The House that Slavery Built:
Social and Material Transformation in the
18th Century British Atlantic World
In 1670, colonists from Barbados formed the nucleus of a settlement in the new colony of Carolina. The expansion of sugar production in Barbados had pushed many to seek new opportunities. In doing so, those planters created the first North American colony in the British Empire that was founded with slavery as the basis for its labor force. Over the course of the 18th century, the complex negotiations between enslaved people and those who enslaved them profoundly shaped Barbados and South Carolina, determining the course of each colony as tensions within the British Empire brought the possibility of revolution closer. When the Revolution finally came, each colony made a different choice and set a new course: one as part of a new nation that was increasingly conflicted about the institution of slavery and the other as part of the British Empire. Both were profoundly changed.
This comparative study examines the way this transformation shaped and was shaped by material culture and the built environment to gain a deeper understanding of the lived experience of the British Atlantic World in the 18th century.