Reading the Specter of Racialized Gender in Eighteenth-Century Bridgetown, Barbados
One night between October 2 and 4, 1742, an enslaved boy left his owner’s house alone. His heart may have pounded loud in his ears from fear, anxiety, and anticipation as he adjusted the concealed sword strapped to his lean waist, beneath the women’s clothes he had donned. He may have been sweating and nervous as he passed others in the dark streets on his way to his destination, avoiding eye contact and any gestures that would give him away. He would have walked carefully to avoid stumbling over the cobblestones or stepping hard on rocks with his bare feet. He may have thought about his family or friends, about never seeing them again whether he failed or succeeded in his task. Acquiring the clothes from another enslaved girl or woman was likely the result of a tense plea, filled with despair and desperation. The dress or skirts he wore were perhaps long and cumbersome, but they hid the sword, and his master thought the female clothes would mask his identity as he made his way to another white household in Bridgetown, Barbados. It is likely that his master, Dudley Crofts, ordered the boy to go to the Moore residence dressed in women’s clothes to kill Daniel Moore, his romantic rival. Mr. Moore’s wife, Agatha Moore, may have urged Crofts to get rid of her husband so that she and Crofts could marry. It is unknown what time the boy arrived at the Moore residence or who he met when he reached the tree in the garden. It might have been a nurse residing with the Moore family or another male slave named Johnny.1
We will never know the exact circumstances of his discovery but can surmise that he experienced extreme dread at the prospect of being caught as a slave in disguise and armed with a lethal weapon. Attempts to harm a white person, instigate or participate in a revolt, or otherwise enact one’s will as a slave carried at worst a death sentence, and the mode of punishment was usually painful and slow.2 Soon after his arrival to the Moore house, he was caught by someone and arrested. He would spend at least a few days in the town jail awaiting trial by three freeholders and two justices of the peace: all white men. The common jail would be crowded and dank in the tropical October of Barbados, but he would at least have been in the company of other slaves awaiting similar fates. They would perhaps speak to each other inside the cell, but the intimate conversations of the enslaved never reached the archive, and no records of his trial exist. Although he would be asked to answer for his presence at a household to which he was not bound, his words and name would not be recorded in the archive. He would be surrounded by many white men who would speak on his behalf and against him. His testimony would hold no weight in the decision of his guilt or innocence of attempted murder. He would be acquitted of all charges.3
The archive in which this enslaved boy appears is meant to represent the affairs and entanglements of white Barbadians. Descriptions of enslaved women are explicitly absent. Historical methods demand that one adhere to the logics, descriptions, and actions of the actors represented in archival documents. There are no black women mentioned and thus, nothing can be said about them here—no generalizations can be made from even a fragment. However, I argue that reexamining the boy dressed in women’s clothes, moving out and alone at night tells us something important about the presence of enslaved women in Bridgetown and the expectations and assumptions of enslaved women’s bodies, public sexualities, and the vulnerability of mobility in eighteenth-century urban Barbados. Examining the terms by which white and black women could appear in public, the boy’s female gendered performance, and the empowered sexuality of white women enables us to think about the constructions of black female subjection.4 It is precisely the specter of enslaved women in this case and in Bridgetown that allowed the boy access to darkened streets and the house of white strangers.
Traditional historical methods that rely on empirical evidence can leave scholars of female slavery at an acute disadvantage with an inability to articulate the subjective (sexual) experiences of black women in slave societies beyond the dichotomy of victim or sexual agent. Therefore, new and innovative methodologies must be applied. In the tradition of historians whose subjects by necessity, demand “constructive speculation,” because of their subjugated positions, this work takes up the call of radical or critical historians such as E. P. Thompson, who argue that “it is scarcely possible to give a coherent historical account of an incoherent presence, but some attempt must be made.”5 I also employ a feminist (historical) methodology to this court case that is necessary for producing additional knowledge about race, gender, sexuality, and power out of significantly mined and fragmented documents. This is an effort to write a “history of the dominated” and “[reclaim] the archival material for contrary purposes.”6
The purpose of this work is to persist in seeking new ways to understand enslaved female subjectivity when the colonial archive and empirical methods conspire to erase them. This methodological exercise shows how the specter or “invisible presence” of enslaved women shaped the actions and possibilities for everyone in this colonial Caribbean slave society and implicates how we read the archives of slavery in general. This particular case is just one example of how to think about the ways in which the presence of black women in a slave society informed not just the actions and positionalities of whites but also how overrepresentations of white affairs and gazes in the archive created the historical conditions by which black women can disappear. In other words, enslaved women profoundly influenced the production of labor, laws, and social subjectivities in slave societies, for white and black men and women, whether they appear in the archives or not. Critically reading this court case to think about how racial and sexual ideologies about enslaved women played out in the lives of others is an effort to exemplify how they are constituent to the archive and the lives of their contemporaries when they are not explicitly represented. It is also an effort to think about how black female sexualities were produced in a state of captivity. These are difficult questions to address within an archive that did not record the interior and intimate in the lives of the enslaved. But these questions must be pursued or we risk reproducing the very power of the archives of slavery to consign enslaved women’s sexual experiences to the unknowable.7
My methodological task of reading for enslaved women’s captive sexuality is also informed by the caution articulated by Kirsten Fischer and Jennifer L. Morgan. They urge us not to “lose sight of agency and desire [of the enslaved because] the sexual behavior of individuals remains under-theorized compared to the analysis of the impact of sexual rules and sexualized representations of colonized women and colonizing men,” and also remind us that “white women also participated in the imperialist production of images that resonated with both sexual and national meanings.”8 Indeed, this chapter seeks to link the sexual subjectivities of white women to enslaved women and men, using, “whatever sources are available . . . to try to include women’s perceptions of ‘others’ and of themselves.”9 In this way, this work relies on the juridical evidence detailing the actions of white men and women, and an enslaved boy, in order to delineate how both white and enslaved black women were subjugated differently by colonial power. In some respects it may seem as if this case cannot offer any empirical material that aids our understanding of enslaved women’s subjugation or enslaved sexuality more generally. Yet, white women’s access to particular types of power and the enslaved boy’s nocturnal public movements expose just how enslaved women were positioned ideologically within eighteenth-century urban Barbados. Pursuing the specter of enslaved women in the shadows of this archive presents a new method for us to historicize their experiences.
