Slaves and Missionaries: The Disintegration of Jamaican Slave Society, 1787-1834

By Mary Turner | Go to book overview

Conclusion

EMANCIPATION DAY, AUGUST 1, 1834, marked the moment when chattel slavery throughout the British empire ceased to exist. Severe limitations were initially imposed on the ex-slaves' freedom--forty hours of unpaid labor a week were extracted from the Jamaican "apprentices" until 1838--but emancipation immediately established full religious freedom and transformed the missionaries' relation with their converts. It allowed them to develop full-fledged church organizations complete with Jamaican lay preachers, ministers, and even missionaries. Mission schools expanded with the help of an education grant from the British government, and the missionaries, freed from all political constraints, could openly engage themselves in all issues concerning their converts. They could, and did, intervene in wage disputes, attack the apprenticeship system, condemn racism, promote the development of an independent peasantry, and encourage the peasants to claim their share of political power by putting themselves on the electoral register.

The ex-slaves, to whom emancipation restored a measure of the hope and confidence generated by the rebellion, responded massively. They gave an "astonishing impulse" to the development of mission work; the destroyed chapels were replaced by larger buildings that were still too small to contain the congregations they attracted, and the number of mission churches and missionary societies represented in the island multiplied.1"It was all happiness--almost unmingled joy--wherever we went multitudes came flocking to hear the good men," wrote a Baptist missionary retrospectively. So great was the influence the missionaries enjoyed in the decade following abolition that their old ally at the Colonial Office, James Stephen, predicted that the government of the island would fall into their hands.2 The freedmen's enthusiasm for the missionaries was justified; by 1834 they had proved to be agents in the destruction of

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Slaves and Missionaries: The Disintegration of Jamaican Slave Society, 1787-1834
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vi
  • Abbreviations vii
  • Chapter One - The Planters and the Missionaries 1
  • Notes 30
  • Chapter Two - The Jamaican Slaves 38
  • Notes 59
  • Chapter Three - The Missionaries and the Slaves 65
  • Notes 95
  • Chapter Four - The Humanitarian Challenge 102
  • Notes 126
  • Chapter Five - The Struggle for Religious Freedom 132
  • Notes 144
  • Chapter Six - The Baptist War 148
  • Notes 173
  • Chapter Seven - Emancipation Achieved 179
  • Notes 191
  • Conclusion 195
  • Notes 202
  • Bibliography 204
  • Index 215
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