Richard Ligon, The True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados (1657)
The next meeting of the History Journal Club will be held on Tuesday, October 20th at 2pm in DM370. For the October meeting, we will focus on reading and using secondary sources. To help us springboard into that discussion, the October article is Linford D. Fisher, “‘Dangerous Designes’: The 1676 Barbados Act to Prohibit New England Indian Slave Importation.”
On June 14, 1676, the Assembly of Barbados passed an act that prohibited the importation of Indians. This essay provides a transcript of the full text of this act—previously thought lost to historians—and situates it within the immediate context of Barbados in the 1670s as well as events in English North America, particularly King Philip’s War. The full text of the 1676 act makes several things clear. First, the act itself only prohibited the ongoing importation of enslaved New England Indians; it was not intended to outlaw Indian enslavement in general on the island. Second, Barbadian fears regarding New England Indians were rooted in the May 1675 attempted African revolt on Barbados, not the Indian uprisings on neighboring Caribbean islands. Third, the act suggests that New England Indians were being shipped to Barbados in enough numbers to warrant an entire law that specifically targeted them. The great lengths to which Barbados planters went to root out the presence of enslaved New England Indians is especially evident through comparison with Jamaica and New York, where Indian slaves were similarly outlawed.