PERFORMING ENSLAVED WOMANHOOD : THE BOY, THE DRESS, AND THE DAGGER
In Bridgetown, Barbados, between July 1740 and the summer of 1742, Mrs. Agatha Moore, wife of Daniel Moore, had a sexual affair with Dudley Crofts, Esquire. In the midst of the affair, Agatha Moore gave birth to a daughter on May 3, 1742, whose paternity was likely not her husband’s.10 Two incidents brought the illicit sexual conduct of these lovers to public attention and subsequently to the Governor’s Council, the highest court of appeals in this British colony. The first episode occurred in May 1741, when Crofts and Mrs. Moore were caught together by her husband who had been sleeping upstairs.11 The second event transpired somewhere between October 2 and 4, 1742, as a young enslaved boy owned by Dudley Crofts, was detained in the vicinity of the Moore household dressed in women’s clothes and armed with a concealed sword.12 What ensued from these circumstances was a multifaceted legal web of petitions, criminal trials, and countersuits as the council tried to sort out what, if any, crimes had been committed by the parties involved and who would ultimately recompense for any damages incurred.
The Honorable Thomas Harrison, a justice of the peace for the precinct of Bridgetown, sat at the heart of this legal chaos. He presided over the investigation against Dudley Crofts for the “crime” of adultery and the separate case against the slave boy for purportedly conspiring to murder. And it was Harrison who was eventually held responsible for his poor handling of these proceedings.13 Gathering several witnesses to testify against Crofts for both alleged crimes, Harrison presumed Crofts’s guilt and imposed on him more than £10,000 in security bonds. In retaliation, Crofts petitioned the council for redress from financial and character damage. On October 4, 1743, the governor and council held a ten-hour session to review all depositions, petitions, and complaints related to Crofts’s plea of redress and Harrison’s statement defending his own actions.14 Among the evidence gathered and read during the council meeting was a full deposition by Agatha Moore discussing her role in the sexual affair. In addition, several other witnesses commented on whether Dudley Crofts purposely sent his armed and disguised enslaved boy to his rival’s house, or if the boy was summoned by a member of the Moore household. Both the testimonial depictions of the enslaved boy’s movements and Agatha Moore’s language describing her illicit sexual behavior reveal how discourse, prevailing racial and gendered ideologies about black women, and uses of power produced the violent sexual realties enslaved women (and men) experienced in colonial Caribbean slave societies.
There are only a few references to the boy in the Crofts versus Harrison case, but they provide insight into the power dynamics in eighteenth-century Barbados and the specter of racialized gender. The first mention of the boy dressed in women’s clothes appears in Judge Harrison’s rebuttal to Dudley Crofts’s complaint of financial and personal injury. Harrison, explaining why he imposed such a large bond for security on Crofts, argued that he felt that Crofts was a criminal threat to Daniel Moore:
The reason which induced [me] to demand such a recognizance was because [of] a complaint made to [me] by the sd Daniel Moore against a Negro of [Crofts]. The negro had taken his Masters Sword which [Crofts] acknowledged to [me] he had directed him to take and went the proceeding night therewith disguised in womens Cloaths to the house of Thomas Withers Esqr where Mr Moore lived and where the Criminal Correspondence between [Crofts] & the wife of the sd Mr Moore was carried on and as from the circumstances I had reason to believe some mischief was intended by [Crofts] against Mr Moore. . . . I thought it my Duty to require proper security from [Crofts].15
At issue for Harrison and the slave court was whether Crofts instructed his slave to attempt murder or merely permitted the boy to go to the Withers-Moore household, as he had allegedly been summoned to the Withers-Moore house by a nurse working there.16 The next few references to this incident relate to witnesses testifying whether they heard Dudley Crofts acknowledge that he directed his enslaved boy to go to the Withers-Moore household in disguise and with a sword. Most of the witnesses present in the initial confrontation between Judge Harrison and Crofts agreed that Crofts acknowledged in public that he merely allowed the boy to go. But no one could confirm if it was by Crofts’s intent to murder Daniel Moore or if the boy went responding to a summons from the Moore household. Crofts, his lawyer Thomas Lake, and two other witnesses testified that the boy was summoned to the house by another male slave named Johnny who carried a message from the nurse, beckoning him to come at night and meet her “under a tree.” They argue that he took the sword, with Crofts’s permission, to defend himself from possible attack by another enslaved male named Johnny belonging to Mr. Withers or Mr. Moore.17 We do not have testimony in the voice of the enslaved boy, only fleeting moments where white male deponents state what they heard him say.
Samuel Webb, a witness called on behalf of Dudley Croft, deposed, That he did not hear the said Crofts say he delivered his Boy or Directed him to take a sword along with him up to Mr. Wither’s where the said Daniel Moore then lived but he heard his Boy say and Acknowledge that a negroe named John belonging to the said Withers having Come to him & told him that the nurse at Mr Withers desired he would come to her under a tree in the Garden. He of his own Accord took a [illegible] [sword or dagger] of his masters in order to Defend himself.18
The boy was eventually acquitted of all charges against him, an unusual action given his deceptive disguise and possession of a lethal weapon. According to further testimony by witness Richard Hall, “it did not appear upon the trial of the said negro that he had made any attempts upon the House or Doors of Mr. Withers or that he offered any violence whatever, upon which he was acquitted.”19 However, it is clear that Judge Harrison and the men who tried him did not believe he acted on his own accord. In this instance we might consider how “will” is both recognized and disregarded by the colonial authorities in reference to enslaved criminality.20 This was both an example of how colonial slave law arbitrarily recognized the boy’s humanity in order to try him for his purported criminal actions while at the same time denying he could have enacted his own will apart from the desires of his master. That he was acquitted despite being caught armed and in disguise elucidates how the authorities could ultimately decide when to consider enslaved people as sentient beings and when to deny their humanity and will.
