavery (Bradley: 1989: 126). The lack of an abolition movement is in stark contrast to Britain in the 1780’s which witnessed one of the largest political lobbying movements in history, to abolish the redundant system of slavery. The British were clear that slavery was no longer a necessity with the focus on; ‘new systems of labour and production that were inspired by a freer trade in commodities, produce and labour’ (Walvin: 2007: 27). Where as in Rome, the economic advantages of slavery remained embedded in society and thus resulted in the lack of an abolition movement. In the Roman world the slaves’ actions were purely individualistic and only concerned with personal freedom or the freedom of themselves and their family, there was no communal long- term aim and therefore those who gained their freedom through rebelling were prepared to defend their freedom against the inevitable retaliation of Rome. I have discussed above the harsh and barbaric treatment of escaped slaves in the New World. The punishments were as severe in antiquity too. Livy (32.26.4-18) describes the events in 185 B.C. briefly, but it highlights the importance of vigilance within the Roman world in the coordination of governing slaves. The Praetor Lucius Postumius conducted a strict investigation into a ‘conspiracy of shepherds’ in Tarentum, who according to Livy had ‘endangered the highways and the public pasture-lands’ through their ‘brigandage’. Lucius Postumius, according to Livy, condemned approximately seven thousand men; many escaped but many were also executed. The number of men that may have been executed would have been substantial considering the amount of men captured and may have shadowed the eighty-four executions in Antigua (1735-36) and the four hundred in Barbados (1816). Livy likens the seven thousand shepherds’ actions to ‘brigandage’ which as a noun ‘brigand’ is defined as; ‘a gang that ambushes and robs people in forests and
  27. 27. 120201806 22 mountains’ (Oxford Dictionary: 2007). The phrasing Livy uses to describe the men allows one to infer that the shepherds may have been living similarly to the maroon communities of the New World. This is one of the several pieces of evidence discussed in this chapter which suggests that slaves in the classical world may have created maroon communities and used guerrilla tactics to extort key resources from surrounding areas. The advantages to the comparative approach can be seen specifically in the case of the maroon communities, without using a comparative approach the maroon-like communities in Ancient Greece and Rome would not be easily identified. Yet when using the maroon communities in the transatlantic world it is apparent that they have an abundance of similarities; from the topographical layout of the communities, to the armed resistance of their past masters as well as the self-governed nature of the communities in both Rome and the transatlantic world. Therefore, the comparison between maroon communities both in the New World and the Roman world highlights the necessity for further diachronic studies to be carried out in order to truly understand the world of slavery in antiquity. 3.3 Conclusion Slave insurrections throughout history are crucial pieces of evidence in the understanding of the slave world both in antiquity and the New World. The barbaric behaviours of masters, the opportunistic nature of the slaves and the ability to create communities for absconded slaves resonate from the modern era and through into the classical past. The apparent scarcity of evidence for maroon communities in the Roman world does not mean there were none in comparison to the hundreds that are documented in the transatlantic slave world. One can believe that within the slave world rebellions were necessary, and in the cases of Margaret Garner and of the slaves in Charleston, killing the ones you love the most to free them from pain and suffering was the only option. Slave insurrections in both the Roman world and the transatlantic world have key similarities that, I would argue, facilitate a new understanding of not only the rebellions in the Roman world but also the reactions of the masters and the aftermath of such rebellions. Being able to study the well documented rebellions of the New World has opened up a new approach to the study of the Roman world. The slave rebellions of Rome and the maroon-like communities in particular have been vastly overlooked by scholars. This may be due to the fact that the evidence has not been evaluated with such communities in mind. Thus, the connection has been missed. This chapter has incorporated the maroon communities of the transatlantic world and has been able to draw close comparisons with potential maroon communities of the Roman world through the re-evaluation of previous works, including ancient scholars. Consequently, the comparative study of slave insurrections between the New World and antiquity is essential in the continuation of comparative studies and the
  28. 28. 120201806 23 development of further understanding of the Roman slave world. More thorough research is therefore needed to be able to ascertain how the slave body functioned in detail in antiquity.
