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was a process by which slave labor
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...
gangs planted sugar cane on plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...
Field slaves were generally divided into three gangs based on their ability to work. The lead gang was responsible for digging cane holes; the second gang would plant the cane cuttings, and the third gang—typically composed of the least able-bodied workers and the very young—would be required to weed the fields, catch rats, and serve as gofer
A gofer or go-fer is an employee who is often sent on errands. "Gofer" reflects the likelihood of instructions to go for coffee, dry cleaning, or stamps, or to make other straightforward or familiar procurements. The term gofer originated in North America...
The process began with white field supervisors marking off the cane field in a checkerboard of 4 foot squares. Within each square the lead gang would dig a hole approximately 6 to 9 in (15.2 to 22.9 ) deep and 2 to 3 ft (0.6096 to 0.9144 ) long. This back-breaking labor was often complicated by wet weather or parched soil, and a network of cut canes and roots from the previous year's planting.
The secondary gang would set cuttings of the previous year's cane in the holes and cover them with a mixture of manure and soil. The manure mixture was carried by hand in baskets to avoid damage to the plantings. The cuttings would be arranged in rows to allow the prevailing winds to disperse moisture in and around the cane, reducing the chances of fungal diseases, which ruined many crops each year (see List of sugarcane diseases
Cane holing was such brutal work that many plantation owners contracted with jobbing gangs to plant the crop, to protect their capital investment in their own enslaved workforce.