The anti-slavery movement developed in the early 1800s was a formidable force in the quest to end slavery. The West India Committee, in a bid to head off attacks, agreed to proposals to improve the condition of the slaves. These proposals were called amelioration proposals and came into effect in 1823. The proposals said that the British government should write to each of the colonial governors, suggesting that the assemblies pass local laws to improve the condition of slaves. The proposals were as follows: 1. Female slaves should not be whipped, and the overseers and drivers should not carry a whip in the fields. 2. Records should be kept of all lashes given to male slaves and all punishments should be put off for at least 24 hours. 3. Religious instruction and marriages were to be encouraged. 4. Slaves could testify in court against a free man, provided that a minister supplied him with a character reference. 5. Slaves should have time off on Saturdays to go to market, so they would be free to attend church on Sunday mornings. 6. Slaves should not be sold as payment for debts.
7. There should be the establishment of slave savings banks which would help slaves to save money to buy their freedom. The failure of amelioration
These measures were met with fierce resistance from colonies such as Jamaica, Barbados, St Vincent and Dominica. Instead of improved conditions for the slaves, they faced increased brutality from the planters. In the end, most of the assemblies passed only a few of the less-important amelioration proposals. Amelioration failed, but it provided one of the major impetuses for the abolition of slavery. It became evident that the planters were unwilling to improve the lives of the slaves and, as such, the only other option was to put an end to slavery.
1. All slaves in the British Empire were to be set free on August 1, 1834. 2. Slave children under six years old were to be freed immediately. 3. All other slaves were to serve a period of apprenticeship. They were to work for their masters for 401/2 hours per week. They would be paid only for overtime. Praedial (field) slaves were to serve six years apprenticeship and non-praedial (domestic) slaves to serve four years. 4. Planters were to continue providing food, shelter, clothing, medical care and other allowances which they were accustomed to during slavery. Apprentices could not be sold and they could buy their freedom before apprenticeship came to an end. 5. A sum of £20 million was granted by the British Parliament to compensate slave owners for the loss of their slaves. 6. Stipendiary magistrates (SMs) were to be sent from England to ensure the proper working of the apprenticeship system and to settle all disputes between masters and apprentices. THE APPRENTICESHIP SYSTEM
Aims of Apprenticeship
a) To provide a peaceful transition from slavery to freedom. b) To guarantee planters an adequate supply of labour during the period and prepare for full freedom. c) To train apprentices for freedom, especially working for wages. d) To enable the colonial governments to revise the system of justice and establish institutions suitable for a free society. The stipendiary magistrates were retired naval and army officers on half pay, appointed from Britain and were accustomed to rough conditions and enforcing discipline. They were chosen because they were not connected to the planter class and it was felt that they would not be biased. Duties of stipendiary magistrates
a) To supervise the apprenticeship system.
b) To settle disputes between masters and apprentices.
c) To visit estates at regular intervals and hold court.
d) To inspect jail and workhouses.
e) To assist in fixing the value of slaves who wanted to buy their freedom. These duties were strenuous and led to the death of many SMs who were not accustomed to tropical conditions and could not afford the high cost of medical treatment. Conditions of...