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By Deborah H. Deford

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Slaves had to clear acres of mudflats (coastal wetlands). Next, they dug miles of ditches using picks and shovels. The ditches would become canals both for bringing in tidal water and for draining the fields. The slaves would then build levees (walls of dirt) to surround the fields. The work of growing rice began Colonial Expansion in North America · 53 in April and continued into late autumn. It involved planthen cultivating rice, slaves labored in weting, alternately flooding and lands, which bred alligators and draining the fields, weeding, poisonous snakes that would harvesting, and threshing become trapped by the levees.

As the numbers of slaves in the North American colonies increased, each colony passed its own slavery laws. The laws made slavery legal and stated that because slaves were 44 · Life under Slavery property, not citizens, they could not own property or make legal contracts, including marriage contracts. They could not testify against white people in court or receive a trial with a jury. They could not carry weapons, leave a plantation without a pass, or defend themselves against white people. As in every society with slaves, slave codes did not stop slaves from fighting against slavery.

One slave from the early 1800s would later tell how the Africans were readied for an auction: In the first place we were required to wash thoroughly, and those with beards, to shave. We were then furnished with a new suit each, cheap, but clean. . We were now conducted into a large room . . The men were arranged on one side of the room, the women on the other. . Freeman [the trader] . . exhorted us to appear smart and lively, sometimes threatening, and again, holding out various inducements.

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