It is also plausible that Crofts’s motive for sending the boy was murder, as Agatha Moore stated in her deposition, “for that if her said Husband died, she would perform the Promise or Oath she had made to him, that she would marry the said Dudley Crofts.”21 Did Agatha Moore then, enable the enslaved boy’s actions of attempt to murder by suggesting to Crofts that if he would do something to get rid of her husband she would marry him? Is this statement, so easily dismissed by Governor Robinson in later proceedings, evidence that the boy was directed to commit violence against a white man and thus risk death himself ?22
Since the enslaved could not deny the requests of their owners, we might consider how the boy’s actions were an enactment of his owner’s will. Through his actions, the boy was caught as an accessory to Crofts’s sexual desires, entangled in Crofts’s sexual interactions with Agatha Moore and his desire to possess her. Because “the notion of will connotes more than simply the ability to act and to do; rather, it distinguishes the autonomous agent from the enslaved,” the boy could not refuse or disobey direction and was forced to participate in his own possible demise by being caught in a white household under questionable circumstances.23 In other words, the boy became a (sexual) vessel for white men and women’s sexual desires. This is the fungibility of the enslaved exemplified. He faced danger in both resisting his master’s will and in possibly attempting to murder or bring harm to any white, which carried the sentence of death.24 Moreover, the absence of testimonial discussion as to why the enslaved boy donned women’s clothes points to the ontological condition of enslaved people and how racialized gender functioned in this colonial slave society.25 In one way, this lack of concern addressed the enslaved boy’s nonthreatening gender behavior. In “womens cloaths,” he did not elicit a (sexual) threat to white masculinity.26 But there is more at stake here. In addition to the slave boy’s unremarkable attire, we might ask what social expectations allowed a disguised enslaved “woman” to approach a white household at night?
In eighteenth-century Bridgetown, as with many other Caribbean port cities dependent on domestic work, enslaved women were in the demographic majority. Hundreds of ships a year called at Bridgetown, the capital port city in which Agatha Moore and the enslaved boy resided; such ships were laden with material products and captive Africans, who supplied the labor for sugar plantations as well as domestic labor in town. Although demographic sources are rare for the eighteenth century, Jerome Handler estimates that in 1786 approximately 62,115 slaves, 16,167 whites, and 838 free people of color were living in the colony.27 The gender demographics of Barbados and Bridgetown were also unique for a Caribbean colony. Unlike Jamaica and the Leeward Islands, Barbados attained a slight majority of white women in the population by the early eighteenth century. For example, Hilary Beckles states that “in Jamaica, white women constituted no more than 40 percent of the white community up to 1780, while as early as 1715 white women outnumbered white men in Barbados by one percent, and by seven percent in 1748, leveling off at about fifty-two percent female for the remainder of the slavery period.”28 Understanding this has implications for our analysis of white and black women in the eighteenth-century Caribbean. By the early eighteenth century, white women in Barbados constituted a slight majority of the population of the island at about 51 percent and remained so until the era of emancipation.29 The lack of a critical mass of white women in Jamaica and the Leewards shaped the economic, social, and sexual opportunities for white women in a distinctly different way than for white women in Barbados.30 Additionally, women of African descent also constituted a majority of the enslaved population, particularly in towns. In Bridgetown, these female majorities influenced the sexual-cultural character of urban slave society. For example, Beckles’s scholarship challenges Caribbean historiography that focuses on the planter triarch,” showing that “58 per cent of slave owners in [Bridgetown] were female, mostly white . . . [and] women owned 54 per cent of the slaves in town.” Furthermore, he points out that “white women also owned more female slaves than male slaves.”31 How then, do we historicize white and enslaved women’s sexuality in a slave society where they inhabited the demographic majority?
As urban dwellers, enslaved women served white people in various capacities. They were domestic servants, nursemaids, wet nurses, sex slaves either for personal hire or for service in a brothel, washerwomen, and market women. If the enslaved boy had been instructed to murder Daniel Moore (a likely possibility despite his acquittal), an enslaved woman who was a stranger to a household would have been more easily admitted than an enslaved male. Black women constituted the majority of household servants, and interactions between white men and black women occurred frequently. It would not have been odd for a female slave to arrive at a stranger’s house on some errand. In addition, black women’s access to public space marked a difference in gendered and sexual expectations for enslaved women and white women.32 Elite white women were not allowed in public unaccompanied, especially at night. Their sexuality was hidden, protected, and defended in the name of honor and virtue, which were at the very heart of white female identity. The frequency with which black women traversed urban spaces suggests how they were perceived as sexual agents, lascivious, and “unwomanly.” As objects of commerce for different types of (sexual) labor, enslaved women were not associated with virtue nor were their sexual identities protected from harm. Indeed, as Edward Long discusses in reference to enslaved wet nurses and domestic slaves, “there is scarcely one of these nurses who is not a common prostitute, or at least who has not had commerce with more than one man.”33 In contrast, Long’s observations about the roles white women occupied, equally demonstrate varied perceptions of black and white womanhood and implied sexualities. He states that “the domestic life of [white] women, which prevents them from exercising abroad as much as the other sex, naturally inclines them to love those active amusements which may be followed within doors.”34
Enslaved women’s mobility outside the domestic realm evoked a certain type of freedom that white women could not exercise. Carefully reading the enslaved boy’s movements and performance in female dress, through town and at night, exposes the ways in which enslaved and black women’s seemingly unfettered mobility was actually a position of vulnerability in this slave society. White women were protected by law and domestic enclosure, whereas enslaved women were required to perform a particular type of public availability resulting in exposure. Dudley Crofts, through his enslaved boy, exploited this understanding of black women’s public exposure and position, sending him out to perform the normative embodiment of black womanhood as publicly visible, unchaste, lascivious, sexually wanton, and available to serve.