  29. 29. 120201806 24 Chapter 4: Manumission 4.1. Introduction Manumission is the release from dominion (Morris: 1996: 371) and is a crucial aspect of the comparative study in the slave world. It has been written that whilst the ‘literature on slavery has reached impressive proportions, very little has been written so far on the comparative history of manumission’ (Woodward: 1978: 93). The idea of manumission has been investigated by Patterson (1982) and Davis 1975) and they have applied an anthropological theory of the ‘gift’ to explain manumission. Gift exchanges in premarket societies created a plethora of obligations through the distribution of goods, even though the gifts appeared to be given voluntarily and without cause. However, the complexity that the concept of ‘gift giving’ can lead to problems when interpreting manumission. Yet if one were to look closely at the practice among slave owners in the American South and not at the legal aspect, or if one was to focus on the law of slavery in antiquity and those slave systems that were built upon civil law foundations such as Louisiana, there is a strong case for the use of the ‘gift’ in relation to manumission (Morris: 1996: 371). Patterson (1982: 409) argued that manumission was the ‘gift of a social life, ideologically interpreted as a repayment for faithful service’ and Davis (1975: 17) agreed with this interpretation of manumission stating that ‘continuing gratitude and obligations to the master and his successors’ were expected post-freedom. In Louisiana, if a freed slave was deemed to be acting in an ungrateful manner towards his ex-master, then the master could take the freeman and reduce him once again to slavery (Atiyah: 1979: 130). The idea of ongoing obligations in the South did not exist outside of a civil law state and Coke (1628) dissects the legal differences between common law and civil law, stating that; ‘if a villain be manumised albeit he become ungrateful to the lord in the highest degree, yet the manumission remains good’. Therefore the difference in legal standings of a number of states emphasised that in the South manumission often resulted in a lack of civis, which is the opposite of what occurred in Roman law (Morris: 1996: 371). Civis, translates roughly as ‘citizen’ and thus accorded someone the ability to no longer be classed as an outsider within the community (Pagden: 1986). The concept of civis in the Roman world does create a contrast to how the manumised slaves in the New World were treated. Some Southern states were so fearful of the growth in the free black population that they rarely allowed for freed slaves to remain in the state in which they had served (Morris: 1996: 372). While the free slave became a ‘libertus’ or ‘libertinus’, (a slave who had obtained ‘libertas’) the
  30. 30. 120201806 25 former master gained the title of ‘patronus’ (derived from the word ‘pater’, meaning Father). The father-son relationship was intended to be used as a moral model to establish the relationship which should exist between a freedman and his former owner. This particular model is significant in understanding the transition for the freedman in Rome into society; through this patriarchal system the freedman was entered into two separate social institutions. The first institution is that of ‘clientela’ (Patronage) and the second is the ‘familia’ (family), therefore the use of manumission is often referred to, in an abstract manner, as a ‘birth’, through which the slave owner has given life and social existence to his former slave (Mourtisen: 2011: 37-38). Epitaphs’ have been used to great effect in the study of manumission in roman slavery as some suggest that manumission occurred on a regular basis and slaves were generally between the ages of thirty and thirty-five. It has been theorised that manumission was not difficult to attain if one possessed certain character traits such as; intelligence, energy and a thrifty nature (Weaver: 1972: 97). The Oxyrhyncus papyrus (up to XLII) (Figure 4.1.) is also key in understanding manumission in Rome as it contains statements from forty- six slaves gaining their freedom. The amount of data is too small to be able to infer that the roman slave trade adhered to an ‘integration’ model but it allows for further studies to continue in regards to the numerical data of manumissions in the roman era (Wiedemann: 1985: 163). Figure 4.1. An example of an Oxyrhyncus Papyrus Image Courtesy of Spurlock Museum, Illinois http://www.spurlock.illinois.edu/collections/artifa ct/oxyrhynchus/papyrus.jpg
