Mentioned: The Diary of Thomas Thistlewood: Whites like Thistlewood lived in an Africanized society that rested on white fear, white equality, and white brutality. With almost no restraints placed on their personal freedom, whites ruled their slaves with a degree of violence that left outside observers aghast. Thistlewood routinely punished his slaves with fierce floggings and other harsh punishments, some of them sickeningly ingenious. One of his favorites was “Derby’s dose,” in which a slave was forced to defecate into the offending slave’s mouth, which was then wired shut for four or five hours.
Thistlewood was not an uneducated man. He was a prolific book buyer and reader; he practiced medicine on his slaves and was something of an expert in botany and horticulture—in other words, he was quite civilized by Jamaican standards. Although Trevor Burnard at one point calls Thistlewood “a brutal sociopath,” he generally suggests that Thistlewood’s treatment of his slaves was not that unusual. Unlike Landon Carter and other rich eighteenth-century Virginia planters, who often developed a paternalistic attitude toward their slaves, most Jamaican whites were convinced that only the severe application of brute force could keep the numerous African slaves under control.