Many forget that the Turks and Caicos Islands were once part of the Bahama chain. When the Bahamas gained independence in 1973, Turks and Caicos received their own governor. Over its history, the islands have been under the administration, governed indirectly, through Jamaica, Bermuda as well as the Bahamas.

In August 1838, four years after slave emancipation, but four years into forced indentured servitude called Apprenticeship, the negroes of Turks Island were waiting anxiously for news from the Assembly in Nassau.


13th AUGUST 1838

On August 13th., 1838, a boat landed on the shores of Turks Island. Even as it was approaching the waters edge, not knowing what it might be carrying, word nevertheless spread. If it was what everyone thought it was, many wanted to present to hear the news. Negroes from all over the island came running. Whites, the letter says, observed the goings on from the homes with the aid of telescopes.

What everyone was waiting on was news from Nassau. Everyone was waiting to hear if negroes were now going to free or not. Was the apprenticeship system of indentured servitude for former negro slaves to continue or was it to be stopped.

As the occupants of the boat leapt out into the shallow water, every step of their boots, caused the anxiousness to grow. A packet of letters was handed to a waiting magistrates who stood impatiently on the shore, no doubt under some fine umbrella to protect them the West Indian sun.

The magistrates read the official letters ass fast as they could ensuring that they had the right message and the correct meaning.

Immediately they shouted for all to hear.

The negroes were FREE!

The Apprenticeship System had ended.

(Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England, Saturday 03 November 1838)

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