New World Agriculture & Plantation Labor

  • Interior of a Boiling House, French West Indies, 1762

    Shows slaves at work in the processing of sugar. On the left (B) is the tank that receives the cane juice flowing from the mill where the sugar cane has been crushed and the juice extracted. In the center are the coppers (cauldrons) in which the sugar juice is boiled (C) with slaves moving the crystallized sugar from one to the other with giant ladles (D). On the lower right are the conical sugar pots into which the raw sugar will be placed and then taken to the curing house to drain out the molasses. A reversed version of this image is in M. Chambon, Le commerce de l'Amérique par Marseille (Avignon 1764) Vol. 1, plate IV (top), after p. 382), titled Sucrerie.
  • Horse- and Water-Powered Sugar Mills, French West Indies, 1762

    Shows slaves at work in two types of vertical roller sugar grinding mills: water (bottom) and horse (top). The illustration of the horse-powered mill seems to have been taken from an engraving that appeared earlier in Jean Baptiste Labat, Nouveau Voyage aux Isles de l'Amerique (Paris, 1722; see image reference NW0059 on this website).
  • Interior of Sugar Mill, Pernambuco, Brazil, early 1850s

    Accompanies an article, Sugar Manufacture in Brazil, which discusses the application of novel machinery to the manufacture of sugar: the article describes this new machinery, introduced to Brazil in 1851 or 1852, and the illustration shows two black women . . . feeding the mill with canes, which others are bringing from a heap shown on the right . . . where they have been thrown from the carts.
  • Cotton Packing or Pressing, South Carolina, 1880

    Caption, Cotton-Packing (Long Staple)
  • Short Staple Cotton Press, South Carolina, 1880

    Although published after the Civil War, this scene could have been witnessed during the later antebellum period. The illustration accompanies a long descriptive article on cotton production, Cotton, in the Coast and Upland Fields of South Carolina, by Jennie Haskell (pp. 567-574).
  • Separating White Cotton from Yellow (Long Staple), South Carolina, 1880

    Although published after the Civil War, this scene could have been witnessed during the later antebellum period. The illustration accompanies a long descriptive article on cotton production, Cotton, in the Coast and Upland Fields of South Carolina, by Jennie Haskell (pp. 567-574).
  • Picking Cotton, South Carolina, 1880

    Although published after the Civil War, this scene could have been witnessed during the later antebellum period. The illustration accompanies a long descriptive article on cotton production, Cotton, in the Coast and Upland Fields of South Carolina, by Jennie Haskell (pp. 567-574).
  • Carrying Picked Cotton from the Fields, South Carolina, 1880

    Captioned, After a day's picking.
  • Hoeing and Planting Cotton Seeds, South Carolina, 1880

    Although published after the Civil War, this scene could have been witnessed during the later antebellum period. The illustration accompanies a long descriptive article on cotton production, Cotton, in the Coast and Upland Fields of South Carolina, by Jennie Haskell (pp. 567-574).
  • Curing House and Rum Distillery, Antigua, West Indies, 1823

    Caption, Exterior of a Distillery, on Weatherell's Estate. Shows cane trash being fed into the furnaces, people rolling hogsheads of rum, cattle carts hauling the hogsheads, white overseers/managers; in background windmills used for grinding the cane. Little is known of William Clark although he was probably a manager or overseer of plantations in Antigua. The ten prints in the collection (only 9 of which are shown on this website) are based on his drawings, converted into prints by professional printmakers. All of the prints are shown and extensively described in T. Barringer, G. Forrester, and B. Martinez-Ruiz, Art and Emancipation in Jamaica: Isaac Mendes Belisario and his Worlds (New Haven : Yale Center for British Art in association with Yale University Press, 2007), pp. 318-321; the descriptions in this publication are based on Clark's unpaginated text and quotations from that text. Special thanks to Randall Ericson, Couper Librarian, Hamilton College.
  • Cotton Production, French West Indies (?), 1762

    Shows slaves working at various tasks in the production of cotton; the geographical area is not specified but presumably it is the French West Indies. Details on this illustration are given in Diderot, the section treating agriculture, p. 9. The same illustration was published in B. L. C. Wailes, Report on the Agriculture and Geology of Mississippi (Lippincott, Grambo, and Co. [Philadelphia], 1854, facing p. 141), without giving Diderot as the original source. The image, reversed, was also published in M. Chambon, Le commerce de l'Amèrique par Marseille (Avignon 1764) Vol. 2, plate VIII (top), after p. 6). A reversed version of this image also appears in Il Gazzettiere Americano (Livorno, 1763), vol. 2, facing p. 235, where the location is given as Martinique.
  • Sugar Curing House, 1762

    Shows sugar pots and jars; the geographical area is unidentified. After the sugar is processed in the boiling house, the raw (Muscavado) sugar is poured into the conical pots and the molasses drains into the jars below. Although a European is shown in this illustration, the job was commonly performed by slaves in the Caribbean and Brazil. A reversed version of this image is in M. Chambon, Le commerce de l'Amèrique par Marseille (Avignon 1764) Vol. 1, plate IV (bottom), after p. 382), titled Sucrerie.
  • Sugar Mill, Brazil, 1816

