The Christmas Rebellion of 1831. 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. French Resistance operatives in World War II famously kept themselves in small clusters to avoid mass arrest, and recruited only one or two people at a time, using a case officer who did not know the central command. "The Jamaican Slave Rebellion of 1831". The rebellion was brutally crushed, but over time, the rebellion had a significant impact - and two years later in … The Christmas Rebellion of 1831 was the last big fight against slavery in Jamaica. Samuel Sharpe was hung after the rebellion. [4], Led by 'native' Baptist preacher, Samuel Sharpe, enslaved black workers demanded more freedom and a working wage of "half the going wage rate"; they took an oath to stay away from work until their demands were met by the plantation owners. What Does War Look Like in the Cyber Age? And not just at advancing freedom. Yet even in this isolated atmosphere of extreme deprivation, they developed durable strategies for a politically successful revolution. Few had ever seen anything but their owner’s plantation. Anxiety, Defiance, and Refuge in Immigrant Los Angeles. One of the last leaders of the rebels, Gardner, surrendered when he heard the Charles Town Maroons had joined the fight against them. The Arts Don’t Need New Audiences. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. The value of elite support is an enduring lesson of revolution. They used a sophisticated network of deck hands, house servants, traveling Bible teachers, and cargo ship stevedores to pass along messages. Just as Gandhi knew that British abuses would not last forever under the scrutiny of outside public opinion, Sharpe was also aware of a larger world that might sympathize with his cause. Include your name and daytime phone number, and a link to the article you’re responding to. Punishment for slaves in the 1830/1831 Slave Rebellion in Jamaica led by the National Hero Samuel Sharpe. The most critical piece of information of the early uprising, however, could not have been more visible: the first signal fire lit at Kensington Estate on the night of December 27, 1831. No paywall. 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. [8], Grignon led the militia against the rebels at Belvedere estate, but he was forced to retreat, leaving the rebels in command of the rural areas of the parish of St James. Finally, the Jamaican rebels were astonishingly good at the secret sharing of intelligence, and they often knew about troop movements, government decrees, and even international news before their white masters heard about it. The rebellion involved some 50,000 slaves and the inquisition that followed resulted in the execution of approximately 500 slaves, including Sam Sharpe. This he did, but he also appointed cell leaders who appointed their own small groups. Because of his intelligence and leadership qualities, Sam Sharpe became a “daddy”, or leader of the native Baptists in Montego Bay. Yet the “elites” were also best positioned to recruit followers because they were trusted both by laborers on their watch and by white guardians of the sugar estates. Samuel Sharpe was the main instigator of the 1831 Slave Rebellion, which began on the Kensington Estate in St. James and which was largely instrumental in bringing about the abolition of slavery. They Need Communities. It became the largest slave uprising in the British West Indies,lasting 10 days and mobilized as many as 60,000 of Jamaica's 300,000 slave population. Causes. Sam Sharpe The Baptist War, also known as the Christmas Rebellion, the Christmas Uprising and the Great Jamaican Slave Revolt of 1831–32, was an 8-day rebellion that mobilized as many as 60,000 of Jamaica’s 300,000 slave population. Its impact and the public outcry over the terrible retribution that followed were catalysts for the British parliament passing the Abolition Act in 1834. [7], The rebellion exploded on December 27, when slaves set fire to Kensington estate, in the hills above Montego Bay. In January, they even built and staffed an impressive hilltop fortress, designed to repel incursions, called Greenwich Hill, and fought several engagements with British troops. Most were illiterate. He was hanged on May 23, 1832. Sam Sharpe “I would rather die upon yonder gallows, than live in slavery.” Inspirational words from an enslaved man, a Baptist deacon, a freedom fighter and the main instigator of the 1831 Slave Rebellion in Jamaica which was instrumental in bringing about the … As a traveling church deacon, he had access to the newspapers brought by cargo ships and had read about the abolitionist sentiment in Britain. In Jamaica, Sharpe, while insisting on nonviolent methods, also knew he needed a military wing. Sharpe himself told his interrogators he had always been treated kindly by his master and never beaten. The rebellion, after failing, had succeeded. The white ruling class could not help but be intimidated to the point of total confusion. The Baptist War, also known as the Christmas Rebellion, was an eleven-day rebellion that mobilized as many as sixty thousand of Jamaica ’s three hundred thousand slaves in 1831–1832. Samuel Sharpe, a Baptist deacon, was credited as the leader of the 1831 Christmas Rebellion in the western section of the island; which acted as a catalyst for the passage of the Abolition Bill in 1833. [6], It became the largest slave uprising in the British West Indies, mobilizing as many as 60,000 of Jamaica's 300,000 slaves. Great African Slave Revolt of Guamacaro, Matanzas, Slaves and Missionaries: The Disintegration of Jamaican Slave Society, 1787–1834, "An End to Slavery – 1816–1836: Jamaica Reluctantly Makes History by Freeing its Slaves", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Baptist_War&oldid=975845472, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. The chief conspirator of “the business,” an enslaved Baptist deacon named Samuel Sharpe, had insisted the protest would be a peaceful sit-down strike. [16], The planters suspected many missionaries of having encouraged the rebellion. Sharpe’s development of safe houses was also ahead of its time. This was not unlike the system that Nelson Mandela would use in townships all across South Africa in the formative days of the African National Congress. 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. This last part was embroidered. Most were illiterate. The Black Regiment, a group ... 