  31. 31. 120201806 26 4.2 We Will All Be Welcome In Virginia? Manumission in the New World Manumission in any case was rare in the colonial world and the first manumission to be granted came through Philip Ludwell’s will in which he freed Jonathon Pearse for his ‘faithful services’ (McIlwaine: 1925-1966). The pressure to authorise private manumissions was intensifying in the 1770s and 1780s and resulted in Virginia altering the law in 1782, mainly in response to petitions from Quakers and other religious sources that asked for those who are ‘disposed to emancipate their slaves may be empowered to do so’ (Morris: 1996: 394). Due to the change in the law, slave- owners were now legally able to free slaves either in their wills or by any other contract in writing. There were restrictions upon the manumissions; male slaves had to be between twenty-one and forty-five and female slaves had to be between eighteen and forty-five, slaves younger or older than this would have to be supported by their emancipators (ibid.). Berlin (1976) noted that during a certain period of time Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia required freed people to leave the state swiftly or they would be re-entered into slavery. The threat of re-enslavement was often enforced and the case of Patty Green and Betty in Charles City County, Virginia, were found guilty of remaining within Virginia past the time limit set by the magistrate for the ex-slave to leave the state and in June 1834, Judge Abel Parker Upshur ordered the two women to be sold back into slavery (Charles City County Circuit Court Order Book: 1831-52:75). Freedman in the rest of the southern states may not have been likely to be re-entered into slavery if they remained in the state but once again they could not be permitted full citizenship (Morris: 1996:372). The State of Virginia in 1836 rethought the banishment of freed slaves and allowed all those who had been freed after 1806 to apply for permission to stay in the county in which they were freed by applying to the local court. Furthermore, in Virginia’s constitution of 1850 a section appeared that is of significance in regard to the manumission of slaves; ‘Slaves hereafter emancipated shall forfeit their freedom by remaining in the commonwealth more than twelve months after they became actually free, and shall be reduced to slavery under such regulation as may be prescribed by law’, Virginians were experimenting with the rules on private manumission (Morris: 1996: 394). Slaves had a right to purchase their own freedom in the New World as in antiquity, however, in the transatlantic world slaves would have to arrange contractual agreements with their master within the restrictions of the civil law (Morris: 1996: 380). Scott (1985: 74-75), however, has proven that in Cuba the price of a slave’s freedom would have been almost certainly out of the price range of any
  32. 32. 120201806 27 slave. The introduction of contracts for manumission was a revolutionary movement and heavily contested in the Southern States of America, especially Virginia, and many argued that a slave had no ‘will’ due to their enslavement and thus could not enter into contracts whether for their freedom or not (Blassingame: 1977: 82). The case of Guardian of Sally, a Negro v. Beaty (1792), is a prime example of the complications in the law in regards to slaves, slave-owners and manumission. During the 1790’s a slave woman in South Carolina purchased another slave named Sally with her own money and decided to free her as soon as purchased, however, the slaves master contested that anything owned by his slave was therefore his and thus the manumission of Sally was illegal and he demanded his property returned to him at once (Morris: 1996: 381). The jury returned the verdict in favour of the freedom of Sally after the Chief Justice John Rutledge (Figure 4.2.) directed them with a clear speech on the key elements of the case; ‘If the master got the labour of this wench, or what he agreed to receive for her monthly wages, he could not be injured; on the contrary he was fully satisfied, and all that she earned ought to be at her disposal’ (ibid.). Figure 4.2. Portrait of the Chief Justice John Rutledge Image Courtesy of Encyclopaedia Britannica http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/51 4312/John-Rutledge
  33. 33. 120201806 28 Russell (1969: 61) commented on the removal of the restraints on manumission in 1782 and referred to them as ‘like the sudden destruction of a dam before increasing the impetus of a swollen stream’. This led to an increase of the free black population in Virginia to almost twice its previous size in the space of two years and this was due mainly to manumission becoming popular in Virginia and large numbers of slaves were manumised at one time. Jordan (1969: 347) noted that following the manumission ‘boom’ of the previous years, in 1806, the State of Virginia restricted the rights of slave-owners to free their slaves; ‘On its face not a remarkable measure, in fact it was the key step in the key state and more than any event marked the reversal of the tide which had set in strongly at the Revolution. It was a step on the slippery slope which led to Appomattox (court house battle of 1865) and beyond.’ Jordan’s statement is rather bold but the work of Nash (1990: 18) has pushed the boundaries even further with a strong claim that the slave-owners of Virginia, who comprised approximately half of America’s slave-owners, were; ‘disentangling themselves from the business of coerced labour’ and elaborated further claiming that there was evidence of a ‘widespread desire to be quit of slavery and blacks’. Although there is evidence of opposition to slavery and the use of large-scale manumissions, one must be cautious in the assumption that there was a desired urgency to emancipate, there are examples such as Methodist leaders Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke who in 1785 brought forth a petition for a general emancipation law in Virginia, it cannot be presumed that the owners of large plantations were disassociating themselves with slavery through a purely conscience driven decision (Morris: 1996: 395). Nevertheless, the proslavery ideology was still embedded in parts of society in the South and evidence is available through the petitions submitted in 1784 and 1785 to the assembly in Virginia. The proslavery members of Virginia were not happy with the direction of the manumission laws were headed, many of the petitions contained a strong biblical and deeply racist defence of slavery (ibid.). The petitions often called for the ‘rejection of any scheme of emancipation and to repeal the law of 1782’ and was then followed by a list of offences that were ‘associated with manumission’, including ‘the rapes, murders and outrages which a vast multitude of unprincipled, unpropertied, revengeful and remorseless Banditti (group of bandits) are capable or perpetrating’ (Bruns: 1977: 506-507).
  34. 34. 120201806 29 The desire of the individual slave-owners were often not taken into account in the colonial period as to free one’s slaves was seen to be an insubordinate act and against ‘policy’, which was highly restrictive. There was a shift in the legal standing in the late 18th century which saw the acceptance of ‘humanitarian sensibility’ which allowed for some people to reject the whole institution of slavery and therefore saw people begin to reason as to when and how slavery would be abolished, instead of wondering whether it ever would be (Morris: 1996: 398). Yet, there were constant changes in the laws of Virginia in regards to private manumission and these changes saw the development of hostility towards the growth of a free black population, however, O’Neall (1848: 12) concludes that the policy throughout Virginia meant that ‘the State has nothing to fear from emancipation, regulated as… law directs it to be’. Figure 4.3. Deed of Manumission for Francis Drake, May 23, 1791 Image Courtesy of the Library of Virginia http://www.virginiamemory.com/docs/05-23-1791_05- 0521-01.jpg
  35. 35. 120201806 30 4.3. Manumission in Rome Manumission was always a distinctive feature of the Roman slavery system and has a history that stretches back well before the imperial period. Watson (1971:43). Slave-owners in Rome were relatively liberal with the manumission of their slaves compared to those in the New World and this was demonstrated by the vast number of ex-slaves that inhabited Rome and highlighted that slavery in the Roman world was not necessarily seen as a permeant state but one in which freedom was possible (Bradley: 1987: 81). The freedmen and women of Rome, as in the New World, acted as an example of what could be achieved through obedience and loyal service and as a result of this an understanding of slave-owners that freedom could be used as a bribe and also to repay a slave was apparent early on in the Roman world (Hopkins: 1978: 118). Freedom was the highest reward a slave would be able to attain and there had to have been an understanding from the freedman on their role with Roman society. To be able to interpret how slaves would anticipate their freedom and the meritorious service they must perform in able to be granted their freedom, would help scholars to understand how the freedman actively partook in maintaining the stability of Roman society. (Bradley: 1987: 83-84). Weaver (1972: 97) theorised that manumission would be easy to achieve for a slave who was ‘intelligent, thrifty and energetic’, however, one must also consider the motives of the slave-owners in allowing their slaves to be granted freedom. Treggiari (1969) believes that ‘owners were concerned to attract the esteem of their peers through apparent acts of kindness’, but one must clarify that when slaves were emancipated they did not completely remove themselves from their former masters, the freedman bound himself to his patron summarised in the legal term ‘operae’, which would see the slave enter an agreement with their patron to carry out certain ‘services of labour, and obtain them at law’ (Shumway: 1901). The