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The History Of The Caribbean Essay Sample

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The History Of The Caribbean Essay Sample

  1. How does the physical geography of the Caribbean impact settlement and development of resources after the conquest?

Caribbean is one of the most fertile areas of the world with a lot of agricultural potential. The initial colonization of the Caribbean region was led by the desire by colonialist to exploit the agricultural potential and in a short period of time, it gave way for large plantation and massive exportation of African slaves to work on those farms. In the course of the settlement, the European colonizers chose the fertile regions which were previously occupied by the native inhabitants (Knight, 1990, p. 6). Most of the natives were pushed further to remote and unproductive areas in order to pave way for more land for the settlers to establish their farms. The fertile areas were therefore more developed in support of plantations while the remote areas occupied by the natives were less developed.

  1. Social Structure of Plantation Slavery in the Caribbean

The formation of large plantation with little mechanization at the time meant that a lot of labor was required. The demand for labor was rising and it became evident that European could not provide the type of labor since they were colonial masters. As the natives put up a lot of resistance to the loss of their land, they were becoming a bitter option to provide free labor in European plantations. The first shipment of African slaves to work in Caribbean region was made in 1516. It is recorded that slave trade was already taking place in African before this first shipment therefore it provided a source of free laborers in Spanish Caribbean farms. This provided European plantations with free slaves who could be purchased only once but continued to offer their service at no cost (Knight, 1990, p. 120).. The increased shipment to the farms gave rise to the slave society composed of Africans from West Africa.

  1. Race, Color and Caste in the Caribbean

Like in any society, social class was a major factor in the Caribbean society. There two castes per see in the region. One was the colonial master class who were owners of the plantation and the other was the slave class. The slave class was further subdivided in to different stratus one made of the African slaves and the other made of the mulattoes or the colored slaves who were mainly the offspring of whites and blacks. In most case the mulattoes also called the pardos were given a higher stratus compared to the African slaves but mainly on the color of their skin (Knight, 1990, p. 126). This classification was instated mainly for the convenience of dealing with the slaves although there were internal societal forces which like language and other which could be attributed to the classification.

  1. Race, Color and Caste in The Caribbean Part II

The landscape of salve society in Spanish, Dutch, French and British Island were almost similar. Slave occupied the lower case of the society compared to the while creoles. With time there rose other strata in the slave society mad of half cast of the European and African society. These were referred by many names as mulattoes, Sambos, Quadroons, Mestees, Mestizos, and many others.  In all the colonies, everyone with an African descend despite their European kinship was considered as slaves and belonging to the lower segment of the society (Knight, 1990, p. 137).  There were little difference that were noted in the social classification of the slave society and all of them followed a similar pattern

  1. Women in Slavery

The story of Mary is a good illustration of the suffering women went through in the hands of their masters. The story of Mary also tells us of how parents were compelled to sell their children to colonial masters. However the narration introduces us to the suffering that women went through as domestic servants including naked whipping and other mistreatments despite their condition. In her witness Mary explains how she watched in horror as Captain and Mrs. Ingham senselessly beat and slaughtered a slave girl. This illustrates that slave women were exposed to all kind of mistreatments. Mary’s story also explains how slaves were taken as properties of their masters and were sold at will (ARBossert, 2008). In her case, Mary could not be freed despite offering her masters money to buy her freedom. The story of Mary shows endurance that women had to go through as slaves.

  1. Maroons in Jamaica

The Maroons was a group of ex-slaves who had escaped and settled in the mountain of Jamaica. They carried out occasion raids on British plantation and militants and occasionally freed slaves. Due to their rising influence, a new treaty, the article of pacification was signed with the Maroons at Trelawney Town which ushered in a new era. This was the first treaty that showed that a rebellious slave could bring their master to agree to their terms and most provision of these treaty provided equal status between them and the whites. Under the agreement the Maroons were settled in Nova Scotia and recruited to small armies. However they were not happy with the climate at Nova Scotia and therefore they were shipped to Sierra Leone where they put a stop to Black Loyalist revolt (Slave Resistance, 2008). Although they were first resisting the black slavery, it shows that they traded their cause in Jamaica for settlement in Nova Scotia where they were recruited to the White man army only to halt Black Royalist against British in Sierra Leone.

  1. Abolition of Slavery in the Caribbean

The abolishment of slave had various impacts on the economic plans of European countries. The dependence of European countries on the economic production of the Caribbean region meant that the abolishment of slavery would see serious labor impact on the productivity (Bell, 2008). Therefore they had to come with contingent plans that were likely to cushion this effect. For example the Act of emancipation in British provided that all the former slaves would be declared as apprentices which means that they were obliged to provide unpaid labor to their former masters three quarter for the working week (Knight, 1990, p. 169). As many colonies regained their independence the colonial masters found that they could not maintain slavery and therefore some decided to emigrate back home while other decided to remain back and rebuild the society together with the freed slaves (Bell, 2008).

