Living Conditions of Enslaved People in Plantations of Broward County, FL

As the nation continues to grapple with the legacy of slavery and the antebellum South, many are questioning the appropriateness of a city's name that evokes such memories. Florida was home to slave plantations as early as the 16th century, and much of South Florida was colonized by the Seminole tribe, which was largely displaced by swamp drainage efforts in the early 20th century. Contrary to popular belief, slaves were not content with their conditions and actively resisted their masters. The life of slaves varied greatly depending on many factors, such as the size of the plantation and the attitude of the supervisor.

On large plantations, slaves worked from dawn to dusk six days a week and were often fed food that was not fit for an animal. They lived in small huts with dirt floors and little or no furniture. In some cases, cruel foremen were employed to get the most out of the slaves, leading to desperate measures such as feigning illness, sabotage, fleeing, or even expelling the foreman from the plantation. Slaves who worked in the plantation house enjoyed much better conditions than those in the fields.

They lived in better rooms and received better food, and sometimes they could travel with their owner's family. This led to a class system developing within the slave community. Slave codes were passed in many states to describe slave rights and acceptable treatment and standards with respect to slaves. Slaves could be awarded in raffles, bet on games of chance, offered as collateral for loans, and transferred as a gift from one person to another.

Any slave found guilty of arson, rape of a white woman, or conspiracy to rebel was sentenced to death; however, since the slave was real estate, the white man who raped her was only guilty of entering the master's property without authorization. When western city of Broward was created in 1953 it was touted as an idyllic haven from the hustle and bustle of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. By the 1850s, Central Florida's ranchers had acquired a great deal of political and economic power through their ownership of enslaved Africans. The first advertisements for houses in Plantation focused on getting away from people of color found in places like Fort Lauderdale and Miami; when established it established itself as a segregated community.

Plantation Mayor Lynn Stoner didn't respond to requests for comment this week but Auguste said he feels he has an ally in Councilmember Denise Horland. In addition to this, there was also a common practice in decades before Civil War which consisted of renting slaves to work outside owner's farm or plantation.

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