Built in 1831 under the governance of Governor Sir Lewis Grant, the Treasury building housed both the Treasury and the Government Rum Bond. Under Sir Lewis Grant’s administration, part of the building also functioned as his home making it a Government House. The Treasury building is not only historic for standing on the same spot since 1831 but it was here that the Emancipation Proclamation was read on August 1st 1834 by Governor, Sir George Hill. But while this Proclamation marked the abolition of slavery, all the formerly enslaved, except children under the age of 6, were declared to be ‘apprentices,’ for six years, obligated to work for their former owners without wages for three-quarters of the defined work week. In reaction, thousands of the enslaved stormed into Port of Spain and gathered in front of the Treasury Building to protest being given “apprentice” status, rather than full freedom from slavery. There were protests and rioting for about a week as they were not prepared to wait until 1840 for full freedom: “Pas de six ans!”The militia was called out and over 50 were sentenced to floggings and in some cases, jail.
Full emancipation came four years later on August 1, 1838. On August 1, 1985, Trinidad and Tobago became the first country in the world to declare a national holiday to commemorate the abolition of slavery.
Brereton, B. Emancipation in Trinidad, UWI, 2007.
Springer, P.E. African Heritage Sites in Trinidad and Tobago, Ministry of National Diversity and
Social Integration, 2014.