The Slavery Abolition Act received royal assent on August 28, 1833.
The act, however, did not immediately grant full freedom to the enslaved. It stipulated a six-year transitional period for apprenticeship, during which formerly enslaved individuals would continue working for their former masters without wages.
The end of slavery marked the beginning of Indian indentured servitude.
The first Indian indentured servants arrived in Guyana on May 5, 1838, and 3 months later on August 1, 1838, full emancipation was realized in most British colonies.
The first two indentured ships were the Whitby and the Hesperus, carrying a total of 396 individuals, often referred to as "The Gladstone Coolies." (John Gladstone arranged for the import of these Indian indentured servants). The majority of these individuals were men, with only 22 women in the group.
On August 25, 2023, the descendants of John Gladstone publicly apologized for their family's involvement in slavery and indentureship in Guyana.
At a launch event for the University of Guyana's International Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies, Charles Gladstone expressed deep shame and regret over his ancestor's actions and offered an apology to the descendants of the enslaved and indentured in Guyana.
However, the apology was met with criticism from some, who called for reparations and immediate action. The Gladstone family has pledged to support the university department and called for discussions on reparations between the UK and the Caribbean Community.
By Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq. | This content is copyright of West Indian Diplomacy, LLC and may not be reproduced without permission.
She runs West Indian Diplomacy, a Caribbean blog aimed at promoting West Indian history and business in the global marketplace. Melissa has been an attorney for over 10 years. She currently focuses on trademark registration, trademark searches, and office actions. She also has extensive legal experience in the areas of trademarks, copyrights, contracts, and business formations. She owns her own Trademark Law Firm that is virtually based out of Fort Lauderdale.
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