Another way to consider the circumstances and consequences of the boy’s surreptitious movements is to understand the intimacy of whites and the enslaved in the domestic sphere. As the court case makes clear, there was a dispute between two white households, which would cause anxiety for the enslaved laboring in each house. White strife and the breakup of households had profound effects for those bound to their owners in slavery. White unrest might lead to liquidation of assets and in turn lead to slave sales or labor reassignment. Many white families had relatives on country estates and were involved in sugar production. Slaves could be moved around from town to country if households were in flux. A palpable fear would certainly have been felt by the enslaved of Crofts and Moore.35 Moreover, despite racial rules of conduct, particularly those that regulated the behavior of enslaved and free Afro-Barbadians, household slaves served their owners intimately and would have absolutely been aware of Mrs. Moore’s infidelities and sexual transgressions.36 Perhaps the stress of the situation led the enslaved of each household to threaten each other. Moreover, the boy may have been caught in a trap set by the “white” nurse, who in trying to protect her family charges in the Withers-Moore home was trying to stop the affair between Crofts and Agatha Moore, and used the armed boy to bring the situation to the public.37
Most relevant in this discussion are the ways in which enslaved subjectivity (subjugated and criminalized), male and female, enabled particular types of social, racial, sexual, and gendered power for white men and women. Key to understanding this, in the absence of a comparable archive for enslaved men and women, is a discussion of the labor and sexual roles they performed in the context of a colonial port city such as Bridgetown, Barbados. In addition, establishing the singularity and similarities of this site and court case to other Caribbean contexts will further illuminate the specific relations of power deployed through sexuality constituent to such slave societies.38 In other words, what made Agatha Moore’s sexual agency possible? How was her agency predicated on the sexual exploitation of enslaved women and men? What does the performance of black womanhood enable the boy to accomplish in eighteenth-century Bridgetown, and what are the terms by which white and black women could be in public? Exposing the relations of power here—economic, gendered, racial, and sexual—changes the ways in which we historicize white women’s relationship to patriarchy in slave societies. And, the movements of a boy dressed as a black female relates directly to white women’s sexualities and social power.
Although certainly hindered by patriarchal norms that placed white women in a subordinate economic, social, and political position to white men, there is substantial evidence that white women maintained economic power through slave ownership and certainly shaped what was acceptable and unacceptable sexual behavior in Barbados. In the following deposition, I argue that, aside from the power to subsist economically, Agatha Moore was able to access and deny a type of sexual agency even in her ruin, which enabled a privilege unavailable to enslaved women.
WHITE WOMEN AND DISTRESSED SEXUALITY
The following discussion explores how white women in slave societies, caught behaving counter to normative gender, racial, and sexual expectations could rhetorically deploy what I term distressed sexuality in order to challenge the ruin and shame attached to their actions. For the purposes of this discussion, distressed sexuality encompasses two related meanings. The first refers to the actual affliction white women experienced from the public disgrace of their perceived sexual deviance in the context of the eighteenth-century Caribbean. This speaks to how existing gender norms regulated white women’s sociosexual behavior in relation to white men, black men, and black women. There were rigid gender and sexual expectations in place for white women.39 The second part of the concept signifies the agency available to white women in “shame”—that is, their ability to make certain claims about their inviolability despite “consenting” to transgressive sexual acts. This is achieved by claiming to consent to sexually illicit acts “unhappily” or “against better judgment” in order to maintain one’s virtue. Sexual inviolability and consent represent agential acts and subjective statuses to which black women in the same society had no access.
Discourses of sexual behavior, either the “virtuous comportment” of white women or the “lasciviousness” of black women dictated the nature of sexual performance publically and privately. I use this case to articulate how more diffuse forms of power—different from overt physical modes—were used to negate enslaved women’s sexualities and leave them vulnerable to sexual violence.40 We know that racial and gendered subjugation of enslaved men and women was maintained through repeated acts of violence and terror.41 Gender and racial hierarchies in slave societies required constant articulation because these hierarchies were inherently unstable as the enslaved resisted at every turn.42 These reiterations of power (i.e., the ways in which white patriarchal power reasserted itself in the face of challenge or instability) took place during the commodification process on slave ships, at the auction block, through the force of whip and law, and most importantly for this chapter, within the realm of sexuality, sexual behavior, and sexual violence.43 One of the ways to pinpoint these instabilities and demarcate the reiteration of patriarchal and white supremacist power in slave societies is to track the moments of identity crisis. As the Crofts versus Harrison court case demonstrates, seemingly “stable” gender and racial identities did falter, and Agatha Moore’s deposition and the boy’s female apparel and mobility allow us to map the ways in which white female sexual identity might be reaffirmed, especially in a situation of distress. Furthermore, the power of white women to “reaffirm” their “virtuous” identities equated to a kind of sexual agency that enslaved women could never acquire, as they were “property” and could not assert decisions in sexual encounters.
While examining the intricacies of white female distressed sexuality, I refer back to the specter of racialized gender in the experiences of the young boy who was forced to enact his master’s (sexual) will through gender disguise, thereby exemplifying the underlying racial and gendered ideologies about black women and their expected presence in the domestic realm of white households. This also examines how both black males and females were forced to surrogate their owners’ sexualities, a further subjugation in their enslaved status. In order to make more general comments about how white women’s Georgian sexualities were in a dialectical relationship with enslaved women, it is necessary to understand and elucidate the circulation of both types of racialized sexual ideologies to gain a more complete picture of enslaved women’s sexualized lives. Closely examining how patriarchy produced a relational subjection of black and white women in eighteenth-century Barbados, and perhaps Caribbean slave societies more generally, allows us to gain new insight into black female subjection in the absence of an archive documenting their powerlessness.44 My application of theoretical texts to the study of the available archives is an effort to get at the palimpsestic nature of archival sources, the quotidian and complex experiences of sexuality in slave societies, and the archival silences of enslaved women inherent in archives of slavery.45 Thus, closely reading the deposition of Agatha Moore enables an elaboration of the parameters of sexual culture in eighteenth-century Barbados, thereby implicating the limits and domination of black female sexuality.
