The Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) was the first successful slave revolt
in the Caribbean, and it was one of the most important events in the history of
the Americas. Along with the obvious human rights benefits that the Haitian
Revolution achieved, there were some serious setbacks for the nation as well.
Between 1783 and 1789, Saint Domingue was the foremost sugar producer in
the region, but by the end of the war the economy was completely destroyed,
and to this day Haiti has not come anywhere close to reattaining its once
prominent economic status in the Caribbean. The results of the revolution
sent fear through the European consciousness as well as strengthened the
growing idea that slavery may be an immoral practice. In the United
Kingdom, slavery lost popularity quickly and an antislavery movement was
initiated. After May 1807, no British ship was permitted to leave with a cargo
of slaves, and by March 1808, it was made illegal for a slave to be landed in
any British colony. The law became even stricter in 1811 when the trafficking
of slaves was made into a felony. Despite the attempts to end the slave
trade, plantation slavery continued in the British Caribbean. Slavery was not
officially abolished in the Caribbean until 1834. The termination bill which
abolished it called for twelve years of apprenticeship for the “ex-slaves”,
which was not very different from slavery. This system was abolished in 1838.
During and after all of this vacillating lawmaking, a serious labor
problem developed in the Caribbean. The key to the production of the
Caribbean’s produce, mainly sugar, was the system of slavery. Slavery
practically eliminated labor costs, and all...
... middle of paper ...
...s felt as though they
were being undercut by this new type of cheap labor. The blacks resented
that their slavery had come to an end, but in order to compete with the new
labor force, slave-like conditions were once again the only option. The
"coolies” in Jamaica, as well as the Asians on the other islands began their
journeys as outsiders living in terrible conditions.
Today, a sort of blend has taken place in these cultures. A good
example of the blending that has taken place can be seen in the music of the
region. In rural Trinidad there is a popular form of music that mixes classical
Indian singing with a soca beat. Soca is a music that combines the insistent
tempos of calypso with the energy of hip hop and the quatrain-like structures
of traditional north Indian folk songs.
Tinker, Hugh. A New System of Slavery. Oxford University Press, 1974.
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