124 NOVA SCOTIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
merchants of Halifax, while giving expression to their sympathy with any measure for the freedom of Rest Indian bondmen, felt themselves also called upon to assure the British authorities of their belief that the real moral reform aimed at could only be attempted with safety when preceded and attended by education and by a gradual improvement in the laws under which slavery had for generations existed.
In carrying out, nearly ten years later, the policy of emancipation—an experiment fraught with great difficulty from the unwillingness of the planters to adopt it, and with great danger, as they alleged, to their lives and property, from the numbers and temper of the slaves—the Colonial secretary, Lord Stanley, acted in partial harmony with the representations of prominent Halifax merchants. This he did when on introducing a ministerial measure into the British House of Commons on April 23, 1833, he proposed to combine with freedom to every slave in the British colonies an apprenticeship of twelve years, and the payment out of the earnings of the slaves to their masters of the sum of fifteen millions of pounds. The friends of emancipation having remonstrated against these features of the plan, it was finally modified by a reduction of the term of apprenticeship to six years and a provision to pay the masters twenty millions of pounds sterling out of the national treasury. The bill passed the House of Commons August 7, the House of Lords August 2o, and received the royal assent August 28, 1833. The day fixed for emancipation was August t, 1834, and it was left optional with the local legislatures respectively to adopt or reject the system of apprenticeship. Antigua and Bermuda reje-ted that system, while the other Rest India islands adopted it.'
I Theapprentuahip scheme did not woe; wen. In some instancesthe bat legislatures vo!crtarity abolished it. and in t83S• two years before the time of its appointed expiration, it was brought to an end by Act of Parliament.