AGATHA MOORE: DEPOSED
On October 11, 1742, Judge Harrison took a long statement from Mrs. Moore regarding her role in the sexual liaison with Dudley Crofts. Neither Mrs. Moore’s husband, Daniel, nor Crofts seemed to object to this action, and Crofts was invited to cross-examine her but did not show up.46 In her deposition, related by Harrison in the third person, Agatha Moore explains how Crofts began his seduction of her:
[Deponent] positively says that she never gave the said Dudley Crofts any hints or signs to encourage him to endeavor to seduce her . . . the said Dudley Crofts very much importun’d her to commit adultery with him which she then refused declaring she could not consent to his desires as it would be cruelly injuring to her Husband and she could not answer it on any account but he then very much pressing that the next time they had a convenient opportunity she would give him her promise she was prevailed on by him to promise she would.47
Her deposition continues to recount the several sexual encounters she had with Crofts:
In the said month of July in the said Year one thousand seven hundred and forty [when] her Husband the said Daniel Moore being gone to Scotland [district]48 the said Dudley Crofts came up to her said Father’s house [her father being off the island] . . . and after dinner he the said Dudley Crofts claimed the promise which the said Deponent had before made to him and which promise this Deponent then very unhappily complyd with by suffering the sd Dudley Crofts then to commit adultery with this Depont. And which he afterwards from time to time repeated with this depnt as they had convenient opportunities.49
Crofts and Mrs. Moore were eventually caught together by her husband in May 1741, and Mrs. Moore was later discovered writing a letter to Crofts. She admitted through carefully crafted language that though she left the island after discovery by her husband, when she returned she continued to correspond with Crofts by letter and she, “having acquainted him of her Husband [soon] being gone, the said Dudley Crofts came up to this . . . house & then & there committed adultery with her, which he has never done since.”50 She ends her statement by saying that she asked to Crofts to cease writing to her, “for that if her said Husband died, she would perform the Promise or Oath she had made to him, that she would marry the said Dudley Crofts.”51 In the midst of the affair that began in 1740 and continued until the summer of 1742, Agatha Moore gave birth to a daughter on May 3, 1742, whose paternity remains questionable.52
This deposition from a young elite white woman in the 1740s admitting to transgressive sexual behavior is remarkable in its context. It remains the only case of its kind found in the minutes of the Barbados Council from 1700 to 1800. Although there may be cases against bastardy and adultery in the lower courts of common pleas, this case represents an unusual window into the intimate lives of Barbados’s white elites.53 Moreover, Governor Thomas Robinson, who made the final decision in these cases, declared that “it does not appear that any good or Lawful use could be made of so extraordinary [a] Deposition [by Agatha Moore] which his [Excellency] said he belivd was without Example.”54 His remarks might be a way to protect the image of the “virtuous white woman” by claiming that Agatha’s deposition and behavior were the exception—an aberration to the societal norm.
One could easily argue that Agatha Moore was a victim of patriarchy in this case. Mrs. Moore’s centrality to the events and her testimony were relegated to supportive evidence, and the case was essentially about deciding which white male involved was dishonored. All the white men involved in the proceedings, as plaintiffs or defendants, more or less reclaimed their lives, and their reputations were redeemed in the course of the case.55 Judge Harrison was censured by the council and forced to resign all public positions except his elected seat of vestryman of St. Michael’s Parish. Crofts paid a £200 fine for adultery but was vindicated of any alleged criminal behavior, and Daniel Moore resumed his business as a merchant.56 In contrast, Agatha Moore disappears from the Barbados archive, though she may appear in British documents abroad. The deposition is awkward and disempowers Mrs. Moore on multiple levels, most strikingly in the way it states what she the “deponent” said, but never in her own words or through direct quotes. This legal format conspires to distort her testimony in significant ways most obviously by substituting what she actually said with Judge Harrison’s interpretation of her testimony in third person. Additionally, her absence at the council meeting, a space for propertied white men only, left her without the ability to clarify and defend herself against the language of “whoredom” that permeates this historical record. Mrs. Moore would likely have been socially ruined, despite her “honesty,” and leaving the island was probably her only recourse. Yet, on further examination of her language and position, I argue that Mrs. Moore was not necessarily destitute. And, recognizing the resources she accessed even in her sexual distress, demonstrates her ability to harness a type of power to which enslaved, freed, and free black women did not have access.57
When Mrs. Moore came of age, she inherited residential properties in Bridgetown.58 We know from the laws of the time that white women surrendered their property upon marriage, yet many wills left by widows demonstrate both a retention of property through their marriages but also their attempts to circumvent the laws by giving property in trust to a male friend so as not to have their property seized by marriage.59 If she was forced to flee Barbados, she took with her material resources to support herself. More important for understanding the various types of power within this slave society is how Agatha Moore in her deposition utilized rhetorical strategies that appealed to the patriarchal system in place, denying her agency in order to recoup her gendered and racial power, while at the same time subtly pronouncing her free will.
Claiming “seduction” by Crofts, Agatha Moore disputes her consent (and will) in the affair. She states that “she never gave the said Dudley Crofts any hints or signs to encourage him to endeavor to seduce her” and that “[she] unhappily complyd . . . by suffering the sd Dudley Crofts then to commit adultery with this Depont.”60 This language was meant to elicit sympathy from the prospective audience in arguing that she unwillingly participated in “immoral” behavior. Putting on record that she did not initiate the affair or the advances from Crofts allowed her the discursive room to claim innocence and a certain type of victimization through the discourses of seduction. In Saidiya Hartman’s scholarship, “discourses of seduction” refers to the ways in which enslaved women were presumably always willing in sexual encounters despite the fact that their status as enslaved prevented their refusal. Hartman argues that “seduction makes recourse to the idea of reciprocal and collusive relations and engenders a precipitating construction of black female sexuality in which rape is unimaginable.”61 Hartman is speaking specifically about the consequences of sexual renditions of enslaved women as sexual agents. In Agatha Moore’s discursive strategy, discourses of seduction become the means through which Agatha Moore can claim victimization.62 These divergent meanings of seduction enacted on white and black female bodies mark precisely the relational or dialectical sexual configurations of white and black female sexualities. The fact that Agatha Moore could speak about her “unwillingness” to engage in transgressive sexual acts and blame her “seduction” on Crofts delimits the significant schism between the sexual subjectivities of white women and enslaved women. White women could defend their honor, even in sexual distress, whereas enslaved women, as property, a status that implied their sexual availability to men, could not even give consent.
Confounding her denial of sexual agency (white women certainly were not allowed to claim sexual agency in the traditional sense), Agatha Moore then admitted to informing Crofts of “convenient” moments when they might have sex undisturbed and promised Crofts that she would marry him if anything happened to her husband.63 This latter point lends evidence to the possibility that Crofts sent his slave boy to murder her husband to hasten the process by which he might fully and legally possess Mrs. Moore. She may have unwittingly encouraged the murder of her husband by Crofts’s enslaved boy. Equally important are the ways in which Mrs. Moore inhabited a status of privilege, allowing her a range of discursive options to defend herself in the face of sexual distress. These options spoke to a specific type of subjection that both oppressed her as a woman and empowered her as a white woman.
