Sugar Plantations of the Old South

Sep 2013
820
Chattanooga, TN
#21
Nemowork, your post #20 on this thread is an excellent post. I had kind of the same ideas, but you said it better than I ever could.

Slavery does not work well for skilled jobs. That's a major part of the reason that the northern states abolished slavery.
 
Sep 2013
820
Chattanooga, TN
#22
It takes either book learning or apprenticeship and training to get it right.

You dont want to waste too much time in educating field slaves, not only is it wasting time they could be using for other things but they might start getting funny ideas about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in a non-slave state.
You cannot teach a slave how to be a sugar maker through book learning because it's illegal to teach a slave how to read and write. Just this alone puts the slaves at a disadvantage to white sugar makers.

The only possible way to teach a slave how to be a sugar maker is through apprenticeship and training. The slaves mainly worked for the sugar planters so that the planters/overseers would not whip them. The slaves were motivated to work through violence and the threat of violence. If the slaves was dawdling while cutting sugar cane, the master could whip the slave right there in the fields. The slave would be a more effective worker because it does not take much concentration to cut sugar cane. Sure, you have to be careful not to cut yourself, but that's not rocket science. Being a good sugar maker would require far more concentration. Learning to be a sugar maker through apprenticeship would take a high degree of concentration to learn properly, but it's difficult to concentrate when one is under the threat of violence. But take away the threat of violence, and the slave would probably make a lackadaisical effort to learn the sugar making trade since it was just working for master. This makes slavery poorly suited to sugar making and most or all other skilled trades.
 
Jul 2012
4,379
Here
#23
You cannot teach a slave how to be a sugar maker through book learning because it's illegal to teach a slave how to read and write. Just this alone puts the slaves at a disadvantage to white sugar makers.

The only possible way to teach a slave how to be a sugar maker is through apprenticeship and training. The slaves mainly worked for the sugar planters so that the planters/overseers would not whip them. The slaves were motivated to work through violence and the threat of violence. If the slaves was dawdling while cutting sugar cane, the master could whip the slave right there in the fields. The slave would be a more effective worker because it does not take much concentration to cut sugar cane. Sure, you have to be careful not to cut yourself, but that's not rocket science. Being a good sugar maker would require far more concentration. Learning to be a sugar maker through apprenticeship would take a high degree of concentration to learn properly, but it's difficult to concentrate when one is under the threat of violence. But take away the threat of violence, and the slave would probably make a lackadaisical effort to learn the sugar making trade since it was just working for master. This makes slavery poorly suited to sugar making and most or all other skilled trades.
That is very wrong as the article I posted shows. Slaves were not just made to work through the whip, when it came to skilled labor, they were often rewarded. It is also clear that slaves knew many technical skills and were rewarded for them. And no one has shown that it takes "more concentration" to learn how to make sugar than to be a good mason and slaves were incapable of learning it because of the pressures of violence.
 
Sep 2013
820
Chattanooga, TN
#24
That is very wrong as the article I posted shows. Slaves were not just made to work through the whip, when it came to skilled labor, they were often rewarded. It is also clear that slaves knew many technical skills and were rewarded for them.
I don't disagree with your premises, but your premises support my argument better than your argument.

I didn't say that slaves were just made to work through the whip. I said that the slaves mainly worked for the sugar planters so that the planters/overseers would not whip them. Mainly does not mean entirely. The primary reason that slaves worked for the planters is so that the planters/overseers would not whip the slaves. There were sometimes secondary reasons why slaves worked for planters.

When it came to skilled labor, slaves were often rewarded. Yes, the planters usually enticed the slaves to work for skilled labor with rewards such as money or special privileges rather than just not to be whipped. Why did the planters reward slaves who did skilled labor far more than for unskilled work? Part of the answer is probably that the owners would value a skilled slaves' good work more than an unskilled slaves' good work, but also part of the answer is that if the planters used the violence and the threat of violence to coerce the slaves to learn skilled trades, the slaves could not concentrate as well.

And no one has shown that it takes "more concentration" to learn how to make sugar than to be a good mason and slaves were incapable of learning it because of the pressures of violence.
You're refuting an argument that does not exist. Nobody said that it takes more concentration to learn to make sure than to be a good mason. I said that it takes more concentration to learn how to be a good sugar maker than to be good at cutting sugar cane.

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Why was slavery abolished in the northern states?
 
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Jul 2012
4,379
Here
#25
You're refuting an argument that does not exist. Nobody said that it takes more concentration to learn to make sure than to be a good mason. I said that it takes more concentration to learn how to be a good sugar maker than to be good at cutting sugar cane.



Here is the part of your argument I am refuting...

Being a good sugar maker would require far more concentration. Learning to be a sugar maker through apprenticeship would take a high degree of concentration to learn properly, but it's difficult to concentrate when one is under the threat of violence. But take away the threat of violence, and the slave would probably make a lackadaisical effort to learn the sugar making trade since it was just working for master. This makes slavery poorly suited to sugar making and most or all other skilled trades.
There is gads of evidence slaves were very good at many skilled jobs, so your saying that it skilled jobs are not "suited to slavery" doesn't make much sense. They all learned and executed their skills under the threat of the lash and yet seemed able to concentrate enough to learn their skills.

