Abolition of Slavery
The abolition of slavery in the Caribbean was the result of a number of factors in and outside of the area. Besides economic prosperity for the individual slaveholder and his country, the brutality of slavery gave rise to many revolts. The European colonial powers had to continually provide more military assistance to the plantation owners, which meant a considerable financial drain. Additionally, there were plantation owners who wished to have more freedom in how they conducted their business, and some wanted total independence from the colonial powers.
Meanwhile, the colonial rulers were in constant competition with each other, and they knew this factor added to the reality of maintaining the plantation system and quelling slave revolts would in time prove too much to bear. The possibility of the revolts one day being successful was very great given that by the 1800s, on many islands, the slaves greatly outnumbered the Whites.
In 1803 the worst fears of the plantation owners were realized when a series of revolts on Haiti led to the island gaining independence from France in 1804.
Additionally, the invention of machinery to speed up sugar cultivation made vast numbers of slaves unnecessary.
Accompanying these realities were increasing feelings in Europe that slavery was wrong and that it should be abolished. Eventually, most Caribbean countries were free of slavery by 1848. Spain, however, did not finally end slavery in Puerto Rico and Cuba until the last half of the 19th century (see above for dates).
abolition of slavery the plantation owners and the
colonial rulers no longer had to
worry about the diversion of money and lives to ongoing
struggles against men who wanted to be free.
Independence, though, was out of the question
colonies, even with the abolition of slavery and the
former slaves now being paid workers, were a source of
Today, some Caribbean islands are still ruled by
the United States, England, France, or the Netherlands.