Essays in this section:
From the perspective of the
The 1800’s saw the gradual evolution of emancipation sweep
across the islands of the
Still, the British government tried to tailor its approach
to emancipation based on what it believed its island planters needed.
Islands saw varying degrees of speed and success in the process of
the initiation emancipation. For
The first step that affected the lives of plantation owners
was the abolition of the slave trade.
Although the illegal slave trade persisted, slave owners were
forced to ameliorate treatment of their slaves because the never-ending
supply began to dwindle. Thus plantation owners had to reduce punishments
and improve food and other aspects of slaves’ conditions.
Later, as talk of emancipation began to gather strength, there
was another push for slave owners to treat their slaves better. English planters did not want to be made a public
spectacle back in
Before emancipation slave owners feared that less severe
punishments would lead workers to greater disobedience. They feared
that eventually it would lead to uprisings. Yet after emancipation,
many no longer feared insurrection.
British traveler James Thome quoted
a planter as saying, “it was feared before abolition, but now no one
thought of it.”
Planters believed that revolts were no longer an
issue because the former slaves were now more free and well treated,
Revolts did, however, still occur.
Planters had opposed emancipation, in part, because they
believed that it would destroy their profit margin. They used economics to defend the need for slavery.
They believed that they would be unable to afford to pay ex-slaves
for work that they had previously done free.
The change would severely hurt planters’ income.
After the initiation of freedom many changed their mind and
determined that emancipation may even be better than slavery.
Others could not accept that slavery was over.
They either refused to employ ex-slaves, except at the most
menial wages, and under the most slave-like conditions, or they petitioned
the British government for new imports of indentured workers from
Apprenticeship was created as a middle ground between slavery and complete emancipation. The idea was to improve working conditions for ex-slaves, grant them wages, and some degree of choice of work. Under apprenticeship planters were required to pay wages to their slaves. Planters received some compensation but it was poorly distributed and quickly squandered. Wages were not high, and planters frequently balked at actually paying them. In practice apprenticeship was often little more than light slavery. Yet again, after the beginning of apprenticeship, some planters changed their minds and became supporters of the new system. One planter interviewed by James Thome went as far to say “we (planters) are now rejoiced that slavery is abolished.” Some believed that, “wages are found to be an ample substitute for the lash.” 
Magistrates were appointed in order to defend former slaves’ rights. They were designed to regulate planters’ treatment of their apprentice workers. It’s questionable how effective these magistrates really were:
Planters still managed to get around magistrates’ rulings. One way was described by Special Magistrate J.B. Colhurst:
“To charm and flatter a man on his arrival, and laud him to the skies, is a common practice, but the moment they find him not purely their own, they lose no opportunity of annoying him in every possible way.” 
planters and masters continued mistreating slaves regardless of magistrates’
rulings. Magistrates sometimes corrupt or really did not care for
the well being of apprentices. James A. Thome
wrote that Colhurst, who claimed to be fairer than many, “showed a great and inexcusable partiality for
Free people still faced biased treatment, and planters
still found means of punishing them for disobedience. Flogging which
had been common practice by planters was now only to be used for extreme
disobedience. Some of the planters in
was still considered by many to be ineffective or unnecessary. Critics said that planters did not do anything
to prepare apprentices for their eventual freedom. Some planters remained upset that there was
no longer slavery. Another problem they had with apprenticeship was
that they were required to minimize hours that former slaves could
work. Former slaves could work no more than forty hours a week, and
only from dusk till dawn. One such policy was adopted in
was received with mixed results among planters. Many plantation owners
still managed to work their way around the limitations of apprenticeship. Some of the benefits of apprenticeship weren’t
followed. It was essentially glorified slavery. Other planters became proponents of emancipation
and were able to adapt, though they often had to cut back the number
of slaves they had and the amount of land they cultivated.
Quotes from Mrs. A.C. Carmichael, Domestic Manners
and Social Condition of the White, Coloured,
and Negro Population of the
James Thome, Emancipation in the
 Thome, 161, 198.
Apprenticeship and Emancipation.
 John B. Colthurst, The Colthurst Journal: Journal of a Special Magistrate in the Islands of Antigua and St. Vincent, July 1835-September 1838, ed. Woodville K. Marshall, (Millwood, N.Y., 1977), 68.
 Thome, 276.
 Thome, quotes from 198 and 265.
 Colthurst, 71.
 Apprenticeship and Emancipation, 6