07 Sep New West Indian Guide advance article online
‘The apprenticeship system in the Caribbean: The world of the apprentices’, by Gad Heuman.
Slavery was abolished in the Anglophone Caribbean on August 1, 1834. On that date, the enslaved became legally free. However, the freedom of the enslaved was heavily circumscribed by the Apprenticeship system which followed immediately after August 1. Under the terms of this system, former slaves—now called apprentices—were required to work up to 45 hours per week for their former masters without compensation.
Apprentices resisted the system at its outset; subsequently, they attempted to assert their rights as much as possible during the Apprenticeship period, even in the face of a highly oppressive system. Yet, like the enslaved, apprentices have left very little direct evidence in the form of letters or diaries. But because of their appearances before the stipendiary magistrates and in the reports generated about the Apprenticeship system, we can recreate aspects of their world and understand how apprentices sought to take advantage of Apprenticeship for their own benefit.