Enterprising Women and War Profiteers: Race, Gender and Power in the Revolutionary Caribbean

  • Kit Candlin
  • Cassandra Pybus
Part of the War, Culture and Society, 1750–1850 book series (WCS)


War profiteers have long been a theme in conflict studies. Profiteering was as much a feature of the wars that tore through the Caribbean at the end of the eighteenth century as it was for later wars in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The age of democratic revolutions in the Atlantic World, beginning roughly with the end of the Seven Years War in 1763 and continuing through the American, French, and South American revolutions, brought upheaval to the Caribbean that lasted decades. In this turbulent world of slave rebellion and imperial contest a new group of people emerged to complicate further the social demography of the region. This chapter focuses on free women of colour, who perhaps more than any other social group were able to navigate the revolutionary turmoil in the Caribbean, self-fashion their own lives and profit from division and conflict. These were women who were descended from slaves and yet they themselves became slave owners with little inclination to manumit any of their chattels unless they happened to be family. By the time these conflicts came to an end, their mark on networks of power would be an indelible, often denigrated, part of afro-Caribbean identity. Their presence is an important legacy in the history of war, demonstrating that conflict and insecurity could create important entrepreneurial opportunity to be seized upon by marginalized or displaced civilians.


Enterprising Woman American Revolution Free People Free Coloured Democratic Revolution 
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© Kit Candlin and Cassandra Pybus 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kit Candlin
  • Cassandra Pybus

There are no affiliations available

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