Jamaican Slavery: Abolition (1834)

Figure 1.--This engraving was captioned "An Interior View of a Jamaica House of Correction". It shows a scene from the Apprenticeship Period (1834-38), jist after the Great Slave Revolt. A man at the left is being flogged. A oman at center bottom is hsving her hair cut off. Below the caption is a message from Jamaica's Governor Lionel Smith to the Jamaican House of Assembly, "The WHIPPING OF FEMALES, you were informed by me, officially, WAS IN PRACTICE; and I called upon you to make enactments to put an end to conduct so repugnant to humanity, and SO CONTRARY TO LAW. So far from passing an Act to prevent the recurrence of such cruelty, you have in no way expressed your disapprobation of it. I communicated to you my opinion, and that of the Secretary of State, of the injustice of cutting off the hair of females in the House of Correction, previous to trial. You have pad no attention to the subject." This engraving here is a copy from the National Library of Jamaica. The engraving was first published by British abolitionists (1837). We are not sire who the illustrator and rngraver was. It was destribured both sepsaraely and as part of bound collections of illustrations. The bound edition was produced by James Williams, "A Narrative of Events" (London and Glasgow, 1837). There were other editions which included this engraving and described conditions om Jamaica.

While the Jamaican Great Slave Revolt failed, it had a profound impact on Britain's abolition movement. The great loss of property and life promted two Parliament inquiries. Military testimony indicated that a future slave revolt may well suceed. Henry Bleby said of the revolt, “The spirit of freedom had been so widely diffused … if the abolition of slavery were not speedily effected by the peaceable method of legislative enactment, the slaves would assuredly take the matter into their own hands, and bring their bondage to a violent and bloody termination.” It was clear that a substantial and costly military force would have to be maintained on the Island to preserve slavery. The difficuly of maintaining slavery on the island combined with Wilberforce's Christian-based crusade eventually led to Parliament's decesion to abolish slavery throughout the Empire (1834). This did not meam immediate abolitin. Jamaican slaves remained bound to their former owners' service for a few more years, although they were granted some basic rights. This was called the Apprenticeship System which continued until 1838. Limited employment opportunities and lack of education and land meant that the freed slaves continued to be dependant on the plantation owners.


Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main Jamaican history page]
[Return to the Main Ending the Atlantic Slave Trade Page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Cloth and textiles] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Topics]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Created: 9:43 PM 4/11/2010
Last updated: 9:18 PM 4/11/2010