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Emancipation and Abolition

The status and existence of slavery in the Caribbean was one of the most frequent topics of writings. Works in this collection comprise arguments made by contemporaries, British, American, and Caribbean, both for and against the abolition of the institution of slavery.

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Written by a Catholic monarchist to the King of Britain, this document was published in Philadelphia in 1832. Complaining about the French Revolution and postulating the need for a monarchist, centralized government, the author expresses the “dismay of the white inhabitants” that recent changes in island slave law had created. The fact that one document could attract interest in Spain, England, the United States, and Puerto Rico is a testament to how international the issue of slavery had become.

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Published by the newspaper of the American Anti-Slavery Society, this document relates a six-month journey intended to explore how the islands of Antigua, Barbados, and Jamaica—and their enslaved populations—had been impacted by the abolition of slavery. Sourced from the United States but full of important information about conditions on the islands immediately after emancipation, this volume demonstrates the intersection of the stories of the United States and Caribbean emancipation movements.

This broadside promoted an upcoming celebration to be held in Boston, upon the “Abolition of Slavery in the British West India Islands.” Among the advertised scheduled events were singing, prayers, sermons, and the debut of a song apparently composed expressly for this occasion.

A missionary from Barbados, Reverend Bleby delivered his speech on emancipation to the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. First an account of a fifty-thousand-person slave uprising in Jamaica, then a reflection on the results of emancipation in the Caribbean, the speaker gave immense credit to the failed rebellion, and its leader, Samuel Sharp, for forcing the hand of the British government by revealing the extent of the enslaved people's unhappiness. While this would seem to be a given, that unhappiness was nonetheless challenged by a “pro-slavery press,” a press Bleby warns had since moved to the United States.

The title refers to “the right way, the safe way” of enacting immediate emancipation for all enslaved people in the United States. Advancing the argument by demonstrating the negative impact of the institution on economic productivity and by describing the positive impact and results of emancipation in the Caribbean, the author advocates for the same policy in the United States. The experience of the Caribbean is here deployed to advance the cause of emancipation and abolition in North America.