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Thomas Thistlewood, a slave-holding planter of boundless cruelty in Jamaica – 2024-04-03 23:21:53

In the 18th century, Jamaica was the largest and most valuable British colony, based on a slave system of incredible brutality. Thomas Thistlewood, an English planter of the time, kept a detailed diary chronicling the atrocities he committed against the slaves under his rule.

Throughout the 10,000 pages of his diary, Thistlewood recorded with chilling cynicism that he raped 1,584 slaves. He considered these women his property, simple animals over whom he had all the rights. Those who resisted him suffered punishments of unspeakable cruelty: whipped until they bled, their wounds were rubbed with salt, lemon juice and chili pepper. The humiliation was total, with some seeing themselves gagged with excrement in their mouths.

This system of terror aimed to physically and mentally break these slaves, while mercilessly exploiting them on sugar cane plantations. Thistlewood’s diary highlights the horror of the daily lives of thousands of slaves, subjected to the worst abuses and deprived of all humanity by their executioners.

Such testimony is rare in its breadth and chilling precision. If it reveals the darkness of Thistlewood’s soul, it above all sheds light on one of the darkest chapters in the history of slavery. These slaves endured the unimaginable and it is our duty to preserve and honor their memory, so that such atrocities are never forgotten or repeated.

By François Mbida for

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