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Emancipation and Apprenticeship

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Emancipation and Apprenticeship

Pre-18th Century Attitudes to Slavery Like other people of the time, Europeans believed that the enslavement of another person was justifiable as long as a reasonable explanation could have being given for the enslavement. In Africa itself, slavery was acceptable and people were taken as slaves in three ways: as prisoners in war, as a punishment for a crime and as a payment for debt. An English philosopher, John Locke stated that slavery is only justifiable when a person was then taken captive as a prisoner of war e.g.: in crusades. The Spanish questioned whether slavery was right but they still practiced it. They argued that slavery although wrong was necessary in order to develop their empire and to convert heathens to Christians. The Bible itself was ambiguous enough for Europeans to use it as the foundation for supporting slavery e.g.: the story about the curse on Ham and his posterity and their ‘blackness’ giving them inferiority and making them slaves forever.

18th Century Attitudes to Slavery In the 18th century, there was a changing attitude towards slavery, ideas about Christian brotherhood and that Christians could not be enslaved became popular for e.g.: the Quakers believed that blacks have immortal souls just like whites and can be saved as well. In France, the anti-slavery group was more of secular than a religious group. They were humanitiarrtians who believed that all men were created equal and that all men are created equal and that the true natural state of man is to be free. They eventually forced the French parliament to pass the Declaration of the Rights of Man in August 1789, when “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” was the slogan. In England however, the anti-slavery groups were more religious and used the gospel to condemn slavery, they believed that only through good works and ridding the world of the evil of slavery could make one go to heaven. There were also industrialists such as Adam Smith who opposed slavery on economic grounds. Bishop Bossuet even found justification for slavery in the New Testament stating that the Holy Ghost through St. Paul had review to the slaves that they should accept their statues. These ideas therefore led to a profound belief that slavery was acceptable.

Arguments for and against slavery
Arguments for slavery 1) Both the Indigenous peoples and bondservants had proved to be inadequate therefore African slaves were the only reliable labor force for plantation agriculture in the Caribbean 2) The slavers provided training for sailors in the various navies. 3) A cruder form of slavery existed in Africa so that transportation to the Caribbean only brought the Africans into the benefit of white civilization. They were provided with food, clothing, shelter and medical care. The routine of estate work needed no further education as education would only insight rebellion. 4) Sugar, rum, molasses, coffee, dye-stuff (mahogany) and tobacco are some of the numerous tropical products which reached Europe from the Americas and thus there could not be prosperity without slavery. 5) Barbarity was still common in Europe and the treatment of slaves was not much different from working conditions in Europe eg: English children were forced to work in coal mines and as chimney sweepers while slave children worked in the fancy households of their master. 6) Slavery existed since biblical times and this provided enough justification for Negro slavery.

Arguments against slavery 1) Slavery was a wasteful, crude, inefficient system which had no advantage over paid labor 2) The natural state of man is to be free and all men are created in the image and likeness of God. 3) Using slave labor was unprofitable and restrictive as it prevented the introduction of new machines and technologies. 4) By enslaving Africans, Europeans who were “Christians” were sinning in the eyes of God. 5) All slaves are not animals as some were even kings and queens and educated men and women in Africa 6) Planters should have followed the maxim “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”

West India Interest This group was made up of London merchants and plantation owners who were very powerful and influential in the English Parliament. At first the WII were mainly concerned with establishing trade with North American colonist. However, in the 18th century they began focusing on resisting the Abolition Movement in Parliament. In 1766, they were only made up of 40 members in the House of Lords but by 1780 they had 50 members. In order to delay emancipation, the parliamentary members of the WII enacted 2 laws: Amelioration proposals and Apprenticeship system. These policies however failed largely due to the fact that more abolitionists were becoming MP’s; particularly in the House of Commons also public opinion was turning against the WII due to the fact that they were persecuting non-conformist missionaries. Despite their loss however to the abolitionist the WII were still able to delay emancipation for 50 years and to gain 20,000,000 in compensation for the loss of their slaves (when emancipation came)

Humanitarians Humanitarians were people who believed in improving the conditions in which people live. In the 18th century, they belonged to many professions such as being politicians, writers and industrialists. They believed that slavery was unnecessary and evil and that it violated the true natural state of man – Freedom e.g: such humanitarians were Elizabeth Fry, who created handbags depicting series of slaves being mistreated, William Cowper, a poet and Samuel Johnson, a writer and author of Gulliver’s travels. Humanitarians’ outlook on life was many, they were interested in travel books and descriptions of other people’s cultures e.g.: they tried to prove that Africans were not ignorant and savages but that they had in Africa well-organized societies with well learned citizens.

