In August 1833, the Slave Emancipation Act was passed, giving all slaves in the British empire their freedom, albeit after a set period of years.
 

Plantation owners received compensation for the 'loss of their slaves' in the form of a government grant set at £20,000,000.

 

 

Freedom can be said to have arrived in two stages; the first being the early morning of Friday, August 1, 1834.

 

On that day many slaves were said to have walked up hills and climbed trees so as to clearly witness the literal dawning of their freedom. Around the island thousands attended "Divine Services" to give thanks and praise.

 

August 1, 1834, marked the emancipation of all slaves in British colonies but it was a case of freedom with conditions. Although the Abolition Act stated that "slavery shall be and is hereby utterly abolished and unlawful" the only slaves truly freed, were those not yet born and those under six years of age. All other slaves were to enter a six-year 'apprenticeship' during which they were to be 'apprenticed' to the plantations.

 

On August 1, 1838, apprenticeship ended prematurely in Jamaica and the other islands in the Caribbean, marking full emancipation.

 

"The hour is at hand, the Monster is dying...

the winds of freedom appeared to have been set loose, the very building shook at the strange yet sacred joy." 
William Knibb, non-conformist Baptist preacher and abolitionist, at the dawning of August 1, 1838.

 

 

Further Reading from the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper

Road to Freedom

Story of Emancipation

 

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