At the stroke of midnight, slaves of the British empire became legally free. However, the freedom ended up changing very little. Previous slave owners received compensation, but ex-slaves received nothing; left with no valuables and no where to live, the vast majority of ex-slaves still had no choice but to work on plantations. Wages were low, and ex-slaves now had to worry about paying taxes and rent. Ex-slaves were now expected to abide by the harsh new labour laws, and prisons were built to punish those who didn't. Participants in uprisings were now executed for their crimes.