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Resistance to the status quo

The wide disruptions caused by the vicious outbreak of cholera in Jamaica trickled down into the economy. Majority of the population suffered from poverty following a string of economic fortunes that rendered the island incapable of providing for its poorest populations. The cries of the people, however fell on deaf ears. There needs deemed unimportant by the white plutocracy on the island were wholly ignored. This served as fuel for the already burning flame previously ignited by the ravaging effects of the American Civil War and a drought that crippled the agricultural sector within the island. Thus Jamaica became a prime breeding ground for political uprisings staged by the discontented people. 

One such uprising, The Morant Bay Rebellion, occurring in St. Thomas on October 1865 was instigated by Paul Bogle, a deacon, and George William Gordon (a lawyer who sympathised with the plights of the people) who gave their lives defending the rights of Jamaica’s most unfortunate populations. Bogle and his men after launching several failed campaigns to hold audience with the then governor of Jamaica, Edward John Eyre stormed the Morant Bay Courthouse to have his complaints heard. The rebellion resulted in the loss of thousands of white lives including the custos of the parish. The rebellion was squashed by the governor who dispensed his justice: more than 430 people were executed, hundreds more flogged and their dwellings destroyed. The instigators Paul Bogle and George William Gordon, were hung for inciting rebellion among the disgruntled masses.

Centuries later they were posthumously declared National heroes for their invaluable contribution in aiding Jamaica’s journey to independence.

Subsequently, following the rebellion, Eyre was recalled to England after upgrading the country’s constitution by replacing it with the Crown Colony system of government. Under this system of governance, Jamaica recovered greatly from its previous economic woes, experiencing social, constitutional and economic development, which in turn led to the island achieving political sovereignty.  

The island saw great improvement in their education and health sectors which led to greater provision of social services. Island wide saving bank systems were instituted, irrigation projects initiated, roads, railways and bridges constructed and cable communication with Europe was established in 1859. The upheaval and improvement of the constitution resulted in the moving of Jamaica’s capital from Spanish Town to Kingston in 1872. Additionally, a lands department was organized to sell parcels of government land cheaply to local farmers and the teachers within the island developed unions.

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