Industrialists They were manufacturers in Britain who thought that slavery was a crude inefficient form of labour. They wanted to institute wage labour and also saw the commercial benefits of producing manufactured goods with the use of machines. Many believed that wage labour would make the circulation of money increase and that this would thus increase the overall economy in the colonists. Some industrialists were also humanitarians and non- conformist missionaries e.g.: Adam Smith and William Byrd II

Non-conformists Missionaries They were religious groups who did not agree with the teachings and practices of the established churches i.e. Catholics and Anglicans
They were founded between 1647 – 1667 by George Fox who told them “To quake or tremble at the word of God” they adapted this name Quakers but their official name was the Society of Friends. They were one of the first non-conformist groups who rejected slavery and any Quaker who did not free his/her slave was rejected by the Church community. In England, they were the first religious group to campaign against slavery and formed “the society for effecting the abolition of the slave trade” in 1787. One of their greatest workers was Granville Sharpe, who worked as a lawyer defending the rights of slaves.

Clapham Sect/ Saints The Clapham sect emerged from the Church of England in the 17th century and began preaching about the salvation of souls through performing good work (one such work was to end the slave trade) Their leader was the Revered John Venn who held meetings at his house where matters concerning the abolition of the slave trade were discuss. Their movement in the early days was very strong and influential as some members such as James Ramsay, James Stephen, and Zachary Macaulay went out collecting evidence which showed the brutalities of slavery. The saints however only supported the abolition of the slave trade not slavery itself.

Abolition Movement Outside of Parliament The person who led the cause in the attack against slavery outside of parliament was Granville Sharp. From 1767 to 1772, he waged a one - man battle to get a ruling on the illegality of slavery in England by the Strong case in 1765, but more specifically by the James Somerset’s case of 1772, he forced Chief Justice, Lord Mansfield to rule that slavery was illegal in England. He defended the slave against his master who wanted to return him to plantation work. Due to Lord Mansfield judgment, the slave, James Somerset was freed. .This judgment then paved the way for the Abolitionist movement in Parliament.

Abolition Movement inside of Parliament The Abolitionist strongest hold in parliament was in the House of Commons. The men who were the forerunners were William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson. Thomas Clarkson was known as “ eyes and ears” of Wilberforce as he went to slave ports and collected evidence which depicted the brutalities of slave conditions on slavers and supplied this evidence to William Wilberforce who presented it in parliament. Clarkson also issued pamphlets and wrote essays which he gave out to people so as to win the public’s support in the movement against slavery. In the meantime, his friend William Wilberforce became the greatest orator in Parliament who opposes the slave trade. Wilberforce not only used the evidence given to him by Clarkson but he made his perennial speech against the slave trade. Furthermore, he befriended and won the support of influential men such as James Stephen, Zachary Macaulay and Henry Brougham and Charles James Fox who became Prime Minister in 1806. With these men’s support, Wilberforce was able to convince the British parliament to pass the abolition of the slave trade in 1807.

Reasons for Failure of Abolition Despite the passing of the abolition of the slave trade bill, planters and captains of ships still found ways of illegally trading in slaves. 1) Some new that they only had to pay a small fine of 100 for being caught illegally trading in slaves. 2) Ships in the Atlantic had vast areas to cover and many times the slavers out sailed Government patrol ships 3) Masters used loopholes in the laws such as the right to carry two domestic slaves from one island to another in order to trade illegally in slaves. 4) Some masters hired captains who used Flags of other nations that did not signed the reciprocal search treaty e.g. The United States thus prevented the authorities from searching their ships.

