I would like to thank the many persons who helped me to complete this School Based Assignment (SBA) project. First of all, thank God for guiding me and helping me. My teacher and family also helped me in many ways, for which I am grateful. Theyprovided me with their assistance; my biggest gratitude is to my teacher (Mrs.L. Hibbert) who made sure I completed my (SBA) on time.
The reason why I choose this area for my research is I wanted to find out and research in detail aspect of the 19th century revolt. These revolts in my opinion, showed the courage and determination of the enslaved, to bring about their own freedom. There is no doubt that the events which occurred helped to hasten the emancipation process in the British Caribbean.This research will be under the theme 3: Resistances and Revolt which will be study and researched in order to complete this project.
To what extent the major 19th century revolts helped to contribute to the emancipation process in the British territories in 1838?
The extended essay
Revolts were common features of 19th century slave society. A revolt is an uprising or rebellion against authority. There were several revolts in the nineteenth century, namely Barbados 1816, Demerara 1823 and Samuel Sharpe or Christmas rebellion of 1831. Some of the reasons for the revolts were similar in all the revolts in the 19th century. The major reasons for the 19th century revolts of theenslaved were as follows: The enslaved had a strong desire that they should be freed. Enslaved wanted freedom from punishment, harsh treatment and the dehumanizing situation they had to endure.
Another reason was that enslaved in the 19th century shared a common goal and that goal was to get their emancipation and independence. In other British territories there were similar activities to weaken the foundations of slavery and finally bring slavery to an end. The 19th century revolts started in Barbados in 1816, on Easter Sunday an enslaved uprising began in Barbados. This cost hundreds of lives of enslaved including Bussa that was killed by the soldiers and another 44 were executed afterwards and a quarter of that years sugar crop.Lest you forget page 67- 68(Resistance and Revolt)
To reach their objective for emancipation the enslaved had to revolt against their owners in order to get their freedom. In 1815 William Wilberforce introduced a bill in parliament requiring the names of all enslaved in the West Indies to register. This would expose smugglers of enslaved people. This proposal was wildly misunderstood in Barbados where freed Negroes told the enslaved that they were to be emancipated on January 1, 1816.In other British territories e.g. Jamaica there was similar acts of attempts to bring slavery to an end. In the 19th century, some of the actions that were taken were to burn down the estates, kill the white plantation owners, and damage equipment the enslaved were aware that these actions would influence slaves in other territories. From the Haitian revolution, slaves drew inspiration and planters were aware of that.
Revolt of these nature impact the smooth running of the estates, contributed to a fall in revenue, disturbed the management system and gradually weakened the foundation of slavery.These activities contributed to the abolitionists in Britain, doubling their efforts to bring slavery to an end. All the revolts had serious consequences, both for planters and enslaved. while these revolts were taking place in the Caribbean, the anti slavery movement was heating up in Britain, so to an extent the turmoil in the Caribbean helped to influence decisions in Britain about emancipation.
In the Demerara revolt in 1823 there were similar numbers of reasons for the revolt including the desire for freedom. The Demerara Revolt, like the other 19th century revolts, also brought pressure to bear on the plantation system. The effects of this revolt brought into sharp focus how authorities dealt with these conflicts. The involvement of the slaves, over a hundred killed and 47 hanged, while several others flogged and sent to prison. The persecution of Baptist ministers like John Smith caught the attention of the British anti – Slavery group although the revolt failed, it still had an impact. All these events were used to support and mount strong evidence against slavery in the British territories. The abolitionists were incensed and all these activities, contributed to bringing full emancipation in British territories in 1838.
The revolts however was making its own impact, as the enslaved continued to destroy plantation property, maimed and murder the whites obviously there was also death among the enslaved population. Another revolt which helped to influence and hastens the emancipation process was the Samuel Sharpe revolt in 1831. There were slaves in Jamaica who were no longer prepared to continue to work as slave. He instructed slaves to refuse working until their masters decided to pay. The enslaved made a contribution to the emancipation process, by constantly harassing the plantation system. Samuel Sharpe was blamed for the revolt.
In the Samuel Sharpe’s revolt, more than 160 properties had been burnt, but the revolting slaves killed about twelve whites, while approximately 400 unarmed slaves were killed in the field by troops, 100 more were executed after brief “trials” and hundreds were brutally flogged,in connection with the outbreak.(Lest you forget page 23 Movements towards Emancipation) Non- conformist missionaries like William Knibb and Thomas Burchell were also blamed for the revolt, and tried. After their release, they returned to Britain and helped the emancipation cause, making reports to the Abolition Society.
The Samuel Sharpe rebellion was very important in Caribbean history because, Sharpe’s plan of resistance forcefully brought to light the need for full emancipation. It played a great role in bringing emancipation to an end. Abolitionists received information about persecution of missionaries and harsh physical treatment of slaves was brought to the fore. The British Parliament enacted the emancipation Act 1833, and enforced it in 1834.
“The Samuel Sharpe rebellion and its aftermath increased the rising tide of revolt against slavery in Britain.” Lest you forget page 22 – 24 (Movement Towards Emancipation) even the idea of apprenticeship was deemed a failure.
The abolitionist and anti-slavery society contributed to destroy the slavery system, but the enslaved contributed in a positive way in contributing to their own freedom. While it can be argued that persons such as Thomas Clarkson, Thomas Fowell Buxton and others worked to bring slavery to an end, the contribution of the enslaved cannot be overlooked. They continually resisted slavery and showed that they were not prepared to accept slavery as a way of life. (Freedoms won; Verene Shepherd)
Cotton making process
Revolts on ship
Brian Dyde et al : Emancipation To Emigration, Macmillan Publishers ltd, 2003
Doris Hamilton – Willie, Lest You Forget: Resistance and Revolt. Jamaica Publishing house ltd, 2003.
Doris Hamilton – Willie, Lest You Forget: Movement Toward Emancipation. Jamaica Publishing house ltd, 2003.
www.Google.com/Revolts in 19th century/