Infomaniac's World

 

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Plantation Life

Plantations varied in size from as small as 30 acres to over 6,000 acres.

The main crops were cotton, sugar, rice and indigo and the majority of African slaves had expertise with these crops, unlike the native tribesmen.

The weather in Louisiana is generally humid, with patchy thunderstorms and extreme heat in the summer months. Winter nights can drop below freezing.
But, unlike today, the plantation homes had no air conditioning, relying on fans and shutters to keep the rooms cool. There were no freezers or fridges and perishable food would be kept in dark pantries, away from the outside heat. For the winter, they had fires and stoves. Fruit and vegetables would be preserved and pickled, the meat would be hung or salted.

Most slave quarters were little more than wooden shacks, with a fire for the cold winter nights and netting to keep out the mosquitoes during the summer months.

The daily toil of a slave would consist of a very early start, probably at sunrise, working through to midday, when the heat would be unbearable. They would stop for a meal and rest for a few hours before retuning to the fields for the last hours of sunlight.

The winter months were less demanding, with plowing, sowing and remedial tasks taking up the hours.

The women would often work in the big house, cleaning, cooking and helping to raise the children.

The version depicted in movies and on the pages of fiction novels often portray cruelty and violence. This obviously happened, but was the exception rather than the rule, every slave purchased was an investment and held a value to the owner. Only a fool would destroy that. Runaways were quite frequent, but often they would return voluntarily after a short period of freedom, some would try to escape completely from the area. This in itself, indicates that there was a desperate desire for a better life elsewhere.

Religion played a large part in the lives of everyone. Catholicism preached that suffering would be rewarded with salvation and eternal life. However, many still discretely practiced voodoo, which could be easily woven into Christianity.

The mighty Mississippi served as a lifeline, offering regular supplies of food, machinery, tools, furniture, fuel and other necessities. Along the river, each plantation had its own dock enabling easy transportation of goods to and from the site.

 

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Plantation cabin
Oak Alley plantation, barn interior
Slave auction poster

 

RELATED PAGES
The Slave Trade
Africans
Antebellum Period
Emancipation
Voodoo
Native Tribes
Politics
Religion
New Orleans
The French
The Spanish
The Mississippi
Wars
Weather
Heroes & Villains
Law and Order
Jim Crow
Ecology
The Irish
Law and Order
A - Z Page Index

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