Amelioration Proposals This is the policy of making slave conditions better. The abolitionist supported this policy both as an end in itself and as a half-way step to complete emancipation. They wanted the slaves to be treated better to have less severe punishments and to be allowed human rights such as marriage and Christianity. They felt that if the planters would accept Amelioration first it would be easier to bring in emancipation later. The WII meanwhile agreed to pass amelioration proposals only as a means to delay emancipation. Furthermore, the planters themselves in the Caribbean opposed amelioration as they thought that they knew best how to treat their slaves. They even compared their slave conditions favorably with the conditions of seamen and urban poor in Australia. The British Government then passed the following Amelioration proposals in 1823. 1) the abolition of the whip 2) abolition of the Sunday market 3) abolition of the flogging of females 4) Freedom of female children born after 1823 5) Admission of slave evidence in court (vouch of a minister) 6) A day elapsing between crime and punishment 7) Establishment of slaves saving bank 8) Nine hours work per day 9) Marriages were not to be broken 10) The appointment of a protector of slaves who was to keep a recorder of the punishments inflicted on slaves.

Failure of Amelioration In 1826 the failure of amelioration was obvious. The attitude of the planters to their slaves had hardened. They were treated worse than ever and were treated worse than ever and were being made to pay for coming emancipation. The slaves themselves were revolting against their conditions (1823 Demerara Revolt) and the missionaries were being persecuted. All these factors convinced people in Britain that amelioration had fail and that only complete emancipation solves the problems. By 1826 therefore, amelioration was deemed a failure.

Non-Conformist Missionaries In England, the religious denomination known as the “Society of Friends” or Quakers was the first to speak out against the slave trade and slavery. However the greatest effort for the conversion of the slaves were made by the Moravians or united brethren, the Methodists and the Baptists, these groups were called non-conformist because they did not conform to or accept all the beliefs and style of service of the Anglican Church. The missionaries were the first to set up missions in the Caribbean. In 1754, the Moravians worked in Jamaica and 1756 they worked in St. Kitts and the Virgin Islands. By 1800 they were able to convert 10,000 slaves in the Caribbean, the Methodists and Baptists soon followed. The Methodists set up their missions in Jamaica and Antigua while the Baptist led by George Lisle and Moses Barker largely set up their missions in Jamaica where a brick chapel was built.

Persecution of Missionaries

1) The slaves lived in a closed community and could not mix or talk freely 2) The slaves had their own custom and beliefs which they would not give up easily E.g.: obeah, voodoo etc. 3) Most slaves could not or would not speak English especially if they were filed slaves 4) The missionaries were poor, ill-equipped and the numbers of missionaries were very few. Many of them died from the hard work, climate and disease 5) Missionaries were often not trusted by the slaves because of their color ( being white) and because they preached moderation (non-violence) and many of the slaves thought that they were conspiring with the planters 6) The attitude of the ruling class was one of the biggest difficulties the missionaries had to face, they passed laws to cut down the activities of the missionaries such as not giving them a license to preach until after a year’s residence on the island and ministers could be imprison for keeping congregation after sunset. Furthermore the colonial church union was even created to beat up missionaries and to burn down their chapels. 7) The missionaries had to deal with slaves not coming to Sunday service because of Sunday market.
Reasons for Apprenticeship/ Emancipation Act The sugar plantation could not survive without manual labor therefore some system had to be devised so as to keep the ex-slaves working on the estate while still recognizing their freedom. Hence the emancipation act of 1833 granted full freedom to all children below the age of 6 but it required that all workers 6 years and older continue to serve a period of apprenticeship. It was generally felt that they should be gradual change from slavery to freedom. It therefore expected that Apprenticeship would be a transition period during which ex-slaves were trained to cope with the responsibilities of full freedom. Also in practice – apprenticeship was used to soften the blow of emancipation by giving planters a few more years of free labor, while conceding to the slaves their right to freedom. The earlier proposals of an apprenticeship period of twelve years show clearly that it was designed to appease the planters and ‘trick’ the slaves into thinking that they were free.

The Apprenticeship System The planters and colonial officials in London agreed to insert a stage between slavery and full freedom, it would be known as the Apprenticeship system and it was not to come to an end until 1840. It would provide a means of enticing and if necessary compelling the ex-slaves to work for wages long enough for them to get use to doing so. The colonial assemblies were to make their own apprenticeship schemes however only (Antigua and Bermuda) decided to bypass the apprenticeship system and to automatically free their slaves in 1834.

