Essay on The Vagueness of the Emancipation Act of 1834

Essay on The Vagueness of the Emancipation Act of 1834

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The Vagueness of the Emancipation Act of 1834



The Emancipation Act of 1834 changed the course of history and the lives of many people in Great Britain and her colonies. However, despite its careful preparation by the British Parliament there were several flaws in the Act.
The Act of Emancipation addressed many issues in order to bring about the much-desired abolition of slavery as smoothly as possible. The Act consisted of three main clauses: from August 1st 1834 slavery would be abolished and pronounced illegal in every British colony; a transitional apprenticeship period would come into effect for the emancipated slaves; and a grant of a substantial amount of money would be paid to the planters of the British Caribbean colonies to compensate for their losses. In addition to these clauses there were several minor ones: the period of apprenticeship and the interaction between the planter and the apprentice would be supervised by Stipendiary Magistrates hired by the British Government; the apprentice had to work submissively for the entire period and all attempts at escape were strictly forbidden; apprentices had to work for three-quarters of the week and overtime was to be rewarded with wages or provisions; the planter had to continue supplying his apprentices with the standard allowance they had during slavery; all slave children under the age of six and those born to slave mothers would be free; children who were destitute might be apprenticed until the age of twenty-one; the apprentice was allowed to buy his freedom before his contract was over and the planter had to accept his due payment whether he wanted to or not; in the case of voluntary discharge the master was still responsible for the care of aged or in...


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... the transitional period of apprenticeship than on the overall welfare of the slaves. In other words when the Act of Emancipation was put into effect in 1834, the slaves would not have had many reasons to celebrate since for a further four to six years, they would be tied to the plantation that represented all the things that they wanted to get away from when their freedom was obtained. The proposals of the Emancipation Act of 1834 were also quite indistinct in defining the actual authority of the planter in the workings of the apprenticeship system. One can formulate the assumption that the vagueness of the Act itself can be attributed to the fact that the interests of the apprentices after their release was not of the utmost importance to the majority of the British Government. Therefore the end result appeared to hold no real freedom for the 'emancipated' slaves.

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