Supposed disturbances from the newly freed people on Grand Turk had lead to troops being sent, the day of #Emancipation, 1st August 1834, went off without a hitch…..
From commonly held folklore it is believed that the #EmancipationAct was announced from the balcony of the #OddfellowsLodge at the junction of Market Street and Front Street.The plot of land in front of the #Oddfellows Lodge was where the salt was deposited while waiting for shipping and where slaves congregated to unload, bag or move the salt to the ships waiting at the Government Wharf. In truth the Oddfellows Lodge would be the ideal location for the Emancipation Act to be read out, and whether it was read from the upstairs window, in front of the building or near to it does not really matter – it matters that the act was read out to the people who needed to hear it most. However, between 1834 and 1838 little changed for most slaves. An Apprenticeship system was introduced and had three main aims: to act as an easy transition from slavery to freedom, to provide a labour supply to the former slave owners and to assist the slaves in understanding their responsibilities as free people.On 1st August 1838 the apprenticeship scheme was officially concluded. In the Caicos Islands the former slaves were allowed to work plots of land whilst in the Turks Islands they could now work for shares in the ponds or as employees. If they were employed their wages consisted of food, three suits of clothing annually, medical attention and some money, but this required signing an annual contract which many were unwilling to do, preferring daily or weekly hire for which they were paid cash. This had disadvantages as they had no income in bad periods or when salt wasn’t in season. However, some united and worked their shares in the ponds.Following the abolition of slavery it was clear that the salt pond owners would not be able to meet the wage bills of the newly freed slaves. To this end new production methods were sought. There was little that could be done, but wherever they could remove the need for labour they did so. The labour intensive techniques were replaced with mechanical solutions…….even on the Islands….freedom…..wasn’t…..free !!!!