Clauses of the Apprenticeship System 1) Slave children under 6 were automatically freed 2) Plantation slaves were to be set free on August 1, 1840 while the domestic and artisans slaves were to be freed on August 1, 1838. 3) Slaves were required to work for their former masters for 45 hours per week without wages; any overtime was to be paid for. 4) In return for their labor, Apprentices were to be given food, clothing, lodging, medical care and cultivated plots. 5) Each colonial government was to employ a number of special or stipendiary magistrates to oversee the working of the Apprenticeship system and to prevent injustice.

Stipendiary Special Magistrates Under the emancipation of 1833, the British government was responsible for establishing a group of special magistrates who were granted absolute power for supervising the apprenticeship impartial and bias manner ensuring that they received their full rights. These magistrates were first paid a stipend of £300 but it was later increased to £450 per annum. Out of this money the stipendiary magistrates had to pay for their own accommodation and transportation (horses). They were appointed in England from among retired army or navy officers, civil servants or freed coloreds. Stipendiary Magistrates could be called to any estate by its owner, manger or labor (apprentice) at any time. They had to travel by horse back to scattered estates where they settled disputes regarding wages for overtime, chopping cases and insolence by neighbors/ apprentice to the plantation owners.

Failure of Apprenticeship System By 1838, Apprenticeship was considered a failure. There are three reasons for this failure: 1) They felt that slavery was uneconomical and that they would benefit far more free labor than from using the apprentices. 2) The domestic apprentices were freed in 1838 and the planters felt that it would be impractical to retain one set of apprentices and free the other, since they were both needed for the effective operation of the estate. Those who were retained could create trouble for the planters for failing to give them their freedom. 3) It was obvious by 1838 that the Apprenticeship System was not working. The Imperial government was aware that the scheme was not succeeding as the transition period of training it was intended to be. 4) The apprentices who were anticipating their complete freedoms were becoming restive thus they began to exert pressure on the authorities to act on their behalf. 5) The anti-slavery society was restarting its campaign as the humanitarians were convinced that the ex-slaves had not yet tasted the sweets of freedom and that it time that they should. The result that the decision was taken to bring the Apprenticeship system to an end on August 1, 1838.

French Emancipation Movement At the congress of Vienna in 1815, the French promised to abolish the slave trade but did not formally pass the abolition of the slave trade in the French Assembly until 1818. The French later proposed the registry Bill in 1833 which made the registration of slaves compulsory and the branding and mutilation of slaves prohibited. Five years later in 1838, the French. This also ameliorated their slave laws. This was pushed for by the secular and humanitarian society in France called La societe pour l’ abolition de l’ esclavage. This society was lead by Victor Schoelcher. Around 1814 Schoelcher decided to abandon Amelioration and press for immediate emancipation with no Apprenticeship system. A national petition of 1847 seem to be effective as the French Assembly passed the emancipation bill in 1848 and slaves were set free in the French colonies. French planters were compensated as well with £126,000,000.

Spanish Emancipation Movement Before 1750, the Spanish colonies had experienced a sugar boom which lasted into the 19th century. Therefore, the Spanish began importing more slaves in the 19th century than they did before they were largely only concerned with the increase in the black to white ratio and not with the humanitarian aspect of slave trade. In spite of promises made at the Congress of Vienna and the abolition of the slave trade in 1820. The Spanish continued to import slaves sometimes under the use of U.S flags. However in 1865, the Spanish abolished the slave trade effectively because 1) Praedial whites in Cuba feared the sudden rise in the slave population. 2) There was pressure on the Spanish government to abolish the slave trade 3) Foreign pressure especially from Britain was having an effect. 4) The abolition of slavery in the U.S.A made it impossible for Spanish traders to hide under the American flag
After 1865, the liberals in Cuba wanted independence and emancipation. In 1818, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, the revolutionary leader freed slaves on his estate then began the ten years war for independence. In 1818, the treaty of Zanjon brought this war to an end. In 1880 Spain established an emancipation scheme which brought in workers from Spain to replace slaves. This scheme ended in 1886 when emancipation was fully declared.

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