"S" is for Slave Labor

Jul 23, 2018

Credit SC Public Radio

"S" is for Slave Labor. Slavery was work, and for most slaves it was monotonous and relatively undifferentiated labor. Lowcountry South Carolina plantations were distinguished by the use of the task system rather than gang labor. Under this system a slave cultivated a certain measure of land—normally a quarter of an acre—and had the rest of the day to him- or herself when the task was completed. Fifty miles inland the choice between tasking or gang labor depended largely on the size of the estate. Small farmers with few slaves usually could not afford the task system. In the upcountry gang labor prevailed with slaves working on the traditional routine from sunup to sundown. Urban slavery had its special demands and labor practices. Masters could and did hire out slave labor to others.