use of ‘operae’ demonstrates the contrast between the New World and the Roman world, as seen above, those who were freed in North America were demanded by law to leave the county. Whereas in Rome, there was potential for employment with the same owner but within the dynamic of employer and employee, rather than slave and master. Roman history saw many former slave-owners take advantage of this legal commitment, for example; before their deaths in 89 B.C. Gaius Gracchus and C. Fulvius Flaccus are believed to have offered slaves their freedom in return for their support in their political plans. The senate also offered freedom as a reward for any slaves who held information regarding the assassination of A. Sempronius Asellio (Bradley: 1987: 84). However, it is also possible that slaves took advantage of political or military confusion in an attempt to liberate themselves without the retaliation of a preoccupied ruling elite and this can be shown during the Catiline conspiracy where rural slaves may
  36. 36. 120201806 31 have taken it upon themselves to abscond (Bradley: 1978: 73). Rural emancipation is little spoken of and this is one of the problems with Roman slavery, the historical record is dominated by those slaves in the city who have more opportunity to earn money, whereas, rural freedman would not have had enough money to commemorate their freedom with inscriptions (Bradley: 1987: 104) (Figure 4.4.). The constant change in the legal attitude towards manumission in the New World is reminiscent of Augustus’ decision to introduce the Lex Aelia which was established in the year 4 A.D. and was designed to restrict the rising number of manumissions as was documented by Gaius in his institutes (Gaius: 1:19-20). However, the reaction in the American South is a direct contrast to the way in Figure 4.4. The Cinerary urn of the freedman Tiberius Claudius Chryseros Image Courtesy of Flick River http://www.flickriver.com/photos/mrjennings/sets/7215762 6483373576/
  37. 37. 120201806 32 which the slaves in antiquity would have been treated. The freedman in Rome was integrated into society through careful legal procedures and regulations which are not available in the New World in such a stringent manner. The comparison between North America and Rome in regards to the role of a freed slave adds real value due to the contrast between the two; the obligations attached to the freed slave in Rome is in complete contrast of the banishment of a freed slave in the southern states of America. The importance of the treatment of freed slaves is crucial in understanding how the freed slaves were expected to integrate into a society they have never been part of. In 2 B.C. the lex Fufia Caninia was introduced by Augustus and acted as a sliding scale to control and manage the proportion of slaves that could be emancipated after the death of their owner; the larger the household the smaller the number of slaves that could be freed and under no circumstances could more than one hundred slaves be freed at the same time (Atkinson: 1966: 356). The development of the legislative restrictions on manumission does not show an unwillingness from Augustus to accept manumission as it had been a traditional Roman practice for centuries and therefore a halt in manumission would have been impossible. Augustus is emphasising the importance of a slaves moral fibre, but Suetonius does elude to another reason for the restrictions on manumission: ‘Considering it also of great importance to keep the people pure and unsullied by any taint of foreign or servile blood, he was most chary of conferring Roman citizenship and set a limit to manumission’ (Suet. Aug. 40.3). Rome’s stance on manumission was continually changing and the introduction of the lex Aelia Sentia of 4 A.D. was designed to determine a boundary for the minimum age manumission of both slaves and the age at which a master could set a slave free. A slave had to be thirty years old and the master 20 years before manumission with full Roman citizenship could be either accepted or conferred by one or the other (Bradley: 1987: 87). A third law was introduced, entitled the lex Junia which was created to clarify the position of a slave who was freed without gaining full citizenship. This particular law has been attributed to either Augustus or Tiberius but a precise date is unknown (ibid.). In Suetonius’s biography of Augustus he explains the purpose behind the three new pieces of legislation that were passed, that allowed for reluctance in the granting of manumission; Not content with making it difficult for slaves to acquire freedom, and still more so to attain full rights, by making careful provision as to the number, condition, and status of those manumitted, he added the proviso that no one who had ever been put in irons or tortured should acquire citizenship by any grade of freedom’ (Suetonius: Augustus; 40.4).
