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Imagine that you are a plantation owner in Tobago. Write an account of the challenges you faced in managing your estate after the emancipation of slaves in 1838
Tobago got its name from the Carib word Tavaco, which was a pipe used by the Amerindians to smoke tobacco leaves, and was inhabited by the Caribs at the time Columbus visited in 1498. The Emancipation Bill was presented by Mr. Thomas Buxton in the year of 1833 and the Act became effective on August 1, 1834. On this day, it appeared as if history was created for the slaves throughout the West Indies. There would no longer be slaves, but emancipated and free to do as they are pleased. Though amidst all the joy and celebration came the news that complete freedom would not be approved immediately, and the ex-slaves would be apprenticed to their former master for at least four years. However, under this new apprenticeship, they were still expected to remain on the plantations and put in like ten hours work per day and absenteeism will result in imprisonment. Thus, this era of apprenticeship was put into place to bridge the gap of slavery and total freedom and will come to an end in 1838, after the Anti Slavery Society following an assessment tour of the West Indian colonies in 1836 which had created another barrage of petitions.
Between 1800 and 1838, the West Indian legislatures lost some of their independence through being forced to accept the eradication of the slave trade and Emancipation. From August 1st, 1834, children under the age of six were freed and handed over to the care of their mothers and those born after this date were free as well. My sugar plantation industry started off much earlier than Trinidad’s industry and it was first introduced by the Dutch along with other crops many years ago. In earlier years my plantation was doing well and sugar cane was significant and was the primary crop thus exports peaked. This system Exports in sugar continued to climb until the industry was crippled by the labour shortage after Emancipation and there was a severe fall in sugar prices and business was starting to become a failure especially the small estates.
January 22nd, 1838, the sugar plantation that I owned, profits began to decrease rapidly because labour was needed for the production of sugar and the problem faced by my plantation at this time was labour. Since slavery was abolished in 1834, there was an increase in the price of slaves for my plantation and this caused an uncompetitive rise in the price of sugar. I hired some ex slaves that was willing to work at this time in Speyside Tobago, which they was paid in return, but, the wages was tallied for two thirds of the entire cost for production. Some of these slaves never report back to work, instead they started to plant crops on their own on land that they got for themselves. This caused a major reduction in labour again on my plantation as labourers did not want to continue working after getting paid. I somehow managed with great difficulty to keep exporting sugar cane and maintained a relationship with the Caribbean islands nearby and the few workers that remained on the plantation worked very hard to ensure that this plantation was striving.
January 27th, 1838 at Speyside Tobago, my plantation faced another problem that was more difficult to get over that the shortage of labourers. I was lacking funds since two thirds was allocated for the labourers only. Not only I needed funds to pay the labourers but also needed equipments that will help save labour so that the labourers was not over-worked. For three months I struggled with lack of resources so the labourers had to used old techniques for the production of sugar cane. This leave my workers extremely exhausted as I was unable to afford to get machineries and proper equipments that will assist them with their daily tasks. This lead to a couple more labourers not turning up for work the following day leaving a lot of strain and workload on the other labourers. I started to become frustrated since I had little funds and filled with debts and this also forced a lot of other planters to leave production because they were drowning in debts. I felt like giving up but my dedicated workers gave me a ray of hope everyday that went by to continue with the production of sugar cane with the hope that prices will one day increase.
February 03rd 1838, I was faced with another challenge at my plantation, I had no machineries to use on the plantation. I needed a steam mill for the production of sugar cane but because I am in so much debt I am unable to afford the proper equipments. The little equipments that I have on the plantation labourers abuse and destroy the plantation equipments and I end up in more expense which I cannot afford presently.

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Imagine that you are a plantation owner in Tobago. (2019, Jul 18). Retrieved September 25, 2020, from https://midwestcri.org/imagine-that-you-are-a-plantation-owner-in-tobago/

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