By Douglas V. Armstrong
An exploration of existence at the Virgin Islands in a particular black group that won its freedom from slavery greater than forty years ahead of emancipation in 1848. Douglas Armstrong seeks to extend our standpoint at the variety and results of the African Diaspora.
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Extra info for Creole Transformation from Slavery to Freedom: Historical Archaeology of the East End Community, St. John, Virgin Is
Acres) were granted, but by mid-century many of the smaller pieces had been consolidated into larger holdings. The islandwide expansion of 28 | Creole Transformation from Slavery to Freedom both sugar and provisioning estates through the 1720s and early 1730s was marked by a significant increase in the number of enslaved laborers on St. John. By the end of this period, the number of enslaved laborers (including field hands, house servants, and tradespeople) had reached 1087 compared with 208 free persons (a 5 to 1 ratio; Westergaard 1917).
As such, the way of life in the East End community did not conform to common perceptions of persons of color as presented in much of the contemporary explanation and interpretation of history. On the contrary, the East Enders provide evidence of a historical paradox, a confusion of freedom intertwined with bondage, and of resistance with compliance and complicity. 4 Introduction to the East End Creole Community | 21 2 Historical Background This study blends an overview of the history of the Virgin Islands with an up-close examination of the East End made possible by a rich array of primary documents that pertain to the people and their land.
The 1728 Land List indicates that Creutzer had thirteen slaves working his land, and that it was officially defined as a cotton plantation (SJLL 1728). During this period, the Danish West Indies tax records divided plantations into two categories: cotton or sugar estates. Taxes were paid only on lands where these crops were produced. An estate could be listed as a cotton or sugar estate even if only one acre was in production, and taxes were not charged until after the ten-year grace period had elapsed.