The Whitney Plantation

Located in the St. John the Baptist Parish, the Whitney Plantation is, according to its website, “is the only plantation museum in Louisiana with an exclusive focus on the lives of enslaved people.”  In the 100-plus years of history of its activity, three-hundred and fifty enslaved Africans were forced to grow indigo, sugar and rice on it, making the Whitney Plantation one of the wealthiest businesses, not only in the American South but of the United States.

In the early 1700s, Europeans from Spain, France and Germany lived in Louisiana, where Indigenous Americans had long been settled.  While there were Europeans who worked as indentured servants, they were contracted to only thirty-six months of labor, primarily clearing land to work on small tracts of land, Indigenous Americans were exploited for much longer periods of time.  In 1712, there were only 10 Africans in the entire state of Louisiana.  However, because of the brief periods of indenture servitude as well as “White” nationalism and its costs, including disease, collective rebellion and brutal treatment of utilizing Indigenous Americas, Africans became more viable to use to build southern society. 

Africans, as a whole, were a perfect solution to be forced to labor in building America.  Africans had prior experience of building their own empires.  They had a strong immune system, greater enabling them to work among the Europeans.  They were already skilled professionals, ranging from farming to smelting, healing to cooking.  Their skin tone made them easy to identify in the instance of escape.  With their homelands being across the Atlantic Ocean, the Africans could not physically return home, should they survive the brutal Trans-Atlantic travels.  They were completely unfamiliar with the terrain in the United States.  Finally, it was incredibly difficult for Africans to unite against their oppressors, as many mechanisms, including cruel punishments, rape and murder, were often used to keep them divided.

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