Bondsmen: Slave Collateral in the 19th-Century Cape Colony

Bondsmen: Slave Collateral in the 19th-Century Cape Colony

Author: 
Ekama, Kate
Place: 
Oxon
Publisher: 
Taylor & Francis Group
Date published: 
2021
Record type: 
Journal Title: 
Journal of Southern African Studies
Source: 
Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 47, No. 3, 2021, pp. 437-453
Abstract: 

During the 18th and 19th centuries, enslaved people in the Cape Colony were used as collateral on loans. In the near absence of formal lending institutions, private credit agreements predominated among slave-owners, as researchers have established in earlier studies. Based on a sample of 19th-century mortgage records, I use network analysis in this article to visualise the flow of credit among slave-owner debtors and creditors, showing the position of banks in a network dominated by private creditors and highlighting the role of widows in the male world of credit. The context of emancipation brought insecurity and upheaval to the colony and appears to have slowed the pace and diminished the size of loans offered on slave collateral. Yet emancipation on 1 December 1834 was not the end of the practice, as might be expected. Rather, it continued in two ways: first, mortgages on slave collateral agreed before emancipation continued with unchanged terms into the period of apprenticeship; secondly, new mortgages were agreed after emancipation on the basis of apprenticed labour and future compensation payments. The way in which compensation - in cash and years of labour - was organised secured former slave-owners' access to credit in the transition from slavery to wage labour.

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CITATION: Ekama, Kate. Bondsmen: Slave Collateral in the 19th-Century Cape Colony . Oxon : Taylor & Francis Group , 2021. Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 47, No. 3, 2021, pp. 437-453 - Available at: http://library.au.int/bondsmen-slave-collateral-19th-century-cape-colony-0