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When full Emancipation came in 1838 a system that had been tried and tested in the Caribbean since the sixteenth century came to an end. Slavery had within itself the seeds of its own destruction, whether because slaves resisted it (alternating with accommodation), or whether the emergence of a new style capitalism rendered slavery obsolete or incompatible with British industrial society, or whether the merging of philanthropy with evangelical religion helped to frame an ideology that was antagonistic to slavery. Yet, whatever the “international dimensions” of Emancipation, the reality was that within the Caribbean the planter class remained opposed to Emancipation, and only the reward of £20,000,000 in compensation for their lost “property” made surrender to the Colonial Office more palatable to them. So, too, did planter recognition that they were to prove victorious in one very important respect-the slave was legally free, but the structure of slave society remained unchanged. The energy of planters was now to be directed towards converting a former slave labour force into a permanent plantation labour force. From the perspective of planters, it was to be the same rider, on the same mule, cantering towards the same destiny. As I have noted elsewhere, “The social system rested during and after slavery on the assumption that superiority or inferiority of social position were physically or philosophically congruent with superiority or inferiority of race.”

Emancipation Day

When full Emancipation came in 1838 a system that had been tried and tested in the Caribbean since the sixteenth century came to an end. Slavery had within itself the seeds of its own destruction, whether because slaves resisted it (alternating with accommodation), or whether the emergence of new-style capitalism rendered slavery obsolete or incompatible with British industrial society, or whether the merging of philanthropy with evangelical religion helped to frame an ideology that was antagonistic to slavery.

 

Why is Emancipation Day important?

Emancipation Day was officially introduced as a public holiday in Jamaica in 1893. The ‘First of August’ celebrations, however, was discontinued in 1962, when Jamaica gained independence. It was replaced by Independence Day, then observed on the first Monday in August. Emancipation Day was re-instituted in 1997 by then Prime Minister PJ Patterson as a national holiday celebrated on August 1. Independence Day was also fixed on August 6.

 

How to observe Emancipation Day

Not only are the two days marked as public holidays in Jamaica, but there are several events held on the island during this week to specifically celebrate the country, the culture, and its many achievements.

 

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Reference Sites

  • Non-Profits website for the observance
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Date

Aug 02 2021

Time

All Day
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