But the fact that slaves could be rewarded for good production of sugar means that in many cases, there needn't be a constant threat of whipping. Slaves would be motivated to learn and work harder for the bonuses. So, your saying "take away the the threat of violence, and the slave would probably make a lackadaisical effort to learn the sugar making trade" doesn't make any sense to me.

Do you have any evidence that slaves would not be inclined to learn how to make sugar if given incentives?
 
Sep 2013
820
Chattanooga, TN
#26
But the fact that slaves could be rewarded for good production of sugar means that in many cases, there needn't be a constant threat of whipping. Slaves would be motivated to learn and work harder for the bonuses. So, your saying "take away the the threat of violence, and the slave would probably make a lackadaisical effort to learn the sugar making trade" doesn't make any sense to me.
I meant that if you take away the threat of violence, and if you don't replace the threat of violence with a suitable reward, the slave would probably make a lackadaisical effort to learn the sugar making trade.

If the sugar planters rewarded the slaves by paying them adequate money, then whatever amount of money the planter would pay the slave would be overhead that they would not have to pay the slave if they hired a white sugar maker instead.


Do you have any evidence that slaves would not be inclined to learn how to make sugar if given incentives?
The slaves could be inclined to learn to make sugar if given the proper incentives, but how much money those incentives cost undermines the idea of using a slave to save money.

Every slave that a sugar planter would use as a sugar maker would be one less slave available to cut sugar cane.
 
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Sep 2013
820
Chattanooga, TN
#27
Here is the part of your argument I am refuting...

There is gads of evidence slaves were very good at many skilled jobs, so your saying that it skilled jobs are not "suited to slavery" doesn't make much sense. They all learned and executed their skills under the threat of the lash and yet seemed able to concentrate enough to learn their skills.
Part of the reason that slavery was abolished in the Northeast USA is that most of the work available for slaves in the Northeast was skilled labor and factory labor that requires more concentration than cutting sugar cane or picking cotton. Slavery is a far more effective and profitable system when the slaves are doing routine, simple tasks such as picking cotton and cutting sugar cane.

When a planter starts having to pay a slave to competently perform skilled labor instead of forcing the slaves via violence and the threat of violence, that undermines the entire institution of slavery.

It's tremendously easier and more effective to use the threat of violence to force a slave to do simple tasks than to competently perform skilled labor.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,978
#28
The slaves could be inclined to learn to make sugar if given the proper incentives, but how much money those incentives cost undermines the idea of using a slave to save money.

Every slave that a sugar planter would use as a sugar maker would be one less slave available to cut sugar cane.
Slaves were often used for skilled labor because it was profitable for the master for the slave to be doing more valuable work. It was also better for the slave to get better working conditions and be treated better.

Obviously, it was cheaper to have a slave do skilled or semi skilled labor than to hire a free man to do that work.

Slaves processing sugar may have been to young or old or otherwise not in shape to cut cane. Also, cutting cane was very hard physical labor and slaves may have been given other tasks as a break from it.

There were slaves who lived in towns and worked as skilled laborers, as well as those who did skilled labor such as brick laying on plantations. The advantage for the master was that the master got most of the slave's pay, which was more than the value the master would get from a slave working in the fields. The slave got better conditions, made some money with which he might eventually buy his freedom, and didn't have to work in the fields and get whipped.

There was a discussion earlier here about a slave who was a ships pilot. When the Civil War started, he was made a warrant officer in the Confederate Navy while still a slave. He was killed in action. He may have been the highest ranking black or one of the few blacks with any rank in the Confederate military.
 
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Jul 2012
4,379
Here
#29
I meant that if you take away the threat of violence, and if you don't replace the threat of violence with a suitable reward, the slave would probably make a lackadaisical effort to learn the sugar making trade.
If there is no violence, there is no slavery. The rest of this is meaningless.

If the sugar planters rewarded the slaves by paying them adequate money, then whatever amount of money the planter would pay the slave would be overhead that they would not have to pay the slave if they hired a white sugar maker instead.

The slaves could be inclined to learn to make sugar if given the proper incentives, but how much money those incentives cost undermines the idea of using a slave to save money.

Every slave that a sugar planter would use as a sugar maker would be one less slave available to cut sugar cane.
You are confused. As the article I posted earlier said, there was only one "sugar maker" on a plantation. He had the special skill of knowing the whole process. The sugar was made by slaves. It was basically unskilled labor. They followed the sugar maker's directions. There is no special need to pay them incentives (but some plantation owners did pay unskilled field slaves incentives. And I assume that went for some sugar plantation owners and their unskilled sugar making slaves - the carrot and the stick, instead of just the stick).

So if you had one slave per plantation trained to make sugar, that would only be one less hand in the field. And you haven't shown that paying incentives to one slave "undermines the idea of using a slave to save money" versus paying a white sugar maker a salary.

Are you following this?
 
Jul 2012
4,379
Here
#30
Part of the reason that slavery was abolished in the Northeast USA is that most of the work available for slaves in the Northeast was skilled labor and factory labor that requires more concentration than cutting sugar cane or picking cotton. Slavery is a far more effective and profitable system when the slaves are doing routine, simple tasks such as picking cotton and cutting sugar cane.
So you are sticking with the slaves cannot concentrate nonsense even after I have established that they could concentrate well enough to be carpenters and masons? This is as ridiculous as it was the first time you said it.

Do you know that slaves worked in southern factories like the Tredegar Iron works up to and into the Civil War?
 

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