Michel Foucault has raised questions about the relationship between discourses of sex and power relations that can be used to further analyze this case: “In a specific type of discourse on sex, in a specific form of exhortation of the truth, appearing historically and in specific places . . . what were the most immediate, the most local power relations at work? And, how were these discourses used to support power relations?”64 Ideology and discourse shaped the life conditions, experiences of freedom and enslavement, for everyone in slave societies. Combined, the discursive power of racial ideology worked in force to subjugate, mark as deviant, and make sexually accessible black women’s bodies for public consumption at the same time and in relation to the ways in which white women were figured through law, gender, race, and sexual norms. As stated earlier, discourses of sexual behavior, either the virtuous comportment of white women or the lasciviousness of black women, dictated the nature of sexual performance publically and privately. Agatha Moore’s deposition and her language within it represent the rhetorical space that white women could exploit to feign innocence. Beyond mere rhetoric, Agatha Moore’s (sexual) subjectivity was made clear in this moment. The concept of “seduction is a meditation on liberty and slavery; and will and subjection in the arena of sexuality.”65 Mrs. Moore’s ability to claim seduction and disempowerment ironically spoke to her empowerment within this system of racial hierarchy. Contrary to the ways in which the concept of agency is utilized in historical scholarship on slavery as resistance to domination, Mrs. Moore denied her agency, appealing to patriarchal norms (of white female submission and honor) in an attempt to rescue her innocence and sexual virtue. Moore thus reproduced the “discourses used to support power relations” in Barbados slave society; her innocence or guilt and her ability to speak at all on her own behalf expose the perhaps more subtle forms of power available to white women. Moreover, Agatha Moore’s “shame” in her sexual distress meant that she inhabited a position of status from which to fall. This status, although tenuous, gave her a position of power over enslaved, freed, and free black women in the same society. Of course, if Agatha Moore had been caught having sex with a black man, free or enslaved, her power to evoke “unwilling consent” would be greatly reduced. In all likelihood, her ruin would have been unrecoverable unless she claimed rape. Yet, however limiting the double standard of interracial sex was for white men and women in Caribbean slave societies, Agatha Moore’s recourse to exclaiming rape not only elaborates her power but also highlights the disem-powered enslaved male whose imminent execution followed any such encounter by the eighteenth century. All of these strategies—these avenues that bespoke her status, subjectivity, and placement in the racial and gendered hierarchy—were possible because of the subjugation of black women.
It is nearly impossible to track enslaved women’s sexual desire in the archive beyond their strategies seeking material comfort. The project of recovering black women’s sexual desire in slavery pushes us against a troubling dichotomy of sexual victim and sexual agent. Other scholarship about similar cases involving white men and women, in both Jamaica and the Leeward Islands prove useful in understanding the sociosexual world of the eighteenth-century Caribbean, but I argue more might be elucidated on this topic. Trevor Burnard’s “‘A Matron in Rank, a Prostitute in Manners’: The Manning Divorce of 1741 and Class, Gender, Race, and the Law in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica,” exposes through an analysis of Mrs. Manning’s alleged adultery that white women “were seriously disadvantaged in [Jamaica].” Burnard argues that “[the] aftermath of the case illustrates the handicaps White women faced in a society designed almost solely for White men.”66 A white woman accused of both adultery with a white man who was a political rival to her husband and of having sex with male slaves was shamed by the norms of Jamaican society, suffering a public divorce and moral ruin while the white men in the case essentially escaped such public dishonor. One could argue that Agatha Moore, like Mrs. Manning, fell victim to similar ruin and her disappearance from the archives traces her forced flight from Barbados’s society and a level of “historical invisibility.”67 Yet, Agatha Moore’s substantial deposition given in her own defense reveals how the particularities of Barbados demographics and the recourse she had to voice her position shows striking differences in the lives of these two women and in these two Caribbean slave societies.
Similarly, by examining several cases of adultery and sexual transgressions in the Leeward Islands among white men and women, Natalie Zacek contends that “the idea that early modern English society was sexually restrained and that of the West Indian colonies promiscuous and unfettered is a false dichotomy that has been continuously reified by scholars.”68 Interrogating several cases in which white men and women engaged in extramarital affairs and were punished and shunned and a case in which a brother and sister implicated in an incestuous relationship were protected by nonfamily members, Zacek concludes that “white society in the Leewards proved itself willing, if not always pleased, to accommodate certain forms of sexual license, but it fervently resisted those which it saw as directly assaulting or mocking the patriarchal ideals upon which colonial British American society was based.”69 At stake for both Burnard and Zacek is an examination of the transgressive sexual behaviors between whites in Caribbean slave societies, the relationship between carnal regulation in the metropole and British colonies, and perhaps the degree to which sexual culture changed and adapted from Europe across the Atlantic.70
Comparatively, in the historical scholarship on enslaved women, our desire to search for agential acts has led to conversations about their limited “choices” within the system and the material and economic benefit they gained through their relationships with white men. This may have come in the form of eventual freedom for themselves or their children or both, and other “privileges” they may have acquired through concubine relationships. The limits to these analyses of freedom and material accumulation, especially contrasted with white women such as Agatha Moore, are that these gains did not result in arresting the lingering hypersexualized ideologies of black women, as this type of sexual distress did not disappear in freedom. Black women’s bodies were not afforded the same protections as those of white women, and the Crofts court case makes clear that, even in sexual distress, white women had avenues of physical and material if not emotional escape and cultural capital with which their reputations could be at least marginally repaired in instances of “fornication” and even in cases of rape that were adjudicated through colonial law.71 This is to point out how white and black women experienced sexuality in vastly distinct ways.
