Many Jamaicans have never seen or read the Proclamation of Emancipation so I've taken the liberty of placing it below for your perusal.
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By His Excellency Sir Lionel Smith, Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Military Order of the Bath, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Hanoverian Order, a Lieutenant-General in Her Majesty’s Land Forces, and Colonel of the Fortieth Regiment of Foot, Captain-General, Governor in Chief, and Commander of the Forces in and over Her Majesty’s Island Jamaica, and other the Territories thereon depending in America, Chancellor, and Vice Admiral of the same.
In a few days more you will all become Free Labourers — the Legislature of the Island having relinquished the remaining two years of your apprenticeship.
The 1st of August next is the happy day when you will become free — under the same laws as other free men, whether white, black, or coloured. I, as your Governor, give you joy of this great blessing.
Remember that in freedom you will have to depend on your own exertions for your livelihood, and to maintain and bring up your families. You will work for such wages as you can agree upon with your employers. It is their interest to treat you fairly. It is your interest to be civil, respectful, and industrious.
Where you can agree and continue happy with your own masters, I strongly recommend you to remain on those properties on which you have been born, and where your parents are buried. But you must not mistake in supposing that your present houses, gardens, or provision grounds, are your own property. They belong to the proprietors of the estates, and you will have to pay rent for them in money or labour, according as you and your employers may agree together.
Idle people who will not take employment, but go wandering about the country, will be taken up as vagrants, and punished in the same manner, as they are in England.
The ministers of religion have been kind friends to you — listen to them — they will keep you out of troubles and difficulties.
Recollect what is expected of you by the people of England, who have paid such a large price for your liberty.
They not only expect that you will behave yourselves as The Queen’s good subjects, by obeying the laws, as I am happy to say you always have done as apprentices; but that the prosperity of the Island will be increased by your willing labour, greater beyond what it ever was in slavery. Be honest towards all men — be kind to your wives and children — spare your wives from heavy field work, as much as you can — make them attend to their duties at home, in bringing up your children, and in taking care of your stock — above all, make your children attend Divine Service and School.
If you follow this advice, you will, under God’s blessing, be happy and prosperous.
Given under my hands and seal at arms, at Saint Jago de la Vega, this Ninth day of July, in the Second Year of Her Majesty’s Reign. Annoque Dommi, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty-Eight. — Lionel Smith
By His Excellency’s Command, C H Darling, Sec