Stedman's Surinam Life in an Eighteenth Century Slave

Stedman's Surinam Life in an Eighteenth Century Slave Society An Abridged Modernized Edition of Narrative of a Five Years Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam This abridgment of the Prices' acclaimed 1988 critical edition is based on Stedman's original handwritten manuscript which offers a portrait at considerable variance with the 1796 classic The unexpurgated text presented here with extensive notes and commentary constitutes one of the richest and most evocative accounts ever written of colonial life—and one of the strongest indictments ever to appear against New World slavery

3 thoughts on “Stedman's Surinam Life in an Eighteenth Century Slave Society An Abridged Modernized Edition of Narrative of a Five Years Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam

  1. Sara-Maria Sorentino Sara-Maria Sorentino says:

    best scene 18th century exchange between maroons in Surinam and European soldierstheir slavespro European afro corps “the Rangers”“In this situation we continued to lie prostrate on our arms till next morning when the sun rose and during which time a most abusive dialogue ensued between the Rebels and the Rangers both parties cursing and menacing each other at a terrible rate the first reproaching the others as being poltroons and betrayers of their countrymen whom they challenged the next day to single combat swearing they only wanted to wash their hands in the blood of such scoundrels who had been the capital hands in destroying their fine settlement while the Rangers damned the Rebels for a parcel of pitiful skulking rascals whom they would fight one to two in the open field if they dared to show their ugly faces and that they had deserted their masters being too lazy to do their work while they the Rangers would stand by the Europeans till they died after which they insulted each other by a kind of war whoop then sang victory songs and sounded their horns in defiance; after which once the popping began and thusad perpetuumthe whole night till break of day the music of their manly voices c resounding amid the echoing solitude and surrounding woods with redoubled force; and which being already dark and gloomy added much to an awful scene of pleasing dreadfulness; while according to me thetout ensemblecould not but inspire the brave with thoughts of fortitude and heroism and stamp the trembling coward for what he isat last poor Fourgeoud entered into the conversation by the help of myself and Sergeant Fowler who spoke the language as his interpreters but which created mirth than I before heard in the Colony He promised them life liberty meat drink and all they wanted but they replied with a loud laugh that they wanted nothing from him who seemed a half starved Frenchman already run away from his own country and that if he would venture to give them a visit in person he should not be hurt and might depend on not returning with an empty belly They called to us that we were to be pitied than themselves who were only a parcel of white slaves hired to be shot at and starved for fourpence a day and that they scorned to expend much of their powder upon such scarecrows who had not been the aggressors by driving them into the forest and were only obeying the commands of their masters; but if the planters and overseers dared to enter the woods themselves not a soul of such scoundrels should ever return no than the Rangers some of whom might depend on being massacred that very day or the next and they concluded by swearing that Boni should soon be the Governor of all the Colony after this they tinkled their billhooks fired a volley gave three cheers which were answered by the Rangers and all dispersed with the rising sun to our great satisfaction being heartily tired of such companyon the morning of the 22ndthe mystery again was unraveled of why the Rebels had kept shouting singing and firing round us the whole night of the 20th viz not only to cover the retreat of their friends by cutting off the pass but by their unremitting noise preventing us from hearing them who were the whole night employed—men women and children—in preparing hampers or warimbos with the finest rice yams cassava c for their subsistence during their escape and of which they had only left us the chaff and dregs for our contemplation to our great and inconceivable astonishment This most certainly was such a piece of generalship in a savage people whom we affect to despise as would have done honor to a European prince and even Frederick the Great himself needed not to have been ashamed of it” 214 5 217

  2. Bambino Bambino says:

    não me lembro de nenhum momento em ue um professor de história tenha criticado os gloriosos Descobrimentos obras como esta ou fragmentos dela deveriam ser obrigatoriamente estudadas uando se estudam os momentos coloniais as parábolas dos peixes apesar de magistrais pecam em impactoStedman é um homem do seu tempo e o seu tempo nos espaços onde a civilização colocava a pútrida pata fedia em abundância e tem culpas no cartório mas tem um bom coração e uma mente ue uestiona a sua narrativa resulta dura dolorosa mas essencial o discurso entre Stedman e o chefe dos rebeldes é um acontecimento prodigioso

  3. Kyla Kyla says:

    “Narrative of a Five Years Expedition Against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam” is a chronological travel account that achieved fame as an indictment of Caribbean slave society The text is based on Stedman’s handwritten journals where he recorded his experiences during his time as a professional soldier in colonial Suriname The book’s influence was effectively summed up by the Analytical Review “It will be impossible to peruse the numerous relations of shocking cruelties and barbarities in these volumes without a degree of painful sympathy which will often rise into horror” 51 The discovery of an earlier manuscript from 1790 prompted editors Richard and Sally Price to transcribe a rendering truthful to Stedman’s original The editors worked with the manuscript and made only minor grammatical changes Their transcription showed that the 1796 version was published with significant editorial changes These changes altered aspects of Stedman’s experiences and social commentary 33 The Prices spend ample time in the lengthy introduction deconstructing alterations between the 1790 and 1796 versions They give examples of ways the narrative was changed to make it “less radical and pro slavery” 50 In their view Stedman’s relatively moderate views on slavery lend authority to the written descriptions of events he witnessed firsthand 2 The 1790 edition clarifies Stedman’s observations on slave life and the relationships between slaves and mastersA key difference between the 1790 and the 1796 editions is the downplayed role of Joanna causing a “major transformation” with repercussions for the narrative as a whole 15 The edits and rewrites emphasized social distance between Stedman and Joanna and repeatedly stressed ineuality between their positions The Prices’ edition offers readers Stedman’s actual characterization of Joanna and her impactful place in his narrativeFaithful transcription of the original manuscript gives proper context to understandings of slavery and society in 18th century Suriname and makes this edition a valuable contribution to the field

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