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British Slave Emancipation$
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Green William A.

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198202783

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198202783.001.0001

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Free Society: Progress and Pitfalls

Free Society: Progress and Pitfalls

(p.294) (p.295) Chapter 10 Free Society: Progress and Pitfalls
British Slave Emancipation

William A. Green

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the different effects of the Emancipation period and the rise of free society in the British colonies of the West Indies. Emancipation modified the class structure in the West Indies; however, the same yardstick that determined the social hierarchy remained the same. Race remained the main fundamental factor of the status quo and the desired form of society. The assertion of the freedmen for economic advancement and territorial independence created a constrained relationship between the Europeans and the Afro-Creoles. In some parts of the colonies, freedmen were continually exploited by the planters without endeavouring the uplift the social and economic status of these freed labourers, while in other colonies the freed blacks were supplanted on the estates by East Indians. In several of the colonies, morality was at its lowest point and petty crimes were rapidly increasing. Although Emancipation freed the blacks from bondage, it could not liberate them from the difficulties of the West Indian life. Directly or indirectly, the colonies were heavily dependent on sugar and the profits generated by it. Both the freedmen who eluded the chains of plantation labour and the freedmen who embraced the sugar production were the targets of the depression in sugar prices. For them, a vague path awaited them, where signs of prosperity and progress were elusive.

Keywords:   emancipation period, free society, British colonies, West Indies, social hierarchy, Race, freed labourers, blacks

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