Monday, 6 June 2011

Taino Indian Culture

 This link will provide you with information on the taino Civilization.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Establishment of the Free Peasantry and the Changes the Peasantry brought to the Colonies

Establishment of the Free Peasantry and the Changes the Peasantry brought to the Colonies
Some of the emancipated men and women hoped to become wage earners and stay in their own homes among friends and relatives.
To do this, they needed to earn cash to buy simple furniture and tools they had not owned when they were enslaved.
These plans usually became shattered when the planters began to cut wages, increase rent and evict the free persons they disliked.
Due to these actions, many Africans began to move away from the estates.
ž  Skilled craftsmen such as Masons, carpenters, barrel-makers, and cart-builders could move from one estate to another and found jobs fairly easily.
ž  It was harder for semi-skilled domestic workers, such as seamstresses and cooks to find work as many planters could no longer afford to pay them.
A number of conditions led the ex-slaves to leave the plantation:
ž  The desire for personal liberty
ž  Insecurity of tenure on the estates
ž  High rents on estate houses
ž  Low wages
ž  Familiarity with agriculture
ž  Availability of land for cultivation
The only way to make a complete break from the plantation and the enslaver relationship was for an African family to own their own land.
There were two obstacles to buying land:
ž  Few Africans had saved money from selling provision crops or overtime payments during apprenticeship.
ž  Many planters objected to the Africans being able to buy Crown lands. Laws were made stating that Africans can only purchase land if they purchased it in large amounts of land (ie 16 hectares or more)
ž  The only way in which Africans were able to acquire land was through the assistance of non-conformist ministers. For example a Baptist minister purchased 10 hectares of land in the mountains of Jamaica.
By the 1840’s more than 8,000 Africans were living on land purchased by non conformist leaders. These were the beginning of the ‘free villages’.
ž  In British Guiana some groups of Africans pooled their savings to fund co-operatives that bought entire plantations. The first co-operative village was built in 1839 when a group of Africans bought a plantation on the east coast of Demerara.
In the first or 20 years after emancipation many ex-slaves managed to leave the plantation, particularly in the larger colonies.
After 1838, the three largest territories, Jamaica, Trinidad, and British Guiana all had large areas of uncultivated land. These presented the opportunities for new occupations and new patterns of settlement.
During enslavement, Jamaica’s large interior lands were mostly uncultivated and uninhabited. By the 1850’s there were two settlements patterns.
ž  Near the coast-planters continued to produce sugar by the old English methods
ž  Inland, towns and villages grew up where shopkeepers, provisioners, tailors, shoemakers, and blacksmiths settled to buy sell from to the local workers.
Before 1838, the only established roads ran along the coastline linking plantations with ports and government towns.
By the 1850’s a new network of tracks and pathways linked interior towns with each other and the coast.
ž  Along them came the wholesalers to buy fresh foods, cocoa, coffee, pimento, arrowroot and ginger produced by the new free farmers. They sold these to a new group of merchants, who worked a two way trade. They shipped the farmer’s produce to Europe and imported manufactured goods, which they sold to wholesalers to supply village shopkeepers.
ž  The merchants brought new life to coastal towns and provided homes, stores and workshops of merchants and craft workers and lodging houses run by women

East Indian Indentured Labour Scheme

America Before Columbus Pt 1

Friday, 6 May 2011

The Haitian Revolution By : FRANKLIN W. KNIGHT

The Main Points of the Slavery Abolition Act

1. All slaves under the age of six were to be freed immediately
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2. Slaves over the age of six were to remain as part slave and part free for a further four years. In that time they would have to be paid a wage for the work they did in the quarter of the week when they were "free"
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3. The government was to provide £20 million in compensation to the slave-owners who had lost their "property."
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With the abolishment of slavery, the planters were not as profitable and many plantations were shut down at alarming rate. The people were now free and many refused to work for the plantation owners who once held them in bondage for financial gains.

Indian Arrival in the Caribbean

Indians arrival in the Caribbean evolved from the time Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ the Americas in October 1492. Within twenty years 80% of the native people Arawaks and Caribs were annihilated by slaughter and disease by the Spanish invaders. Slaves from Africa were brought in, in 1516 and after over 300 years slavery was abolished in 1834. To satisfy the greedy appetite of the European nations for cheap labour indentureship ‘another system of slavery’ was introduced in 1838.