In conclusion, how do we write histories of sexuality and domination that do not merely reproduce the colonial masculine gaze? Kathleen Brown and Sharon Block share these concerns by asking “in connecting sexuality to broader systems of power, how do we best avoid replicating the dynamics of colonial society in our own histories?”72 To avoid this, we must remain attentive to the multivalent power relations that impacted enslaved women in the eighteenth-century Caribbean and continue to develop new methods for historicizing the specter of racialized gender in the archives of slavery.
1. For another account of this scene or this case and the genealogies of the white families involved, see Karl Watson, “Obsession, Betrayal and Sex in Eighteenth-Century Bridgetown,” Journal of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society 51 (2005): 242–62.
2. See John Baskett, ed., Acts of Assembly, Passed in the Island of Barbadoes from 1648 to 1718 (London: By Order of the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations, 1732), 118–26. “If any Negro or Slave whatsoever shall offer any Violence to any Christian, by Striking, or the like, such Negro or other Slave shall, for his or her first Offence, by Information given up on Oath . . . shall be severely whipped by the Constable . . . for his second Offence of that nature, he shall be severely whipped, his Nose slit, and be burned in some part of his Face with a hot Iron.”
3. Barbados Minutes of Council CO31 / 21 / D1: 43–90, National Archives London (hereafter NAL).
4. I use subjection here in the Foucauldian sense, as Judith Butler explains, “Foucault refers to subjection in Discipline and Punish, and this word, as is well known, carries a double meaning: assujetissement means both subjection (in the sense of subordination) and becoming a subject.” Judith Butler, “Bodies and Power, Revisited,” Radical Philosophy: A Journal of Socialist and Feminist Philosophy 114 (2002): 16.
5. E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (London: Victor Gollancz, 1966), 451.
6. Saidiya Hartman, Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 10.
7. See Camilla Townsend, introduction, in Malitzin’s Choices: An Indian Woman in the Conquest of Mexico (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006), 1–10. In her introduction, Townsend discusses the risk of leaving undocumented historical subjects to historical obscurity.
8. Kirsten Fischer and Jennifer L. Morgan, “Race and the Colonial Project,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 60, no. 1 (2003): 197.
9. Ibid., 198.
10. Watson, “Obsession, Betrayal and Sex in Eighteenth-Century Bridgetown,” 347. I am indebted to Dr. Watson for bringing this case to my attention when I was a graduate student in Barbados. Through dumb luck, as sometimes happens with archival research, I stumbled across the original documents in the National Archives in Kew (London) shortly thereafter. Watson has since published an important analysis of the many details of this case, including a thorough genealogy of the Withers / Moore, Crofts, and Harrison families. See Watson, “Obsession, Betrayal and Sex.”
11. Barbados Minutes of Council CO31 / 21 / D1: 66, NAL.
12. Ibid., 51.
13. Ibid., 76–90.
14. Ibid., 43–90.
15. Ibid., 51.
16. The name Withers refers to Mr. Withers, Agatha Moore’s father. Mrs. Moore’s maiden name was Withers; she and her husband lived in her father’s house on High Street in Bridgetown at the time of this case. See Watson, “Obsession, Betrayal and Sex,” 243.
17. Barbados Minutes of Council CO31 / 21 / D1: 68, NAL.
18. Ibid., 58.
19. Ibid., 69.
20. Hartman, Scenes of Subjection, 85–86.
22. The Barbados Slave Act of 1661, which was modified in 1676, 1682, and 1688, made it a capital offence for a slave to murder or attempt to murder a white person. For the text of these laws, see Baskett, Acts of Assembly.
23. Hartman, Scenes of Subjection, 81.
24. Baskett, Acts of Assembly, 118–26.
25. See Kathleen M. Brown, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996), wherein she discusses the case of Thomas Hall, a white indentured servant who was likely an hermaphrodite, esp. pp. 75–80.
26. It is also presumed that the boy was not dressed in white women’s clothes, which would have certainly brought a significant amount of censure, as clothing and material culture also reinforced status in slave societies.
27. Jerome S. Handler, The Unappropriated People: Freedmen in the Slave Society of Barbados (Kingston, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press, 2009), 18–19.
28. Hilary McD. Beckles, Centering Woman: Gender Discourses in Caribbean Slave Society (Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 1998), 64.
29. Hilary McD. Beckles, Natural Rebels: A Social History of Enslaved Women in Barbados (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1989), 14–15.
30. See Trevor Burnard, “‘A Matron in Rank, a Prostitute in Manners . . .’: The Manning Divorce of 1741 and Class, Race, Gender, and the Law in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica,” in Working Slavery, Pricing Freedom: Perspectives from the Caribbean, Africa and the African Diaspora, ed. Verene Shepherd (London: St Martin’s Press, 2002), 133–52; and Natalie Zacek, “Sex, Sexuality, and Social Control in the Eighteenth-Century Leeward Islands,” in Sex and Sexuality in Early America, ed. Merril D. Smith (New York: New York University Press, 1998).
31. Hilary McD. Beckles, “White Women and Slavery in the Caribbean,” History Workshop Journal 36 (1993): 69–70.
32. See, for example, the discussion of the denigrating sexual images and sexual exploitation of enslaved women in the Caribbean in Barbara Bush, Slave Women in Caribbean Society, 1650–1838 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), esp. pp. 110–18.
33. Edward Long, The History of Jamaica, 3 vols. (London: T. Lowndes, 1774), 2:276–77.
34. Ibid., 2:541.
35. Watson, “Obsession, Betrayal and Sex,” 254.
38. The concept of “relations of power” is borrowed from Foucault, who argues that “we need a new economy (read theory) of power relations” that tracks how power relations are acted out—or more specifically, how power relations (which connote a relationship between entities) can be understood as struggles or a series of strategies employed to achieve submission of the other. See Michel Foucault, “The Subject and Power,” Critical Inquiry 8, no. 4 (1982): 777–95.
39. For a partial list of scholarship on white women in plantation societies, see Anne Firor Scott, The Southern Lady: From Pedestal to Politics, 1830–1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970); Catherine Clinton, The Plantation Mistress: Woman’s World in the Old South (New York: Pantheon Books, 1982); Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988); Brenda E. Stevenson, Life in Black and White: Family and Community in the Slave South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997); Kirsten Fischer, Suspect Relations: Sex, Race, and Resistance in Colonial North Carolina (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2001); Burnard, “A Matron in Rank”; Sharon Block, Rape and Sexual Power in Early America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006); and Thavolia Glymph, Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008). I am also aware of Brooke Newman’s “Gender, Sexuality, and the Formation of Racial Identities in the Eighteenth-Century Anglo Caribbean World,” Gender and History 22, no. 3 (2010): 585–602.
