Adjustments to Emancipation

  • J. R. Ward
Part of the Studies in Economic and Social History book series (SESH)


Slavery was ended throughout the Caribbean during the nineteenth century, at different times in the different territories.4 In Haiti and the Dominican Republic the change was achieved by local action; otherwise it was managed more or less by the colonial power, usually with some compensation to former slave owners by the use of monetary payments and periods of regulated labour, such as ‘apprenticeship’ in the British West Indies (1834–8), or the patronato in Cuba (1880–6) [58: 129–61; 69]. As the main function of slavery had been to support sugar planting, the most convenient measure of the results of emancipation is the subsequent history of sugar production, and from the information on this point summarised in Table III it will be seen that there were considerable local variations. In Haiti sugar planting was soon virtually eliminated; elsewhere there was a more gradual but persistent decline, or a recovery (sometimes only temporary) after early post-emancipation difficulties, while in a few cases output grew without serious interruption.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Select Bibliography

(i) General

  1. [48]
    S.L. Engerman, ‘Contract Labor, Sugar, and Technology in the Nineteenth Century’, Journal of Economic History, XLIII (1983).Google Scholar
  2. [49]
    W. Kloosterboer, Involuntary Labour Since the Abolition of Slavery (Leiden, 1960). For international comparisons.Google Scholar

(ii) British West Indies

  1. [50]
    A. H. Adamson, Sugar Without Slaves: The Political Economy of British Guiana, 1838–1904 (New Haven, 1972).Google Scholar
  2. [51]
    B. Blouet, ‘The Post-Emancipation Origins of the Relationships Between the Estates and the Peasantry in Trinidad’, in K. Duncan and I. Rutledge (eds), Land and Labour in Latin America (Cambridge, 1977).Google Scholar
  3. [52]
    O. N. Bolland, ‘Systems of Domination after Slavery: The Control of Land and Labor in the British West Indies after 1838’, Comparative Studies in Society and Histor,y, XXIII (1981). Mainly about British Honduras.Google Scholar
  4. [53]
    B. Brereton, Race Relations in Colonial Trinidad1870–1900 (Cambridge, 1979).Google Scholar
  5. [54]
    W. L. Burn, Emancipation and Apprenticeship in the British West Indies (1937). Concentrates on Jamaica in the 1830s.Google Scholar
  6. [55]
    P. B. Curtin, Two Jamaicas (Cambridge, Mass., 1955). Emphasises social and political conflicts in the period 1815–65. See also [59].Google Scholar
  7. [56]
    S. L. Engerman, ‘Economic Adjustments to Emancipation in the United States and British West Indies,’ Journal of Interdisciplinary History, XIII (1982).Google Scholar
  8. [57]
    W. A. Green, ‘The Planter Class and British West Indian Sugar Production, Before and After Emancipation’, Economic History Review, 2nd Series, XXVI (1973). Argues against [37] that external factors rather than personal incapacity were the main constraints on technical innovation by sugar planters.Google Scholar
  9. [58]
    [58] — British Slave Emancipation (Oxford, 1976). The most comprehensive account of the British West Indies in the period 1820–65.Google Scholar
  10. [59]
    D. Hall, Free Jamaica 1838–1865 (New Haven, 1959). Stronger than [55] on economic developments. Takes a more optimistic view of social relations.Google Scholar
  11. [60]
    Five of the Leewards, 1834–1870 (St. Lawrence, Barbados, 1971).Google Scholar
  12. [61]
    — ‘The Flight from the Estates Reconsidered: The British West Indies, 1838–42’, Journal of Caribbean History, X–XI (1978). Argues that the ex-slaves’ departure was not an instinctive reaction against the horrors of slavery.Google Scholar
  13. [62]
    H. Johnson, ‘Immigration and the Sugar Industry in Trinidad During the Last Quarter of the 19th Century’, Journal of Caribbean History, III (1971).Google Scholar
  14. [63]
    C. Levy, Emancipation, Sugar and Federalism: Barbados and the West Indies, 1833–1876 (Gainesville, 1980).Google Scholar
  15. [64]
    M. Moohr, ‘Patterns of Change in an Export Economy: British Guiana, 1830–1914’, unpublished Ph.D. thesis (Cambridge University, 1970).Google Scholar
  16. [65]
    B. C. Richardson, ‘Freedom and Migration in the Leeward Caribbean, 1838–48’, Journal of Historical Geography, VI (1980).Google Scholar
  17. [66]
    W. E. Riviere, ‘Labour Shortage in the British West Indies After Emancipation’, Journal of Caribbean History, IV (1972).Google Scholar
  18. [67]
    W. Rodney, A History of the Guyanese Working People, 1881–1905 (1981).Google Scholar
  19. [68]
    D. Wood, Trinidad in Transition (1968). Covers the period after emancipation.Google Scholar

(iii) French West Indies

  1. [69]
    J. Fallope-Lara, ‘La Guadeloupe entre 1848 et 1900’, unpublished these du 3me cycle, University of Paris IV, Sorbonne (Paris, 1972).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Economic History Society 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. R. Ward
    • 1
  1. 1.University of EdinburghUK

Personalised recommendations