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This chapter examines the transformations in labor after abolition. It first examines the racial and economic reasons why Antigua, unlike most other British Caribbean colonies, decided to forego the four-year apprenticeship scheme devised to keep enslaved people in a liminal, subservient, and unfree state, and proceed directly to abolition. Then the chapter presents the ways that black working people contested the official version of freedom through informal and often extralegal negotiations with their employers over issues such as wages, work schedules, workplace duties, the labor of women and children, and the pursuit of livelihoods beyond the plantations. Freedpeople’s growing mobility and refashioned work routines prompted planters and lawmakers to respond with severe legal and customary strategies of containment, including the 1834 Contract Act, which tied employment to estate residence, as well as an act in 1836 preventing freedpeople from leaving the island.

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