Plantation Agreement at Providence

Plantation Agreement at Providence: A Historical Insight into Slavery in America

The plantation system was the foundation of the American economy during the colonial period and early years of the nation. However, a lesser-known aspect of this system is the agreement that governed the relationships between plantation owners and slaves. The Plantation Agreement at Providence is one such document that sheds light on the conditions of slavery in America in the 18th century.

What is the Plantation Agreement at Providence?

The Plantation Agreement at Providence, also known as the Providence Plantation Compact, is a legal agreement that was signed in 1637 by a group of English settlers in present-day Rhode Island. The aim of this agreement was to establish a plantation on the Narragansett Bay that would be governed by fair and just principles.

The agreement outlined the responsibilities of the plantation owners towards their indentured servants and slaves, including provisions for their care, feeding, and clothing. It also established an early form of democratic governance, with the plantation owners agreeing to meet regularly to discuss and make decisions on matters affecting the community.

The agreement is significant because it offers a glimpse into the attitudes and practices of plantation owners towards their slaves and indentured servants. While the document espoused the ideals of justice and fair treatment, it also acknowledged the existence of slavery as an integral part of the plantation system.

What does the agreement reveal about slavery in America?

The Plantation Agreement at Providence reveals several aspects of slavery in America that are often overlooked in popular narratives. Firstly, it highlights the fact that slavery was not limited to the southern United States but was prevalent in all colonies.

Secondly, it reveals the complex nature of the relationships between plantation owners and slaves. While the agreement aimed to ensure fair treatment, it also established a hierarchy where the plantation owners held significant power over their slaves.

The agreement also reveals the extent to which slavery was intertwined with the economy and politics of the time. It was not just a moral issue but a practical one as well, with the plantation owners acknowledging the economic benefits of slavery and its impact on their livelihoods.


The Plantation Agreement at Providence provides a valuable insight into the realities of slavery in America during the colonial period. It highlights the complexities and contradictions of the plantation system and the attitudes of plantation owners towards their slaves. While the document is a reminder of a dark period in American history, it also serves as a reminder of the importance of acknowledging and understanding our past to create a more just and equitable future.

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