Essays in this section:
emancipation, labor opportunities and experiences changed for the better.
Before emancipation a slave was lucky if he lived nine years after being
captured. Some died from diseases, but many of them died from simple
Emancipation Proclamation was read on
Apprenticeship created several problems for the plantation owners. Slave owners were used to working their slaves long hours. But the days when owners could force slaves to work eighteen-hour days were now no more. Apprentices could now only work forty hours a week if they wished. Another problem was that many slaves used to have to work the night shift. Emancipation put an end to that rule. Blacks could now work four to five days a week and with the days they had off, they could attend to their own gardens. Of course, all too often the owners chose to ignore the new laws. The planters made no effort to change conditions on the plantations. Getting new equipment and creating better working conditions were out of the question. The plantation owners were expected to supply medicine for the sick. That was not done. They were also expected to supply better clothing and better food. Owners chose to ignore those things as well. After emancipation the owners were given compensation for their losses in human “property,” while ex-slaves received nothing.
Good news came in 1837 when the apprenticeship was abolished. The planters abused the system so much that it was terminated only after three years. More bad news came for the plantation owners. The compensation that they received would not save most of them. Sugar prices continued to decline, even as production went down because of the lack of workers. Instead of examining the situation and admitting what was really wrong the planters decided to blame their problems on the ex-slaves. The most often heard excuse was that blacks were lazy and did not want to work anymore. The truth was that the ex-slaves were finding new ways to make a living. They were tired of the working conditions on the old plantations. They were sick of being treated with cruelty. To many of them it was time to move on. But some actually did stay on the plantations and tried to make the best of it.
1860 half of the plantations in
Former slaves found new ways to make a living. Many of them became peasants and formed villages and communities of their own. They began to grow their own crops and sold them at the nearest markets. They grew ginger, bananas, and sugar cane among many other crops. Of course the plantation owners hated the fact that villages were springing up. These new villages took away labor from them. The owners even found ways to get heavy taxes placed on some of the most liked imported foods of the black man. And as for American and British goods “the demand for linens, cottons, prints, beaver hats, shoes, stockings, bonnets, and saddlery multiplied beyond belief.” But the heavy taxes placed on foreign goods did not make the ex-slaves want to go back to the plantations. 
At first there were no schools or churches in the villages but that would eventually change. After emancipation “independent Negroes made the most of their income from growing provision crops for sale in local markets.”  But other opportunities began popping up as more and more villages were being built. The villagers were not just building houses for themselves. They were building for others too. And these new structures were not little huts either. Some had several rooms so that everybody in the household could have their own room. As for dirt floors, that became a thing of the past for many households. Some had wooden floors made from the native trees on the island. With their houses built, black Jamaicans soon turned their attention to extending their villages by helping missionaries construct churches and schools. This would be the beginning of something special. Education was just around the corner for many.
Education played an enormous role in the upward movement of many free citizens. Many young men and women attended the schools that sprang up around the island. Some went on to become teachers and educate the next generation. Others became ministers and preached in the local churches. This was a step up from the labor their parents performed. Some were able to obtain jobs tending to business matters on the island. But not everybody the island was able to attend schools and obtain jobs such as teaching, and not everybody left the world of hard manual labor. Job opportunities off the island became enticing. Many still had to work jobs where physical strength was needed.
Ex-slaves and their children made many strides after emancipation. Life was not easy for most of them but with ambition and pride came success for many. Going from plantation work to becoming teachers and ministers was not an easy or short journey. Freedom was something for which they had been longing, and when it came they made the most of it. All they needed was a chance and emancipation gave them that chance. Many found that life could be something beautiful.
Craton, Michael and Walvin, James. A Jamaican
Nugent, Maria, Lady. A Journal Of A Voyage To, And Residence
In, The Island Of Jamaica,
From 1801 To 1805, And The Subsequent Events In England from 1805 To
1811, By Maria, Lady Nugent.
Papers Relative To The
Phillippo, James Mursell.
Sherlock, Philip and Bennett, Hazel.
The Story Of The Jamaican People.
 Maria Nugent, A Journal Of A Voyage To, And Residence In, The Island Of Jamaica, From 1801 To 1805, And The Subsequent Events In England from 1805 To 1811, By Maria, Lady Nugent, (London, 1839,) 151.
 James M. Phillippo,
 Philip Sherlock and Hazel Bennett, The Story Of The Jamaican People, (Kingston and Princeton, 1998,) 230.
 Sherlock and Bennett, 233.
Parliament, Papers Relative To The
 Michael Craton
and James Walvin, A
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