Great House Rules: Landless Emancipation and Workers' Protest in Barbados, 1838-1938
When Emancipation came in 1938, Blacks in Barbados imagined that the terms of their everyday lives would undergo radical change. Instead, an unrelenting ‘landless freedom’ would be violently imposed upon a community whose conditions of life and work remained largely unchanged, on plantations that produced more sugar with less labour for below subsistence wages. It was the rule of the Great House that subverted the promise of Emancipation. This is the story of the post-Emancipation betrayal of 83, 000 Blacks in Barbados; it is also a narration of how these Blacks prepared for persistent resistance and civil war as the only means to effectively break the rule of the Great House and establish preconditions for genuine Emancipation. The battles over progress were fought on the plantations, in the streets, in the courts, in the Legislative Councils and wherever Blacks recognised sites to effect change. This chain of organised rebellion was linked to produce the 1876 rebellion. Against this background of 19th century popular protest and workers’ agitation, the modern labour movement, the anti-colonial campaign and the agitation for democratic governance came to maturity by the 1920s. The final breach in the walls of the structure of white supremacy was achieved in 1937 when, under the ideological leadership of Clement Payne, workers took to the streets and fields with arms. Professor Beckles argues that this unbroken chain of protest and political activity from 1838 to the 1937 Riots constitute the ‘Hundred Year War’ against Great House Rules. It had taken a full century of struggle after emancipation to see, even at a distance, the freedom that was promised by the abolition of slavery legislation. Written in a clear, discourse style, the author succeeds in presenting the text as an accessible document for public consumption, rather than a dense academic work.
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Great House Rules: Landless Freedom and Black Protest in Barbados, 1834-1937
Hilary McD. Beckles
No preview available - 2003
acres agricultural anti-slavery artisans Assembly Barbadian Beckles black community Bridgetown British Bussa cane Caribbean cent Church Clarke Colonial Office Commission constituted Contract Law culture destitution Disturbances in Barbados domination economic effect elite emancipation emigration employers enslaved Blacks enslaved persons established estates exports families free Blacks free coloured freedom George Belle Governor MacGregor Guiana Hennessey Higman House Indies and Recent Jamaica John Poyer July labouring classes land landlessness large numbers Leeward Islands Legislative Council Legislature Liberal London Lord Glenelg Magistrate Majesty’s major manumission merchant Negroes O’Neale organised ownership parish Parliament Parliamentary Papers Pile plantocracy police political poor population Potato Riot Prescod racism rebellion rent reported represented resistance respect Shot Sierra Leone slave owners slave-owning slavery social society Speightstown St Michael St Philip sugar industry sugar planters tenantry system theWest wages West Indian West Indies white community white supremacy