Book by Robin Blackburn p. 432. A planter on the north shore once heard a critical piece of news from Kingston before the mail arrived and surmised there must have been “some unknown mode of conveying intelligence.”. But enslaved people in 1830s Jamaica had already figured it out. In this way, and within one of the most repressive societies on earth, he built a connected network of strangers that stretched 70 miles in all directions. They were those with seemingly the least incentive to rebel because they enjoyed the most perquisites and avoided the whipping customarily dealt out to field hands. When Burchell and Knibb described how badly they were treated by the colonial militias, the House of Commons expressed their outrage that white planters could have tarred and feathered white missionaries. Samuel Sharpe died on the gallows before he saw it come to pass. They used a sophisticated network of deck hands, house servants, traveling Bible teachers, and cargo ship stevedores to pass along messages. This messianic vision of liberty, accessible to everyone, was not dissimilar to the collectivist ideals touted 40 years later by the Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, who exulted, “In Moscow from a sea of blood and flame the constellation of the revolution will rise, high and beautiful, and will become the guiding star for the good of all liberated mankind.” Martin Luther King, Jr., an admirer of Gandhi, also advanced a message of Christian love and justice that cut across racial lines, was easy to communicate, and proved difficult to refute. The Black Regiment, a group ... 32 Reckord, “The Jamaica Slave Rebellion of 1831,” 124-125. Emancipation Rebellion: Lessons from Jamaica's Sam Sharpe War of 1831! The enslaved people of Jamaica were some of the most abused and powerless people on the globe in 1831. Then, on the night of December 27, 1831, “the business” opened. Most were illiterate. Samuel Sharpe had been permitted to travel between plantations for the ostensible reason of teaching Bible lessons and leading small worship services. [9], On December 31, the colonial authorities instituted martial law. (Optional) Attach an image to your letter. The relative independence of Black deacons facilitated slaves taking greater ownership over their religious life, including reinterpretations of Baptist theology in terms of their experience (for example, they placed an emphasis on the role of John the Baptist, sometimes at the expense of Jesus. “The slaves must be sooner or later set at freedom,” editorialized the Morning Advertiser in London, “whether it be or whether it be not for their benefit, and the sooner that proper steps are taken for this purpose, so much the better.”. [2] Compared with their Presbyterian, Wesleyan, and Moravian counterparts, Baptist slaves seemed more ready to take action. Heuman, Gad: "A Tale of Two Jamaican Rebellions," in: Short, K.R.M. But the enslaved people in Jamaica still revered his name and believed him to be their friend. One of the last leaders of the rebels, Gardner, surrendered when he heard the Charles Town Maroons had joined the fight against them. Ideas journalism with a head and a heart. Jpeg, PNG or GIF accepted, 1MB maximum. Samuel Sharpe, an educated slave who was also a Baptist deacon, was the moving spirit behind the attempted general strike that became the Christmas Rebellion.. That time of year was less than festive for Jamaica’s enormous slave population, for Saint Nick opened the short window for harvesting the island’s sugar cane. Field hands typically occupied small huts, but those in senior labor roles tended to have frame houses. They also thought that the King's men would enforce the order and discontent escalated among slaves when the Jamaican governor announced that no emancipation had been granted. Up to 1830 slaves had been allowed three days off work, but in 1831 this was reduced to two days. Some, such as William Knibb and Bleby, were arrested, tarred and feathered, but later released. Jamaica’s enslaved population was among the most abused and powerless on the globe in 1831. As Christmas Day, 1831, fell on a Sunday, the traditional day of rest, Sharpe argued that slaves should have the following Tuesday off work. Along with scripture, Sharpe (one of the few enslaved people on the island who was literate) let his followers in on a secret: The British people across the ocean were agitating to free the enslaved, and the King of England had signed a general “free paper” that was being kept under wraps by the Jamaican sugar barons. The enslaved laborers believed that the work stoppage could achieve their ends alone – a resort to force was only envisaged if violence was used against them. Sharpe, an educated slave who fought for freedom of slaves was born in Jamaica in 1801 in the parish of St. James and grew up in Montego Bay. May 28, 2020, In the summer of 1831, a select group of enslaved people in northwest Jamaica began murmuring to each other about “the business.”. The Jamaican revolution also employed a simple idealism—its leaders understood that, if oppressed people were going to risk their lives, they must be given a vision of a higher purpose that could be phrased in simple terms. Samuel Sharpe used the New Testament, visiting slave villages to preach verses considered too provocative by white missionaries, in particular those that emphasized freedom in Christ. Many runaways remained free and at large when the British parliament passed the Act abolishing slavery in 1833. One such strategy was nonviolence. The first signal fires were lit in the hills above Montego Bay, and soon plantation houses went up in flames across the richest West Indian colony of the British empire. [1] The uprising was led by a black Baptist deacon, Samuel Sharpe and waged largely by his followers. White Jamaica found itself contending with its biggest insurrection ever. With a few months, more than 60,000 enslaved people had heard about the effort, through well-wired plantation networks. Two of those present—Thomas Dove and Robert Gardiner—would become the fiercest fighters against the white volunteer militia once the strike had moved into a less peaceful phase. They constantly lived on the edge of hunger and harsh punishment. Wakeman Trust, London. “The Christmas Uprising” in Jamaica was a groundbreaking action and a model; its enslaved leaders anticipated the methods of later revolutionary movements—from the Irish Republican Army to Gandhi’s struggle against the British, from the French underground fight against the Nazis to the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. [2][3]), Thomas Burchell, a missionary in Montego Bay, returned from England following Christmas vacation. When the army regulars were besieged by the rebels at Maroon Town, the Accompong Maroons relieved them, killing more rebels, and capturing scores of them, including another of Sharpe's deputies, Dehany. In 1918, Mary Turner’s Brutal Murder Changed the Politics of Lynching in America. [4], After the rebellion, property damage was estimated in the Jamaican Assembly summary report in March 1832 at £1,154,589 (equaling roughly £52,000,000 in modern terms). American colonial resistance to British rule was backed by Boston’s richest men. 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