Troubling Freedom: Antigua and the Aftermath of British Emancipation
“So Them Make Law for Negro, So Them Make Law for Master”: Antigua’s 1831 Sunday Market Rebellion
2015. "“So Them Make Law for Negro, So Them Make Law for Master”: Antigua’s 1831 Sunday Market Rebellion", Troubling Freedom: Antigua and the Aftermath of British Emancipation, Natasha Lightfoot
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This chapter examines Antigua’s 1831 slave rebellion, in which enslaved people protested the outlawing of their Sunday market, due to missionary preoccupation with Sabbath reverence and riots in the capital, St. John’s, and a series of fires across several rural estates. This unfolded in the context of British amelioration, which in 1823 sought to improve colonial slavery by extending material concessions to slaves while requiring their Christian devotion. This chapter investigates why slaves regarded their free time to market, which legislators saw as an unofficial courtesy extended by slave owners, as their legally protected right, worth risking serious punishment to defend. Both slave marketing and this uprising, which occurred three years before legal emancipation in the British colonies, show how slaves’ everyday lives politicized them and reveal that notions of freedom were circulated and contested among enslaved and free communities in Antigua and the broader English Atlantic world well before legal abolition in 1834.