    Men and women at work; some carrying and feeding canes to vertical rollers; others boiling sugar.
  • Manioc (Cassava) Processing, Brazil, 1840s

    Men and women slaves pressing, grating, and washing the manioc; a white overseer with a whip looks on. Kidder (p. 243) describes the scene as follows: The process of preparation . . . was first to boil [the roots], then remove the rind, after which the pieces were held by the hand in contact with a circular grater turned by water power. The pulverized material was then placed in sacks, several of which, thus filled, were constantly subject to the action of a screw-press for the expulsion of the poisonous liquid. The masses, thus solidified by pressure, were beaten fine in mortars. The substance was then transferred to open ovens, or concave plates, heated beneath, where it was constantly and rapidly stirred until quite dry. The ... farinha [flour] is found upon every Brazilian table, and forms a great variety of healthy and palatable dishes.
  • Picking Cotton, Mississippi, 1881

    Captioned, Negroes Picking Cotton; a cotton gin is in the background. The author visited a plantation near Vicksburg in 1881. Although the scene depicted is post-emancipation, it evokes the labor of many thousands of people during the period of slavery.
  • View of a Sugar Plantation, French West Indies, 1762

    Illustration shows the layout of a sugar plantation. Slave houses are on the left, above them the mansion/great house; water mill in lower right; cane field in the center. This image does not appear in the London edition of the American Gazetteer and seems to have been included especially for the Italian publication. This is a reverse image from the original source for this illustration: Denis Diderot, Encyclopedie . . . (Paris, 1762), vol. 1, plate 1 (see image reference # sucrerie_plate1 on this website; thanks to Phil Lapsansky, Library Company of Philadelphia, for help in identifying Diderot as the original source.)
  • Slaves and Sugar Hogsheads, West Indies, 1780

    Scene on unidentified West Indian island, with shipping in the bay; foreground, slaves with sugar hogsheads.
  • Plantation Field Laborer with Tools, Trinidad, 1836

    The hoe is the only tool used for making cane holes, writes Bridgens. The laborer also carries a cutlass and crook, the latter to assist in the removal of dead leaves from the cane plant; on the hoe handle, he also carries a sort of sandal worn when in the woods or to protect the feet from thorns in newly cultivated land. On his right arm there is a too-too in a coarse netting of linen, termed by the Negroes tie-tie; the too-too is a calabash canteen for holding water. A sculptor, furniture designer and architect, Richard Bridgens was born in England in 1785, but in 1826 he moved to Trinidad where his wife had inherited a sugar plantation, St. Clair. Although he occasionally returned to England, he ultimately lived in Trinidad for seven years and died in Port of Spain in 1846. Bridgens' book contains 27 plates, thirteen of which are shown on this website. The plates were based on drawings made from life and were done between 1825, when Bridgens arrived in Trinidad, and 1836, when his book was published. Although his work is undated, the title page of a copy held by the Beinecke Rare Book Room at Yale University has a front cover with a publication date of 1836, the date usually assigned to this work by major libraries whose copies lack a title page. Bridgens' racist perspectives on enslaved Africans and his defense of slavery are discussed in T. Barringer, G. Forrester, and B. Martinez-Ruiz, Art and Emancipation in Jamaica: Isaac Mendes Belisario and his Worlds (Yale University Press, 2007), pp. 460-461. Bridgensí life is discussed extensively along with discussion of his drawings and presentation of many details on slave life in Trinidad in Judy Raymond, The Colour of Shadows: Images of Caribbean Slavery (Coconut Beach, Florida: Caribbean Studies Press, 2016). Raymondís book, which is an essential source for any study of Bridgens, also includes a number of unpublished sketches of Trinidadian slave life. See also Brian Austen, Richard Hicks Bridgens (Oxford Art Online/Grove Art Online).
  • Sugar Boiling House, Trinidad, 1836

    The juice is conveyed in pipes from the mill to the boiling house . . . . Here it is converted through a succession of coppers. At each copper a Negro is placed to take off the scum as it rises, and when the temperature of that vessel has had its full effect, to remove it with a ladle into the next (Bridgens). A (white?) overseer/manager is in the center foreground. A sculptor, furniture designer and architect, Richard Bridgens was born in England in 1785, but in 1826 he moved to Trinidad where his wife had inherited a sugar plantation, St. Clair. Although he occasionally returned to England, he ultimately lived in Trinidad for seven years and died in Port of Spain in 1846. Bridgens' book contains 27 plates, thirteen of which are shown on this website. The plates were based on drawings made from life and were done between 1825, when Bridgens arrived in Trinidad, and 1836, when his book was published. Although his work is undated, the title page of a copy held by the Beinecke Rare Book Room at Yale University has a front cover with a publication date of 1836, the date usually assigned to this work by major libraries whose copies lack a title page. Bridgens' racist perspectives on enslaved Africans and his defense of slavery are discussed in T. Barringer, G. Forrester, and B. Martinez-Ruiz, Art and Emancipation in Jamaica: Isaac Mendes Belisario and his Worlds (Yale University Press, 2007), pp. 460-461. Bridgensí life is discussed extensively along with discussion of his drawings and presentation of many details on slave life in Trinidad in Judy Raymond, The Colour of Shadows: Images of Caribbean Slavery (Coconut Beach, Florida: Caribbean Studies Press, 2016). Raymondís book, which is an essential source for any study of Bridgens, also includes a number of unpublished sketches of Trinidadian slave life. See also Brian Austen, Richard Hicks Bridgens (Oxford Art Online/Grove Art Online).
  • Sugar Mill and Boiling House, Trinidad, 1836

