Joseph Rachell and Rachael Pringle-Polgreen: Petty Entrepreneurs

1981 (Jerome S. Handler) “Joseph Rachell and Rachael Pringle-Polgreen: Petty Entrepreneurs.” In G.Nash and D. Sweet, eds., Struggle and Survival in Colonial America (University of California Press), pp. 376-91.

In addition to its large enslaved population, Barbados contained a minority population of European descent or birth, which included an even smaller plantocratic group that controlled the island’s means of production, internal legislative apparatus, and other society-wide institutions. Gradually, over the years, a third group emerged comprised of persons whose racial ancestry was mixed or solely African but who were legally free.  Two of these economically successful freedmen, a black man and a “colored” woman, are the subjects of this essay. Both were born in slavery and their combined lives spanned the eighteenth century. Although neither was a typical freedman, their very atypicality testifies to remarkable personal characteristics and also reflects various dimensions of the socioeconomic environment in which they lived.

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