  38. 38. 120201806 33 Dio refers to the lex Aelia, and comments that too many people were indiscriminately emancipating their slaves and that Augustus’ legal modifications to the process should not be taken in a purely numerical sense but should also be considered from a ‘qualitative point of view’ (Dio: 55.13.7). Once the parameters set out in the legislation were met there was no restraints on servile manumission (Bradley: 1987: 89). As in the New World, slaves could also be freed within the wills of their deceased owners, with a passage of the lex Aelia setting out the way in which this could be achieved and thus showing that testamentary manumission was not necessarily the most common means by which to free a slave. The Augustan legislation laid down the foundations for the manumission of slaves in Rome and although these were later amended when necessary, they remained in effect up until the reign of Justinian (Bradley: 1987: 93). In spite of the Augustan restrictions it is clear that slaves in the Roman world still desired freedom and were anticipating the time when they could join the great mass of freed people. The advantages that came with freedom vastly outweigh the potential negatives, such as; prostitution. Freedmen and women were no longer oppressed by their master and they could acquire full Roman citizenship with both political and legal rights. Furthermore, their descendants had the opportunity to progress socially (Bradley: 1987: 81-82). It can be said that the life of a slave in Rome relied upon two key factors; the opinion created by the Augustan legislation and also the world which the slaves shaped for themselves (ibid: 111). 4.4. Conclusion Manumission allowed for slaves to reach for freedom and escape slavery in both the transatlantic slave world and the oppressive slave world of Rome. Arguably for the same reasons, North American slave-owners and those in Rome put in place a system of legal regulations to restrict the rate of manumission; but the similarities between both the New World and the Roman world highlight the importance of a diachronic comparison in the continual understanding of Roman slavery. Manumission was a way in which the freedom of slaves was used as a manipulative tool; in Rome it allowed for obligations to be attached to the slave. The use of freedom in Rome highlights a contrast in the use of manumission in regards to the freedman in North America, who were expelled from the area in which they had been enslaved. The manipulation of the slaves ‘freedom’ is clear as the law was restricting the movements of a person even when free. (Bradley: 1987: 112). The idea of manumission was as crucial to the slaves in Rome as it was to those in the transatlantic world and they would seize their new status of freedman or woman as soon as it was in grasp and I believe this is identifies the need for further in-depth comparative works within slavery, focusing on the transatlantic world and the Roman world.
  39. 39. 120201806 34 Chapter 5 – Conclusion 5.1 Summary This dissertation has adopted an evaluative approach to insurrections and manumissions in order to ascertain whether a diachronic comparison of slavery in the transatlantic world and the Roman world is a necessity in order to increase our understanding of slavery in Rome. It began by providing a historical background of slavery in Rome and the transatlantic world in order to place my argument into its context. This was then followed by a discussion on the crucial aspects of the dissertation to explain how a diachronic comparative approach would better aid our understanding of slavery in the Roman world. The third chapter focused on insurrections, in both Rome and the New World, engaging in an in-depth discussion on overt resistance and covert resistance, including maroon communities. The fourth chapter gave a detailed account on manumission within the New World and Rome, specifically focused on a comparison of Virginia and Rome, referring to legal enforcements and the obligations of freed slaves within the societies. 5.2. Areas for Further Study This dissertation has attempted to be as detailed as possible in regards to the comparisons between the transatlantic world and Rome, but it still requires greater exploration. This dissertation has focussed primarily on the comparisons between the insurrections and manumissions of Rome and the transatlantic world but further work is necessary to further our understanding of slavery in the Roman world. Such areas that may be approached in such a way are, for example, slave housing and material culture and also freedom within slave religions. The need for a diachronic comparison is a necessity but also, there is a need for a willingness to re-evaluate the classical past in order to fully understand it, from those in the academic world. 5.3. Conclusion Overall, the use of a diachronic comparative approach to slavery in the Roman world and the transatlantic world has been a success. Through the use of a comparative approach has allowed for a wider discussion on slavery in the Roman world and how the comparisons drawn from the transatlantic slave world can increase our understanding of slavery in Rome. The comparisons drawn in chapter three between maroon communities in the New World and the potential maroon communities of the Roman world has allowed for a re-evaluation of our understanding on how Roman slaves reacted when in flight, the scarcity of the evidence for such a topic has led to little
  40. 40. 120201806 35 being documented on such communities. Yet, I believe that the lack of primary evidence for maroon communities in Rome is primarily due to modern scholars failing to engage with the text in search for such comparisons. Chapter four enabled a discussion on the benefits of manumission in both the New World and Rome. Through the study of the legal restrictions on manumission I was able to draw several similarities which can further my argument for a diachronic comparison of the slave worlds of Rome and the New World. The world of modern academia cannot hold the classical world in such a light, that the obvious similarities between Rome and the New World in regards to slavery can be, to an extent, largely ignored. The works of Webster (2008) and Katsari and Del Lago (2008) have, however, commented on the resistance by ancient historians and archaeologists to engage with a comparative approach. We cannot begin to hope that through the study of a singular period in history, it will be able help us understand the developments within the one society. Unless we engage with equivalent cases throughout history; we cannot deduce whether the outcomes of events in slavery were frequent or scarce. Without comparative work the result can only be an ‘antiquarian accumulation of data’ that is not only untestable but leads to haphazard claims about the significance of the events in one system (Schiedel: 2006: 4). Therefore, I believe that a diachronic comparison between Rome and the transatlantic world is a crucial necessity in the development of our understanding of slavery within the Roman world.
