In 1798, the Leeward Islands passed the Amelioration Act. The intent was similar to Barbados’ Consolidated Slave Law in that it was to improve the conditions of slaves. The main difference is that the Amelioration Act proved to be a much more effective and didn’t offer planter-heavy concessions.
TERMS OF THE AMELIORATION ACT
Some of the major terms of the Act involved hits to slave owners for excessive violence and neglect. This was very unusual for its time and as a result, there are few incidents of major punishments under the act. One punishment included compensation for wronged slaves on a very rare occasion death was enforced.
Slave owners were to provide for clothing, food, and basic education. Overall, the Act was meant to keep the social climate calm in the British Caribbean colonies as rebellions began to pop up more frequently. It wasn’t something simply done out of the kindness of legislators’ hearts.
If the planter-centric Consolidated Slave Law didn’t go over with planters, the Amelioration Act was even more unpopular. It was only around for six years and was repealed when the Slave Trade Act of 1807 came into effect. The 1807 Act killed the slave trade in British colonies but allowed the institution to remain in effect until 1833. As a result of the 1807 Act, the protections provided by the Amelioration Act were largely negated.