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The Emancipation Act
Freedom, More or Less

On August 1, 1834, the Emancipation Act came into force, after fifty years of bitter debate in Britain over the morality and profitability of slavery. It did not abolish servitude, but it was the first significant promise of freedom.

This act did not make a difference to the more than half million slaves in Britain's Caribbean colonies, for although the Emancipation Act outlawed slavery in theory, the slaves had to wait another four years for the most elementary liberties.

The government was afraid of liberating half a million slaves without controls, while the planters did not want their estates to collapse, as forced labour would no longer be available.

The Emancipation Act simply transformed the slaves into apprenticed labourers for a further four to six years. The only slaves to be immediately free were those under six years old, while the incubus of slavery persisted for the others.
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British Slave Emancipation: The Sugar Colonies and the Great Experiment, 1830-1865, William A. Green. Clarendon Press, 1991.
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French Reaction to British Slave Emancipation, Lawrence C. Jennings. Louisiana State University Press, 1988.
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Guide for the Study of British Caribbean History 1736-1834 Including the Abolition and Emancipation Movements, Lowell Joseph Ragatz. Da Capo Press, 1932.
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Liberating the Family?: Gender and British Slave Emancipation in the Rural Western Cape, South Africa, 1823-1853, Pamela Scully. Heinemann, 1998.
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Slavery, Abolition, and Emancipation: Black Slaves and the British Empire: A Thematic Documentary, Michael Craton, James Walvin, and David Wright. Longman Group United Kingdom, 1976.
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Search for 'slave emancipation' on Amazon.com or Amazon.ca.
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