The Price You Pay

Choosing Family, Friends, and Familiarity over Freedom in the Leeward Islands, 1835–1863

in Journal of Global Slavery
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Planters and colonial officials throughout the Caribbean feared the consequences of emancipation in the nineteenth century, especially after the British abolished slavery in 1834. Concerns were particularly strong among the planters and colonial officials of the Dutch Leeward islands of St. Maarten, Saba, and St. Eustatius, as their geographical location left them vulnerable to the decisions of neighboring imperial powers. As early as 1825, when British law prohibited the extradition of foreign runaway slaves from their colonies, freedom was just a short boat ride away for the enslaved population of the Dutch islands, leading to worries that their islands would quickly become depopulated of their laborers. These fears were ultimately unfounded, however. As this article shows, the majority of slaves of the Dutch Leeward islands chose to either stay home or, after sojourning in another place, decided to return to their homes.

The Price You Pay

Choosing Family, Friends, and Familiarity over Freedom in the Leeward Islands, 1835–1863

in Journal of Global Slavery

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References

12

Jessica Vance Roitman and Han Jordaan“Fighting a Foregone Conclusion: Interest Groups, West Indian Merchants, and St. Eustatius, 1780–1810,” Tijdschrift voor Sociale en Economische Geschiedenis 12 no. 1 (2015): 79–100.

14

Jeppe Mulich“Microregionalism and Intercolonial Relations: The Case of the Danish West Indies, 1730–1830,” Journal of Global History 8 no. 1 (Mar. 2013): 72–94 74.

23

George Severijn VeerIets over de emancipatie der slaven door eenen voormaligen bewoner der kolonie Suriname 1856 (’s Gravenhage: de Gebroeders Max Cleef1857) 171–172.

33

Victor Bulmer-ThomasThe Economic History of the Caribbean since the Napoleonic Wars (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press2012) 60.

35

Richard Frucht“Emancipation and Revolt in the West Indies: St. Kitts, 1834,” Science and Society 39 (1975): 199–214206.

36

Thomas HoltThe Problem of Freedom: Race Labor and Politics in Jamaica and Britain 1832–1938 (Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press1992) 12.

37

Douglas Hall“The Flight from the Estates Reconsidered: The British West Indies, 1838–1842,” The Journal of Caribbean History 10 and 11 (1978): 7–24 23.

38

HoltThe Problem of Freedom45.

39

Bulmer-ThomasThe Economic History of the Caribbean59.

40

Bonham RichardsonCaribbean Migrants: Environmental and Human Survival on St. Kitts and Nevis (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press1983) 84.

41

Douglas HallFive of the Leewards 1834–1870 (Lodge Hill, Barbados: Caribbean University Press1971)

42

Bulmer-ThomasThe Economic History of the Caribbean74.

46

Bulmer-ThomasThe Economic History of the Caribbean59.

47

Bulmer-ThomasThe Economic History of the Caribbean58.

48

Ibid.74.

49

HallFive of the Leewards40–41.

51

HallFive of the Leewards113.

53

Donald WoodTrinidad in Transition: The Years after Slavery (Oxford: Oxford University Press1968) 65–66.

54

RichardsonCaribbean Migrants81.

56

Brian L. MooreRace Power and Social Segmentation in Colonial Society: Guyana After Slavery 1838–1891 (New York: Gordon and Breach1987) 35.

58

Light to Stanley No. 75 19 May 1843CO 111/200.

59

MooreRace Power and Social Segmentation37.

60

See Monica Schuler‘Alas Alas Kongo’: A Social History of Indentured African Immigration into Jamaica 1841–1865 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press1980) 11–12 22–23 26 114; and Monica Schuler “Liberated Central Africans in Nineteenth-Century Guyana” in Linda Heywood ed. Central Africans and Cultural Transformation in the American Diaspora (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2002) 319–352.

61

MooreRace Power and Social Segmentation37.

62

Robson LoweThe Codrington Correspondence 1743–1851 (London: Self-published1951) 79.

63

Joseph Sturge and Thomas HarveyThe West Indies in 1837 Being the Journal of a Visit to Antigua Monsterrat Dominica St. Lucia Barbadoes and Jamaica (London: Hamilton Adams1838) 9 15–16.

66

Parliamentary Papers 1840XXIV “Copy of a Circular Despatch … Relative to Immigration into Trinidad” 363.

67

Alan H. AdamsonSugar Without Slaves: The Policial Economy of British Guiana 1838–1904 (New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press1972) 43.

71

Paula‘Vrije’ Slaven66–67.

81

Troutman“Grapevine in the Slave Market” 217.

83

Parliamentary Papers 1846XXVIII “State of the Labouring Population” 295.

84

Parliamentary Papers 1842XXIX Testimony of Thomas F. Johnston 453–454.

85

Parliamentary Papers 1839XXXVII “Papers Relative to the West Indies” 190.

87

Parliamentary Papers 1839XXXVII “Papers Relative to the West Indies” 190. The disintegration of the closely-knit social fabric of the slave plantation in the post-emancipation Dutch colonies was well-documented Families fell apart and various family members migrated away to find work. See Oostinide Roosenburg en Mon Bijou 195–199.

89

Nevis Council Minutes 1840 to 1844entry for 23 Dec. 1843.

90

Parliamentary Papers 1845XXXI “Colonial Population Censuses” 331; Parliamentary Papers 1842 XIII Testimony of George Estridge 232; Parliamentary Papers 1845 XXXI “Correspondence Relative to the Laboring Population of the West Indies” 575; Nevis Council Minutes 1840 to 1844 entry for 23 Dec. 1843; Hall Five of the Leewards 40–41.

92

Jessica Vance Roitman“Land of Hope and Dreams” 10–15.

94

Ibid.12 June 1848.

101

Bulmer-ThomasThe Economic History of the Caribbean73.

Figures

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    Figure 1

    Leeward islands

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    Figure 2

    Enslaved population of Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Martin, 1828–1862. Data is available for the population of St. Eustatius for the years 1828 and 1829. Data for these years are not available for St. Martin and Saba. The X axis is not continuous because consecutive yearly data is not available.Sources: NL-HaNA, Gouverneur-Generaal der Nederlandse West Indische Bezittingen 1.05.08.01, inv. nr. 351, 345; AN NAC 3757; AN NAC 4 Gouverneur 103 RT; Tweede Rapport der Staatscommissie benoemd bij koninklijk besluit van 29 november 1853, 186, 202–203, 305.

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