Emancipation has been defined as the pursuit, expansion, and security of freedom. I believe that most people including myself would say successful emancipation has taken place when freedom has been pursued, expanded upon, and secured. What makes peoples views of emancipation different is not its definition, but what is freedom? Freedom shows a lot of faces throughout the times and environments studied in both the Haitian and Jamaican Revolutions. Freedom for myself is a peace of mind.
I feel that a person who wakes up with a peace of mind has experienced successful emancipation. Successful emancipation does not mean that everything is perfect and the way it should be. Perfection does not exist in this world; everything has its flaws and downfalls including emancipation, justice, and freedom. I think we all work towards the day we have established who we are and find comfort with our role in society. I also feel it is hard for us to be as thoughtful and passionate about emancipation as the slaves of these times were. Our minds can't conceive the true feeling of what is like to be treated like something other than a human being.
I feel our lifestyles are far beyond a slave's view of what emancipation is. Slaves in both Haiti and Jamaica did not rebel in order to live a lifestyle we live today. They were willing to settle for far less than we have today. Slaves were willing to die in order to experience what they felt was successful emancipation. Successful emancipation for slaves was not be confounded to land or owned by whites. Slaves simply wanted the opportunity to work their own land, start families, and enjoy life.
Although most people in Haiti and Jamaica of African descent were slaves, there was a small minority of free people, which consisted of mulatto's and free blacks. Even though these free people witnessed first hand the experienced of slavery the compassion and empathy for it was definitely disappointing. Their understanding of emancipation was totally different than that of slaves. The free people already experienced and had what slaves desired and viewed as emancipation. Free people had their own land to farm, build houses on, and start families. Thus giving them a totally different perspective on emancipation and freedom.
Despite free people had their own land, they still were not close to sharing the same rights as the whites. Neither free blacks nor mulatto's were able to vote, hold office, and many other aspects of being equals in a society. Emancipation for free people was to experience and share equal rights with whites. They wanted to pursue, expand, and secure their rights in society. Free people wanted to break the chains of inferiority to whites, and be treated as equals.
Haiti and Jamaica were colonies that were filled with turmoil, confusion, tears, and the blood of bondage. Freed people and slaves staked different claims in their pursuit and definition of what freedom was. Slaves in both Haiti and Jamaica ultimately fantasized a life, in which they were no longer confounded to someone's land. A slave's reality was no family and a life that literally worked them to death. The average slave lasted about seven to eight years. Slaves however were powerful in their fight for emancipation.
Since Haiti and Jamaica were islands overpopulated with slaves it gave slaves the ability to be powerful and hard to control in their revolts. Their rebellions damaged the fabric of their society, especially the economy. Often mulatto's and free blacks tried to use slaves power to attain their rights. Slaves of this time were able to find success in a part of the definition of emancipation early on. They found opportunities to rebel and pursue emancipation. They paid a heavy cost for their pursuits, but the point remains they pursued their freedom, which is the first step toward emancipation.
After many years of oppression and violence they finally got what they wanted, emancipation. Haiti and Jamaica both eventually abolished slavery and former slaves were able to have the opportunities to own their own land, which was successful emancipation to them. Blacks, who could not afford land, were able to rent land from people. Although they technically did not own the land for themselves they still were able to experienced freedom because they were not confined to the land.
On the other hand free blacks and mulatto's had a different opinion of emancipation. They already experienced having their own land and place to start a family. They would not be satisfied with just having their own land to work. They wanted to be treated as equals and refused to accept white dominance.
They fought to have equal rights in society that limited them from voting, holding office and much more. Abolishing slavery never seemed to be their focus. Free people wanted to take care of themselves by expanding upon what they are already had. The difference was I don't feel they ever experience the same level of satisfaction of emancipation as slaves.
Their situation did get better, they were allowed the right to vote and even have their say in society. However white dominance was clearly present. Despite their great strides toward equal treatment they still were treated as inferior to whites. They never did share equal rights with whites. Even if free blacks were allowed to hold the same offices whites were able to, they would have to be voted in. Obviously more whites would vote than blacks, which made it extremely difficult and almost impossible to challenge whites for their stake in society.
Their voice was smaller and they did not pose the same threat that slaves did. Slaves had a different mentality everything to gain and nothing to loose. Slave could use their large numbers for violent acts, which always damaged the economy. Free blacks claim to get the right to vote did not effect the economy or kill whites.
Thus free blacks tried to use slaves to excerpt force. Although, free blacks made huge strides they did not achieve successful emancipation as did slaves. In Jamaica, the slave experience and free black experience were a little different. Jamaica was a situation that was not as complex as Haiti, but this is not the point of emancipation. Despite different demographics and slave populations, emancipation was still was non-existent. The fact and focus is that both situations lacked emancipation and blacks fought their way to freedom.
Once again I felt in Jamaica that slaves did achieve their view of emancipation, which is the same as Haiti's slaves. Blacks were eventually able to attain land in Jamaica as well. They were able to establish their own small communities. I believe that Jamaican slaves path to emancipation slightly cost less, but was still an immense struggle, which did end in victory.
However, free blacks in Jamaica never did share true equal rights with the whites of Jamaica. Free blacks that wanted to vote and hold office were a definite minority that had a much smaller voice than slaves wanting their own land. Emancipation was a success for slaves because whites realized in both Jamaica and Haiti that slavery could not work forever. The slaves where the center of the economy for both these colonies. When slaves revolted it destroyed economic growth.
If they continued to keep slaves in harsh conditions then revolting would have continued forever. Eventually the colonies would be destroyed and the ability to produce lots of money demolished. Whites had to free slaves in order to create a stable society and economy. Slaves were depended upon so much that their demands had to be met otherwise the result would be total chaos. Free blacks did not achieve successful emancipation. Despite some did attain political offices and help blacks acquire rights, they still had a long way to go before they were treated as equals.
Free blacks aspired for an emancipation blacks are still surging toward today, which is total equality. Moreover, free blacks did not generate nearly as much money as did slaves. Free black and mulatto's made up a small population could not impact society like slaves could. Free blacks had to rely on the power of slaves to fight their battles. They made many promises to slaves such as freedom in exchange for their revolt services. Free blacks did not have a major influence on the production of money nor could they cause a lot of chaos, which made their voice not as important at that time.
Whites could maintain a society that was not chaotic without equal opportunity for blacks. Therefore free blacks never did conquer their view of emancipation, which was to break political barriers and become equals in society. Despite the times and location people are a part of, people will always desire justice and equality. People will always need to secure freedom in their life. In both Haiti and Jamaica slaves desired their humanity. Their right to work to help better themselves and their family.
What they fought so hard for we know take for granted. Freedom seems so ordinary to a person who has never been confined to anything, but the lack of freedom is worth dying for in order for someone to attain it. Slaves fought to secure freedom knowing that most of them will never experience secure freedom, but they knew eventually someone would secure freedom. Free blacks fought hard to better themselves politically throughout the government, which did create opportunities, but sadly their vision of emancipation never did exist for them.
Blacks never exchanged the same rights as whites. Still today there is a minority of blacks who have a major role in our government as compared to whites. Blacks are able to vote, but far more whites vote than blacks. This leaves us in the same situation free blacks fought against years ago. However, if a person can wake up in the morning and find peace, then they have found successful emancipation..