Chapter Three explores women’s roles in propelling the growth of Jamaica’s plantation economy. It uses a rare collection of letters authored by a female planter, Mary Elbridge, to explore the varied agricultural activities of women living in the island’s rural regions. This chapter complicates a narrative of plantation slavery that centers on sugar cultivation. Although some women did cultivate sugar, others worked as ranchers, grew pimento, ginger, cotton, and provisions. Regardless of the size of their agricultural ventures, women relied intensively on the labor of enslaved people. This chapter scrutinizes their exploitative, coercive, and violent treatment of captive Africans during the volatile era of the Maroon War. Female inhabitants in Spanish Town, the seat of the colonial government, were especially involved in the livestock industry, and many operated ranches on the outskirts of the town. Altogether, women planters and ranchers contributed to the growth of a symbiotic and incredibly profitable plantation economy.
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