Apprenticeship in Jamaica: Was It Successful?

2399 Words Feb 8th, 2015 10 Pages
Cherelle Fox
His 272
Mr. Chris Curry
Apprenticeship in Jamaica: Was it successful?

The Emancipation of the British West Indies was anticipated as early as 1787, but was not achieved until the Abolition Act of 1833. However, in 1833 emancipation was not as complete as these words would suggest, as there were clauses in the Act about an Apprenticeship system which delayed complete emancipation until 1838. The Apprenticeship system was originally applied to the plan instituted in the interval between slavery and emancipation to prepare the slaves to assume the duties of freemen. The new law freed immediately those slaves under the age of six years old; however older slaves were to be ‘apprenticed’ for up to eight years. There were
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The planters in Jamaica almost immediately adopted an ‘eight hours a day schedule’, which meant that apprentices had little time to cultivate their provision grounds, since Saturday was their market day and the fact that they were not allowed to cultivate their grounds on Sunday. The apprentices in Jamaica were unable to negotiate with their former masters about days that they can cultivate which further fuelled their animosity towards the Apprenticeship system and the planters. Historians Beckles and Sheppard had suggested that this not only inconvenienced the apprentices but also “prevented them from pursing alternate occupations to working on estates. The apprentices were kept dependant on the estates for their livelihood so that when full freedom came they would have been accustomed to look to the estates for their earnings”.
Furthermore, the apprentices also had to confront corrupted magistrates who often sympathized with the planters rather than the ex slaves. Most stipendiary magistrates were often poor white men from England who lacked wealth, power and prestige unlike most planters in the British Caribbean. As a result of this, they were often bribed and manipulated by the planters. Moreover, it was clear that the role of the stipendiary magistrates was to adjudicate disputes between the apprentices and their former owners, but the magistrates were sometimes obstructed by the reluctance of apprentices to
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