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ID #5546


The Bahamas never had the large-scale plantations found elsewhere except for the brief period from about 1785 to 1805 when American loyalists tried to raise cotton. Bahamian slaves more often labored on small farms or as domestic servants; they were also used in construction, wrecking, and producing salt. Traders working ON THE COAST brought slaves from Africa to the West Indies; those shipped to The Bahamas were usually sold at Nassau's VENDUE HOUSE on Bay Street. On small farms the owner often supervised the daily chores himself instead of employing a DRIVER. The portion of land that each slave was assigned to work constituted his or her TASK, which came to be used as a unit to measure land. In return, slaves received their SATURDAY ALLOWANCE of staple foods and time to tend NEGRO GROUNDS for their own use. Disobedience could be punished by confinement in a SOLITAIRE.

The end of slavery in the Bahamas began with the failure of the loyalist cotton plantations in the early 1800's. On their death or departure, owners often left their land to the former slaves as GENERATION LAND or COMMONAGE LAND. SLAVERY-TIME ended on August 1, 1834 with a transitional period of apprenticeship called the THREE DAYS, which lasted another four years. The anniversary of this emancipation has been commemorated ever since as AUGUST EVE, a joyful celebration of freedom. See Albury 1975:113 ff.

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Last update: 2013-03-22 01:07
Author: Holm and Shilling, DBE, 1982
Revision: 1.7

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Added at: 2015-10-09 04:05