The Self Liberation Passive Resistance And Active Resistance History Essay

The earliest signifier of forced labor in the West Indies was the encomienda which utilized the Neo-Indian people and resulted in the close decimation of their full population. This was followed by the system of white indentured labor which brought immigrants from Ireland, England and Wales. This did non last really long because of the fact that the Europeans were non accustomed to the tropical clime of the West Indies and did non last in such rough working conditions. This was so followed by African captivity which brought 1000000s of people from the seashore of West Africa

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From the beginning one notes that systems of bondage existed and predated their infliction in the Caribbean part. There were different constructs as to the responsibilities and duties of both ‘slave ‘ and ‘master’- construct of bondage ever present in about every recorded human civilization ( e.g. Greece, Rome, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, Africa ) but each differing from the other.

In the British West Indies the bondage system was referred to as Chattel Slavery. This was a system whereby the slaves and their progeny were enslaved during their life-time and were the exclusive belongings of the proprietor. The slaves were be bought and sold as trade goods. This therefore meant that conditions were really inhumane and psychologically destructive to any human being. From the sixteenth Century until Emancipation in 1834 this signifier of bondage was made legal and supported by the British authorities and was implemented in their settlements.

The causes for the Emancipation of slaves in the British West Indies can be interpreted in many different ways with Self Liberation ( Resistance and Revolts ) being at the head, the altering Economic clime in England at the clip and The Abolitionist Movement. Each of these played an of import function in the Emancipation of bondage but it was the incessant rebellions which impacted the most and in the procedure gained acknowledgment from full the British population.

1.0 Self-Liberation-Passive Resistance and Active Resistance

From the origin of African bondage at that place have been records of many signifiers of opposition. From the clip of gaining control to the plantation there were signifiers of opposition by the African slaves. The slaves did non passively accepted bondage and it conditions. It showed that they were determined to contend for their freedom no affair what the cost was. Almost every twelvemonth there was some signifier of rebellions on the plantation in separately or in groups. There were many day-to-day breaks the by the slaves as signifiers of protest and opposition. Slave Resistance can be looked in two ways.

Passive Resistance which includes the followers:

Runing Away

Most Significant signifier of non-violent opposition.

Easy to make ( Physically )

A finish nevertheless was needed ( Sometimes non to be found ) .

Jamaica, Trinidad, St. Vincent, and Guyana were good districts to run off in.

The Maroons were blowouts who stayed blowouts. They set up their ain communities apart from the plantation society. The Jamaica Maroons fought two major wars with the British and won which forced the granting of their freedom with a signed pact. In the pact they agreed to return all blowouts to their Masterss.

Many resources were spent by the plantation proprietors to catch the runaway slaves. They hence had to deter others from seeking to make it. It contained many hazards seeking to recapture runaway slaves.


Slaves starved themselves to decease.

To decrease their work load.

This resulted in a diminution of production in the plantation and besides caused the proprietor to lose money if the slave died.

Forging Illnesss

Not being able to work.

Most cases the maestro did non care but in cases where he thought it was contagious the slave would acquire remainder.

Again this disrupted the day-to-day activities in production and the slave still had to be fed.

Go Slow

This was hard to win.

Most times at that place was a possible for the slave to be whipped.

It was high hazard to the slaves.

In a manner the slaves took hazards of being punished at the same clip seeking to organize oppositions against being enslaved.


Damage equipment in the mill.

Burn sugar cane harvest.

Kill Animals

This was all highly unsafe but was accomplished. It was extremely effectual because it resulted in the proprietor losing money doing production of the harvest to worsen. They were times slaves were put to decease if found out.

Cultural Retention

A vested involvement by the slave Masterss was to take away their civilization resulted in dehumanising the slaves. A pattern of beating which the slaves was an of import activity in African civilization and faith. It was as type of individuality for the slaves. However some of the slaves still practiced it.

In taking civilization and faith of the slaves, other civilizations developed such as a mixture of the African faith with Christianity. By making this it showed a signifier of opposition by the slaves.

In making so the slaves maintained signifier of communicating unknown to the Masterss which enabled their rebellions to be started.

Educating Oneself

It was felt to be most unsafe if slaves were able to read and understand what was communicated by the Masterss.

Bing knowing was considered to be unsafe to the slave maestro because other slaves could be educated every bit good.

By being knowing the other slaves would be informed of what is taking topographic point such as the intelligence of the Haitian Revolt by slaves.

Most slave societies had Torahs censoring learning slaves to read and compose.

Active Resistance which includes the followers:


Slaves killed themselves instead than hold to populate in such atrocious conditions. This resulted in the slave Masterss to lose money on their investing. .


Even though the adult females protected their kids they were prepared to salvage these kids from the life they lived and had endured. This meant killing their infant alternatively of them being born as slaves.


Most rebellions were started by adult females slaves who tried to poison their Masterss.

Many slave adult females had cognition of toxicant workss and used it against the proprietors.

It was ever on the heads of proprietors being poisoned by slave adult females who cooked for them.

Open Revolt and Rebellion

It must be noted that the merely successful slave rebellion was in Haiti in 1804.However many rebellions were attempted in the British West Indies. The slave proprietors controlled how things were done in the plantation the manner of life of the slaves but they could ne’er hold controlled the heads of the enslaved person who merely thought was freedom.