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  46. 46. 120201806 41 Images Used Front Cover: ‘The Death of Spartacus’, by Hermann Vogel (1882) Image Courtesy of Fine Art America http://fineartamerica.com/featured/spartacus-d71-bc-granger.html [Date Accessed: 21/04/2015] Figure 2.1. Toussaint Louverture; ‘Chef des Noirs Insurgés de Saint Domingue’, by Jean de Beauvais (c. 1802) Image Courtesy of Historic Hudson Valley. http://american- arcadia.hudsonvalley.org/sites/default/files/imagecache/full/sites/default/files/images/toussaint_lo uverture.jpg [Date Accessed: 21/04/2015] Figure 3.1. A Newspaper clipping of a reward for the apprehension of a runaway slave http://americanabolitionist.liberalarts.iupui.edu/resistance.htm [Date Accessed: 21/04/2015] Figure 3.2. A map detailing two possible routes Margaret Garner may have taken during her escape. It must be said that this is a modern map and therefore may not represent Garner’s true route ©Google Maps [Date Accessed: 21/04/2015 Figure 3.3. ‘The Modern Medea’ (1867) by Thomas Satterwhite Noble was based on Garner's story. Picture courtesy of playbillarts.com http://www.playbillarts.com/features/article/6963-My-Journey-from-Beloved.html [Date Accessed: 21/04/2015] Figure 3.4.Headline from a Cincinnati newspaper, detailing the arrest of Garner. Image courtesy of playbillarts.com http://www.playbillarts.com/features/article/6963-My-Journey-from-Beloved.html [Date Accessed: 21/04/2015] Figure 3.5. A map depicting the terrain of the island of Chios, Greece – Showing mainly mountainous and dense woodland areas ©Google Maps [Date Accessed: 21/04/2015] Figure 3.6. Slave housing at the McLeod plantation, Charleston County, South Carolina. Image Courtesy of south-carolina-plantations.com http://south-carolina-plantations.com/charleston/i/mcleod/mcleod-slave-quarters.jpg [Date Accessed: 21/04/2015] Figure 4.1. An example of an Oxyrhyncus Papyrus Image Courtesy of Spurlock Museum, Illinois. http://www.spurlock.illinois.edu/collections/artifact/oxyrhynchus/papyrus.jpg [Date Accessed: 21/04/2015]
  47. 47. 120201806 42 Figure 4.2. Portrait of the Chief Justice John Rutledge, Image Courtesy of Encyclopaedia Britannica. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/514312/John-Rutledge [Date Accessed: 21/04/2015] Figure 4.3. Deed of Manumission for Francis Drake, May 23, 1791, Image Courtesy of the Library of Virginia http://www.virginiamemory.com/docs/05-23-1791_05-0521-01.jpg [Date Accessed: 21/04/2015] Figure 4.4. The Cinerary urn of the freedman Tiberius Claudius Chryseros, Curated in the Museum of the Diocletian Baths Image Courtesy of Flick River. http://www.flickriver.com/photos/mrjennings/sets/72157626483373576/ [Date Accessed: 21/04/2015]