40. This work in the United States began with Deborah Gray White’s text, Ar’n’t I a Woman? Female Slaves in the Plantation South (New York: W. W. Norton, 1985). Other scholarship to which this chapter is indebted includes Beckles, Natural Rebels; Bush, Slave Women in Caribbean Society; Betty Wood, Women’s Work, Men’s Work: The Informal Slave Economies of Lowcountry Georgia (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995); Jacqueline Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family from Slavery to the Present (New York: Vintage Books, 1985); Kathleen Brown, Good Wives; David Barry Gaspar and Darlene Clark Hine, eds., More than Chattel: Black Women and Slavery in the Americas (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996); Hartman, Scenes of Subjection; Leslie Schwalm, A Hard Fight for We: Women’s Transition from Slavery to Freedom in South Carolina (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997); Beckles, Centering Woman; Leslie M. Harris, In the Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City, 1626–1863 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003); Trevor Burnard, Mastery, Tyranny, and Desire: Thomas Thistlewood and His Slaves in the Anglo-Jamaican World (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003); Jennifer L. Morgan, Laboring Women: Gender and Reproduction in New World Slavery (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004); Stephanie M. H. Camp, Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004); Daina Ramey Berry, Swing the Sickle for the Harvest Is Ripe: Gender and Slavery in Antebellum Georgia (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007); Cecily Jones, Engendering Whiteness: White Women and Colonialism in Barbados and North Carolina, 1627–1865 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007); Glymph, Out of the House; and Saidiya Hartman, Lose Your Mother: A Journey along the Atlantic Slave Route (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008).
41. For an example of terrorizing techniques employed by colonial authorities in Jamaica that went beyond the living, see Vincent Brown, The Reaper’s Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2010). See also Diana Paton, No Bond but the Law: Punishment, Race, and Gender in Jamaican State Formation, 1780–1870 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2004).
42. For the text from which I draw on the concept of unstable identities, see Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990), 178, wherein she explains that gender is performed and therefore produced and these repeated performances result in the effect of a norm or static state of being: or a “true gender.” Gender (and other social identities) is maintained, argues Butler, by “the tacit collective agreement to perform, produce, and sustain discrete and polar genders as cultural fictions is obscured by the credibility of those productions—and the punishments that attend not agreeing to believe in them.”
43. For a discussion about the solidification of racial categories through the policing of sex, see Fischer, Suspect Relations. This chapter applies much of Fischer’s argument to the context of eighteenth-century Barbados. My argument differs, however, in my focus on an elite white woman due to the lack of a substantial population of lower-class white women in the colony and a large gap in the archives concerning lower court cases. Moreover, I am interested in how elite discourses and sexual distress of white women shaped the limits for enslaved women in this Caribbean society.
44. On relational subjection, see Butler, “Bodies and Power, Revisited,” 16.
45. For a discussion of archival silence and enslaved women, see Marisa J. Fuentes, “Power and Historical Figuring: Rachael Pringle Polgreen’s Troubled Archive,” Gender and History 22, no. 3 (2010): 565–84.
46. Watson, “Obsession, Betrayal and Sex,” 253.
47. Barbados Minutes of Council, CO31 / 21 / D1: 65, NAL, 65.
48. The northern part of the island of Barbados. See Watson, “Obsession, Betrayal and Sex,” 255.
49. Barbados Minutes of Council CO31 / 21 / D1: 65, NAL.
52. Watson, “Obsession, Betrayal and Sex,” 347.
53. For a discussion of legal cases dealing with sexual transgressions in the colonial period, see Fischer, Suspect Relations and Natalie Zacek, Settler Society in the English Leeward Islands, 1670–1776 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010). I thank anonymous reviewer 2 for providing this important point.
54. Barbados Minutes of Council co31 / 21 / d1: 76, nal.
55. See Watson, “Obsession, Betrayal and Sex”; and Burnard, “Matron in Rank” for discussion of the subjugation of white women in this time period.
56. Watson, “Obsession, Betrayal and Sex,” 262.
57. Agatha Moore inherited property in Cheapside, Bridgetown, from her grandmother Mary Thomsome while still an infant. Although this property would transfer to her husband upon marriage, it is possible, since this case did not end in divorce, that Mrs. Moore retained some economic resources after her “ruin.” See Watson, “Obsession, Betrayal and Sex,” 247.
58. Watson, “Obsession, Betrayal and Sex,” 247.
59. See Barbados Deeds 1775–1778, no. 182, and Recopied Wills (RB6 / 29–30), Barbados Department of Archives, Black Rock, for examples of white women managing their property in slaves and land. In many cases, white women circumvented colonial laws that transferred their property to their husbands by leaving their property “in trust” to a third party for the duration of their marriage. These trusts were also formed by white women in order to ensure that their daughters and nieces would retain inheritance, despite their marriages.
60. Barbados Minutes of Council CO31 / 21 / D1: 65, NAL.
61. Hartman, Scenes of Subjection, 81.
62. For a discussion on the rhetoric and use of the language of seduction in similar cases in the colonial context, see Fischer, Suspect Relations.
63. Barbados Minutes of Council CO31 / 21 / D1: 65, NAL.
64. Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, vol. 1, An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage Books, 1990), 97.
65. Hartman, Scenes of Subjection, 81.
66. Burnard, “Matron in Rank,” 145.
67. See Watson, “Obsession, Betrayal and Sex,” 254, and Burnard, “Matron in Rank.”
68. Zacek, “Sex, Sexuality, and Social Control,”191.
69. Ibid., 207.
70. Burnard also ponders the implications and accusations of Mrs. Manning allegedly having sex with black male slaves.
71. See Block, Rape and Sexual Power.
72. Sharon Block and Kathleen M. Brown, “Clio in Search of Eros: Redefining Sexualities in Early America,” William and Mary Quarterly 60, no. 1 (2003): 11.