An anatomy of a slave society in transition : the Virgin Islands, 1807-1864

Smith, Angel

October 2011

Thesis or dissertation

© 2011 Angel Smith. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

This study analyses the process of transition from slavery to freedom in the Virgin Islands’ slave society. It draws on a database of over 9,500 enslaved people of African descent, covering the period 1818 to 1834. Including information on gender, age, births, deaths, runaways, manumissions, and owners of the enslaved, this database allows the most intimate and comprehensive analysis of changes in the social life of the slave population and immediate descendants within any single British Caribbean territory in the age of abolitionism and its aftermath. Few studies in Caribbean history have sought to go beyond the transition from slavery to freedom and more specifically, to explore the impact of the enslaved themselves in shaping their own history during this critical transition. This thesis seeks to do both by re-examining the history of the Virgin Islands from 1807 to 1864, underpinning the argument it presents with data drawn from slave registers, Colonial Office and Parliamentary papers, and other records. It is on these grounds that this thesis makes an original contribution to existing knowledge.

Department of History, The University of Hull
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