PART TWO of Indian Arrival in the Caribbean will continue from the ‘docile coolies’ arrival in the Caribbean and how they fared over the eighty years of Indentureship.
            After the arrival of the first batch of indentured labourers on the SS Hesperus and SS Whitby on 5
May 1838 in British Guiana the ‘coolie trade’ ceased for seven years until the Fatal Rozack landed in Trinidad on 30 May 1845. This cessation of migration came about because the authorities in India and London were concerned that the indentured labourers were being treated as harshly as the slaves they were replacing and that the death toll enroute was too high. Inspite of this concern, emigration of cheap labour from India continued unabated for the next eighty years to the Caribbean and other parts of the world.
Queen Victoria accession to the throne on 20 June 1837 was only months away from the beginning of indentured labourers to the Caribbean on 5 May 1838, she ruled for sixty four years until 22 January 1901, becoming the Empress of India in 1876. It was during her reign that Britain became ‘great’ shipping the cheap labour of Indians to several of her colonies and at the same time taking advantage of the great wealth of India accumulated during the reign of the Mughals to fuel the expansion of the British Empire.
The number of deaths during the long three to six months voyage continued to be at a high level and never during the entire period of eighty years was acceptable. Deceit and false promises of a better life when recruiting in India, was another area that never improved.
The Indians on arrival were living in conditions no better than that of the African slaves they were replacing, their health if they survived the long voyages deteriorated daily, many died on the roadside, women with babies often had to take them to work leaving the infants all day in nearby fields in the hot sun so as to complete their task, many young children perished in this way.
It is worth recording for the benefit of all concerned that after slavery was abolished and the former slaves refused to work on the plantation it was the indentured labourers who worked the sugar estates under a new system of slavery. The Caribbean would have deteriorated into poverty like so many other areas during this harsh self-centred European colonisation. It was the coolies sometimes 100% work force on the plantations whose sweat, blood, tears and lives saved what we today call the Caribbean.

India between the end of the Napoleonic war in 1814 and the beginning of the First World War in
1914 furnished a supply of cheap disposable labour that energized the British Empire.
Within twenty years of their arrival the once ‘docile coolie’ started to protest. The common denomination in the conflicts were long working hours low wages and continued breach of promises including reduction from 32 cents per ‘task’ to 24 cents. Disturbances occurred at Plantation Leonara
West Coast Demerara when the workers pay was withheld, because they could not complete a job on water-logged soil. The indentured labourers became violent when other labourers were paid to complete the task. They physically assaulted the deputy manager and confronted the police who were armed with Enfield Rifles, the workers weapon was a five foot long knotty stick called ‘hackia stick’. The leaders of this incident were arrested and sent to prison at Mazaruni penal settlement.
Workers unrest was becoming more regular. Workers were rebelling against poor housing and continued abuse of their women by overseers and poor wages which were after twenty years of indentureship in 1860’s 20 to 24 cents as against 32 cents per ‘task’ as was agreed. Sometimes workers were expected to stay on the job for up to twenty three hours without a shift change or extra pay.
Plantation Devonshire Castle on the Essequibo Coast saw one of the worst riots when five Indians died in confrontation with the police. Over fifty women came out to support their men folk saying ‘they would die with their husbands’. In a letter to The Times one reader stressed that under such an oppressive system revolts were inevitable even among people so willing and contented as the Indian immigrant.
By the 1880s the East Indian increasingly saw themselves as an integral part of the social and political landscape. The Hosea riots of 1884 in Trinidad which resulted in the death of sixteen labourers and injury to no less than a hundred more, announced the movement of Indian labourers away from an existence on the fringes of society to a more integral and full relationship.
Indians were permitted to exchange their right for return passages after ten years in the colonies into land-grant, as well as the right to purchase additional land at £1.00 an acre. Many went into paddy cultivation and so introducing several of the staple diets into the region like rice and mangoes the national fruit of India, not forgetting the curries and all its variations that the coolies introduced which today has become the most popular dish in the Caribbean. Less that one in four Indians returned to
India, while the mortality level on ships and working conditions on the plantation came in for criticism throughout the indentured period.

Exploitation and shortage of Women
Demand for sugar increased in Europe as the quality of life improved in the nineteenth century.
The plantation owners were demanding more profits to maintain their exorbitant lifestyle, which
meant the managers and overseers on the plantations were pushing their labourers in the cane fields and sugar factories of which any job that can be done by a labourer was exempted from mule or machine assistance. Out of every 1000 indentured labourer introduced in the Caribbean only 527 survived the harsh conditions. The coolie remained the all-purpose work animal.
The wage rate stagnated for over one hundred years. Work on the sugar estates was hardest of all, harder than that of the coffee estates, tea gardens or rubber plantations. The sugar industry which provided nothing for the workers by way of incentives, succeeded in keeping them hard at work by a system of penalties and punishments. The role of the task masters was grim and their capacity to exploit the coolies continually included exploitation of their women.
            The watch-dogs – the Protectors and the magistrates identified with the planters not with the workers. Survival depended largely on their own powers of resilience, sometimes recreating some semblance of the lost India in festivals and feasts.
Too often their attempt to forget the cane fields ended up in jealous fighting over the women, (sometimes one woman to ten men) and drunken oblivion.
Although the indentured coolie could be held in legal bondage only for a period of years, the plantation held most of them for life. The only escape was to return to India worn out and impoverish in most cases. For almost a century after slavery the plantation imposed a total way of existence upon generations of bonded Indians.