  1. Haitian Revolution

Haitian revolution was one of the historical emancipation of the enslaved Africans in Saint Domingue which was a French colony. Haitian revolution was the first attempt by enslaved African to fight for their freedom. The revolution started off on the eve of the French revolution in 1791 led by Boukman who had conducted a Voudon service. At the time of the revolution, France was occupied with the French revolution and therefore they could not pay attention to the events in Saint Domingue (Knight, 1990, p. 211). However it was under the leadership of Toussaint that freed slaves exchanged their freedom   with their fight against British and Spanish forces invading Saint Domingue. With French parliament having passed declaration of human rights and granting freedom to all slaves in it colony, slaves at Saint Dominguez were free. However, it was Desalines who declared Haitian republic independence in 1804 (Hooker, 1996). Haiti therefore became the second republic from United States to be governed by freed slaves.

  1. Guyana After Abolition

The issue of dealing with Indians especially the importation of the Indian laborers had been a discussed in the British emancipatory committee. There had been consideration of the reopening the importation of the Indian laborers to different British colonies in 1840s. Consequently there was increased shipping of Collies from Calcutta in India to Guiana to provide cheap labor (Knight, 1990, p. 186). The importation of coolies from India to Guiana continued up to 1917 long after the slave trade had been abolished (Parliamentary Papers, XXXIX, NO. 463, 1839, MF42.266-67).

Owing this increased migration of Indians to Guyana, the racial composition of the country has seen majority of East Indian at 51% compared to 13% AfroGuyanes. The political landscape of the country has been increasingly divided along the racial line with major political party getting support from different races (Hookumchad and Seenarine, 2000).

  1. Jamaica after Abolition

After the end of the slavery in Jamaica, they were faced with the new challenge of proving the cheap labor as had been provided before by slave (Knight, 1990, p. 183). Like many other British colonies they resulted to the policy of apprenticeship where slaves were obliged to commit some of their working hours to provide free labor to their colonial masters. However this would not last long and it proved problematic and unreliable calling for the provision of the paid labor (Jamaica guid.info (2008) .Unlike the population of Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana, the population of Jamaica today is not varied or divided to racial liens. Jamaica did not experience a large flow of other races and it was predominantly occupied by Europeans, Mulattos and African. After the Europeans left, majority of those left are African and mulattos (Seenarine, 2000).

  1. Trinidad and Tobago After Emancipation

After the emancipation, Trinidad and Tobago found itself in an awkward position due to shortage of labor. With the failure of the apprentice, it became necessary to import Indians from the East India to provide free labor. Indians therefore composed a major labor force in the island. However they did not get well with the other races including Africans, mulattoes Chinese, and others.  Indians failed to socialize with other races (Sookdeo, 2008). This failure of Indiana to socialize, increased imprisonment, low wages and others led to various revolts by Indians. Ethnicity has since then continued to be witnessed in the island and Indians have in most cases been seen to occupy the lowest class of the society.


.Hooker, R. (1996): The Haiti Revolution. Retrieved on 22nd November 2008 from http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/DIASPORA/HAITI.HTM

ARBossert, (2008): Mary Prince. Retrieved on 22nd November 2008 from http://terpconnect.umd.edu/~bossert/mpintro.html

Bell, K. (2008): Mixed race people and emancipation era Jamaica. Retrieved on 22nd November 2008 from http://scholar.library.miami.edu/emancipation/culture4.htm

Jamaica guid.info (2008): An end to slavery. retrieved on 22nd November 2-08 from http://jamaica-guide.info/past.and.present/history/slavery.emancipation

Knight, F. W. (1990). The Caribbean – The Genesis of a Fragmented Nationalism (Second Edition ed.): Oxford University Press.

Parliamentary Papers, XXXIX, NO. 463, 1839. MF42.266-67, Retrieve on 22nd November 2008 from http://www.guyanaca.com/features/indianim_toguyana.html

Seenarine, M. (2000): Conflict between East-Indian and Black sin Trinidad and Guyana socially economically and politics. Retrieved on 22nd November 2008 from http://www.guyana.org/features/conflicts_indiansandblacks.html

Slave Resistance, (2008): The Maroons. Retrieved on 22nd November 2008 from http://scholar.library.miami.edu/slaves/Maroons/maroons.html

Sookdeo, N. A. (2008): Freedom, festivals and cast in Trinidad after slavery. Retrieved on 22nd November 2008 from http://www2.xlibris.com/bookstore/book_excerpt.asp?bookid=11335

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