The Major Revolts in the British West Indies

Barbados Rebellion in 1816

In 1816 a major rebellion broke out led by an African Born slave Bussa. It was spread across one tierce of the island and included 70 plantations. It was decently organized by the slaves desiring their freedom and a better manner of life. By the clip the rebellion was over a one-fourth of the sugar cane harvest was lost. It resulted in the executing of 214 slaves and the supplanting of others who were sold off or shipped out. However it did carry through a enormous loss of income to the plantation proprietors.

The Demerara Rebellion in 1823

With sugar monetary values down slaves were pushed harder in the sugar cane Fieldss so as to increase the production degrees. This resulted in a major rebellion in 1823 in Demerara organized by Quamina and Smith. It involved about 9000 slaves. It resulted in the decease and hurt of many enslaved people. It must be noted that no plantation proprietors or their households were hurt as in old rebellion.

The Jamaica Rebellion in 1831

The island on Jamaica had a legion rebellions a sum of 16 from 1655 to 1813.However the largest one took topographic point in 1831. It started when enslaved people demanded payment for the work been done. It was led by Samuel Sharpe and it involved 20,000 slaves who took control of over 200 estates and seized a huge sum of land. It was finally controlled ensuing in the loss of unrecorded of 200 slaves and 14 British plantation owners. This rebellion lasted several months and took the attempt of the British military personnels and local reserves to stamp down it. The impact of this rebellion made the British realised the dangers and cost of go oning bondage because this rebellion dealt a really terrible blow to the economic value of the plantation system in Jamaica.

Therefore it can be seen the chief ground more and more historiographers are keeping house of the position that the slaves were themselves responsible for their ain freedom. The slave population had immensely outnumbered the Europeans at that clip. In figure there is strength and the slaves were non traveling to digest being enslaved and dehumanized without seting up a battle. Most of import the plantation proprietors had begun populating a life of fright by the high figure of rebellions which placed their lives in danger even though more slaves died during and after any rebellion than Whites. Therefore the menace of more rebellion caused the British to alter its place of go oning bondage and whether it was economically feasible plenty to go on with the plantation system.

2.0 The Change in Economic Policies in England

Approaching the terminal of the eighteenth century the profitableness of the plantation and the system of bondage was in diminution. This in a manner contributed to the abolishment of the slave trade in 1807 which was no longer profitable. The Industrial Revolution had started in England at this clip and the economic system was traveling to a capitalist system. Britain no longer needed good that had been produced under the plantation system and which had to be to a great extent subsidized by the authorities Factories in Manchester had begun bring forthing and using 1000s of workers bring forthing goods like cotton which was in heavy demand and really profitable. This rapid growing of Industrialization required immense capital and money from the bondage made was now invested to a great extent in new mills alternatively of back uping a now non profitable plantation system.

Sugar from the British West Indies could non be sold on the unfastened market in England for a net income and as a consequence warehouses were overstocked. This was because of the unfastened market system which allowed sugar to be purchased from the cheapest beginning such as Cuba and Brazil. At the same clip excessively France was bring forthing Beta vulgaris sugar which was cheaper and of a high quality excessively. Previously the British had imposed heavy revenue enhancements on sugar non produced by the British plantation. In this capitalist environment it was hard for the authorities to hold continued with a socialist economic system.

In add-on the changeless menace of rebellions by the slaves made the state of affairs worse for the plantation owners. The rebellions which occurred resulted in loss of valuable belongingss such as mills and white human lives. They the plantation system were no longer of import to the booming economic advancement which took topographic point in England.The new industries and now in-between category no longer felt obligated to back up a system which no longer brought in a immense amount of money. This resulted in the plantation proprietors to lose whatever Alliess and support they had at place.

3.0 The Church, the Abolitionist Movement and Reformation in Government

During this period the British experienced had a metempsychosis in their Christian religion and the thought of every adult male being a brother of another. Therefore bondage was now thought of as being really un-Christian and resulted in the Church fall ining the Abolitionist motion to stop bondage. This caused the Church to go actively involved in the emancipation procedure.

The Abolitionist wanted to see the terminal of bondage every bit shortly as possible and now had enormous power in parliament with a two-third bulk. The plantation now had no buttonholing power in parliament. Their run included outstanding figures such as William Wilberforce who was an MP in parliament and Thomas Buxton who succeeded him. There were besides extremist figures as Thomas Clarkson whose group mounted enormous force per unit areas on the British parliament and authorities. This run led to the transition of the Emancipation Act in 1833 and which became jurisprudence on 1st August 1834.

The white on the job category in metropoliss such as Manchester had begun to acquire signed request to stop bondage. They began a run which shortly spread quickly fall ining with the Abolitionist motion. In a manner these do-gooders attempts did in a manner hasten the emancipation procedure. The mean on the job category citizens had begun to recognize that the African slaves were their brothers and started to follow a more humanist stance.

It must be noted that the plantation proprietors were given a grant of 20 million which for compensation for the loss of belongings and for stoping bondage. This helped to enable the plantation proprietors to maintain their belongingss and control of power integral. The African slaves got perfectly nil except their so called freedom. The now freed slaves had no money or land to last doing the procedure of really holding to last highly hard.