I know this may be a discussion on American sugar , but in The Carib were sugar was King it was very common , for slaves to hold very high positions in the production of sugar and rum !The head man on the plantation was called " the Bomba ". That word is still today used . There were many plantations that the owners placed such trust in their slaves that the owners would sail back to Europe for years and leave the running of the farm/plantation to slaves and a local lawyer in the towns . I am away from my reference material but I worked with and studied under one of the finest historians in the Carib [ Lito Vals ] for 13 years . I believe that the threat of violence did not pay as large a part in plantation life as some on here imply .