    Caption, carting canes to the mill--sketch taken from the estate of St. Clair farm. Shows ox carts, the boiling house (left) and mule-powered mill with vertical rollers (right). A Negress, called the 'feeder' . . . introduces the fresh canes between the two first rollers. (Bridgens). A sculptor, furniture designer and architect, Richard Bridgens was born in England in 1785, but in 1826 he moved to Trinidad where his wife had inherited a sugar plantation, St. Clair. Although he occasionally returned to England, he ultimately lived in Trinidad for seven years and died in Port of Spain in 1846. Bridgens' book contains 27 plates, thirteen of which are shown on this website. The plates were based on drawings made from life and were done between 1825, when Bridgens arrived in Trinidad, and 1836, when his book was published. Although his work is undated, the title page of a copy held by the Beinecke Rare Book Room at Yale University has a front cover with a publication date of 1836, the date usually assigned to this work by major libraries whose copies lack a title page. Bridgens' racist perspectives on enslaved Africans and his defense of slavery are discussed in T. Barringer, G. Forrester, and B. Martinez-Ruiz, Art and Emancipation in Jamaica: Isaac Mendes Belisario and his Worlds (Yale University Press, 2007), pp. 460-461. Bridgensí life is discussed extensively along with discussion of his drawings and presentation of many details on slave life in Trinidad in Judy Raymond, The Colour of Shadows: Images of Caribbean Slavery (Coconut Beach, Florida: Caribbean Studies Press, 2016). Raymondís book, which is an essential source for any study of Bridgens, also includes a number of unpublished sketches of Trinidadian slave life. See also Brian Austen, Richard Hicks Bridgens (Oxford Art Online/Grove Art Online).
  • Cotton Harvest, U.S. South,1850s

    Caption, Plantation-cotton picking; carter with ox-cart hauling bales of cotton; field laborers with baskets of picked cotton. Blake does not identify the source for this illustration, but it seems to be one that originally appeared in Harper's New Monthly Magazine (vol. 8, p. 460); see image reference NW0076 on this website.
  • Manioc (Cassava) Processing, Brazil, 19th cent.

    Caption, Plantation Life-Brazil; black men and women engaged in various phases of preparing the manioc. This illustration is not described in Blake, but is undoubtedly derived from Johann Moritz Rugendas, Voyage Pittoresque dans le Bresil (Paris, 1835); see image reference NW0294 on this website.
  • Cutting Sugar Cane, Jamaica, 1808-1815

    A watercolor showing plantation sugar fields with slaves (center) cutting and loading the cane onto ox-carts for transport to the sugar mill. Drawn from life by William Berryman, an English artist who lived in Jamaica for eight years in the early 19th century. He produced about 300 pencil and watercolor drawings of people, landscape, settlements, and flora in the island's southern parishes, the general region surrounding Kingston. He had intended to produce a series of engravings, never realized because of his death (Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs, An Illustrated Guide). Several other Berryman works are reproduced in T. Barringer, G. Forrester, and B. Martinez-Ruiz [and others], Art and Emancipation in Jamaica: Isaac Mendes Belisario and his Worlds (New Haven: Yale Center for British Art in association with Yale University Press, 2007), passim.
  • Bagging Cotton, Jamaica, 1808-1815

    Two men on a raised structure or scaffold filling a tall bag with cotton. Drawn from life by William Berryman, an English artist who lived in Jamaica for eight years in the early 19th century. He produced about 300 pencil and watercolor drawings of people, landscape, settlements, and flora in the island's southern parishes, the general region surrounding Kingston. He had intended to produce a series of engravings, never realized because of his death (Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs, An Illustrated Guide). Several other Berryman works are reproduced in T. Barringer, G. Forrester, and B. Martinez-Ruiz [and others], Art and Emancipation in Jamaica: Isaac Mendes Belisario and his Worlds (New Haven: Yale Center for British Art in association with Yale University Press, 2007), passim.
  • Plantation Slaves Going to Work, Suriname, ca. 1831

    Men and women in their work clothes, carrying long handled spades and hoes; woman on left is carrying a wood tray and basket on her head and smoking a pipe. In background, slaves cultivating a field under a driver's supervision. Benoit (1782-1854), a Belgian artist, visited Suriname around 1831 and apparently stayed for several months. The 100 lithographs in his book (hand colored in the John Carter Brown copy), accompanied by textual descriptions of varying detail, are derived from drawings he made during his visit, which included time in Paramaribo, the capital, as well as trips into the interior visiting Maroons and Amerindians. Forty of his lithographs, with our translations from the French text, are shown on this website.
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