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Simplicity, Equality, and SlaveryAn Archaeology of Quakerism in the British Virgin Islands, 1740-1780$
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John M. Chenoweth

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781683400110

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9781683400110.001.0001

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Equality, Race, and Slavery in BVI Communities

Equality, Race, and Slavery in BVI Communities

Chapter:
(p.151) Chapter 7 Equality, Race, and Slavery in BVI Communities
Source:
Simplicity, Equality, and Slavery
Author(s):

John M. Chenoweth

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9781683400110.003.0007

Chapter 7 examines the question of equality in British Virgin Islands (BVI) Quakerism in two distinct but intertwined ways. The fact that members of the Tortola meeting held Africans enslaved is a defining feature of this community and has attracted much modern attention. Although discordant to modern readers, Chapter Seven traces the complex and equivocal history of slavery and Quakerism. To explore how these complexities manifested in the BVI, it examines what can be said about the relationship between the Lettsoms of Little Jost van Dyke and the enslaved Africans they held there. Instead of the usual emphasis on oversight and control, the layout of the complex made for a distinction of free and enslaved at the expense of direct oversight. Chapter 7 also examines the relations and concern for connections with non-Quaker planters. In particular, it suggests that some of the markers which performed and created Quakerism had to be moderated so as not to threaten ties beyond the group. Performances of Quakerism were more private, whereas the most public statements of the Lettsoms would have been compatible with the planter community at large. Quakerism was mapped onto existing racial and legal distinctions between white and black, free and enslaved.

Keywords:   Slavery, Quakerism, British Virgin Islands, Little Jost van Dyke, Tortola Meeting, Lettsom

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