32 Reckord, “The Jamaica Slave Rebellion of 1831,” 124-125. Much of the British public was already disgusted by slavery—the price of maintaining it seemed to be endless wars overseas—and after the Jamaica rebellion, political pressure built. Why We’re Still Reckoning With Japanese American Internment. [5] Sharpe was the inspiration for the rebellion, and was nicknamed "Daddy" Sharpe. [17], As a result of the Baptist War, hundreds of slaves ran away into the Cockpit Country in order to avoid being forced back into slavery. As Christmas Day, 1831, fell on a Sunday, the traditional day of rest, Sharpe argued that slaves should have the following Tuesday off work. by Tom Zoellner | Then, on the night of December 27, 1831, “the business” opened. 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. To mention the fledgling enterprise in the presence of a white master was a ticket to torture and likely death by hanging, so everyone took precautions to swear new recruits to secrecy. Colonel William Grignon of the militia was an attorney who ran several estates, including one at Salt Spring, where a series of incidents in December were the sparks for the uprising. Samuel Sharpe, or Sharp (1804 – 23 May 1832), also known as Sam Sharpe, was an enslaved Jamaican man who was the leader of the widespread 1832 Baptist War slave rebellion (also known as the Christmas Rebellion) in Jamaica. The uprising was led by a black Baptist deacon, Samuel Sharpe and waged largely by his followers. Sharpe was hanged on May 23, 1832 for his role in the rebellion. This effectively ended slavery in the island. Jpeg, PNG or GIF accepted, 1MB maximum. 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. Samuel Sharpe had been permitted to travel between plantations for the ostensible reason of teaching Bible lessons and leading small worship services. We may edit your letter for length and clarity and publish it on our site. [13], The rebellion was quickly suppressed by British forces. His military commanders were mainly literate slaves, like him, and they included Johnson, a carpenter called Campbell from York estate, a waggoner from Greenwich estate named Robert Gardner, Thomas Dove from Belvedere estate, John Tharp from Hazlelymph estate, and George Taylor, who, like Sharpe, was a deacon in Burchell's chapel. Sharpe, a Baptist preacher, was literate, a strong speaker… 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. One such strategy was nonviolence. Sam Sharpe: Jamaica's National Hero - Glasshouse Middle East The Baptist War, also known as the Sam Sharpe Rebellion, the Christmas Rebellion, the Christmas Uprising and the Great Jamaican Slave Revolt of 1831–32, was an eleven-day rebellion that started on 25 December 1831 and involved up to 60,000 of the 300,000 slaves in Jamaica. A plan of passive resistance was developed in order to force the hands of the planters. (Optional) Attach an image to your letter. At times, slaves were executed for quite minor offenses (one recorded execution was for the theft of a pig; another, a cow). After the rebellion, an estimated 310 to 340 slaves were killed through "various forms of judicial executions". Their only weapons were machetes and rocks. Sharpe created a ritual called “taking the swear” in which new recruits would promise on the Bible to sit down after Christmas and not work. 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. The Christmas Rebellion, also known as the Baptist War and the Christmas Uprising, was a slave rebellion led by Samuel Sharpe in Jamaica which started on Christmas Day in 1831. Sharpe and his congregation decided that after Christmas day, 1831, they would cease to work as slaves. The rebellion’s end would not be a lasting defeat. 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. He would appear at certain homes unexpectedly, a step ahead of the state police. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our privacy and cookie policy. 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. In December 1831, Sharpe began a protest after his belief that the British parliament had granted freedom to Jamaica but the local planters had ignored it. Sam Sharpe led the 1831 Christmas Rebellion in Jamaica, which broke the back of chattel slavery in Jamaica and eventually led to the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of slaves in Jamaica and the wider Western Hemisphere. The National Hero was among the more than 500 slaves who lost their lives for participating in Jamaica’s first organized industrial action, commonly referred to as the ‘Christmas Strike of 1831’ and ‘The Sam Sharpe Rebellion’. Every Jamaican plantation had a section the white ruling class called the Negro Village: a “main street” of individual houses occupied by enslaved people. In 1918, Mary Turner’s Brutal Murder Changed the Politics of Lynching in America. 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. Painting by Adolphe Duperly depicting the Roehampton Estate in St. James, Jamaica, being destroyed by fire during the uprising. Ideas journalism with a head and a heart. Many of the Baptist ministry expected that he would return with papers for emancipation from the king, William IV. “He put a number of questions to us and then gave us a briefing about what he had been doing outside the country and then discussed the tasks that lay ahead,” recalled one man who met Mandela secretly at a house in Durban in 1962. “When, however, the shades of night descended, and the buildings on the side of those beautiful mountains, which form the splendid panorama around Montego Bay, were burning, the spectacle was awfully grand.”, News that such a conspiracy could have been so widespread landed with explosive force in Britain. In other words, the ways of resistance are timeless. Samuel Sharpe became a Jamaican national hero as he led the island's slaves in a rebellion against the overseers and sugar plantation owners. The Palestinian Liberation Organization and Ireland’s Sinn Fein are the most well-known examples of this “arrows and olive branch” approach. [10] Sir Willoughby Cotton, who commanded the British forces, then summoned the Jamaican Maroons of Accompong Town to help suppress the rebellion in the second week of January. Samuel Sharpe, or Sharp (1804 – 23 May 1832), also known as Sam Sharpe, was an enslaved Jamaican who was the leader of the widespread 1831-2 Baptist War slave rebellion (also known as the Christmas Rebellion) in Jamaica. The Maroons were only successful in apprehending a small number of these runaway slaves. Jamaica’s enslaved population was among the most abused and powerless on the globe in 1831. Wakeman Trust, London. Led by 'native' Baptist preacher, Samuel Sharpe, blacks demanded more freedom and a working wage of "half the going wage rate", and promised the pastor not to return to work until their demands were met by the plantation owners. His Christian beliefs were of the pacifist kind and he repeatedly told his followers not to harm anyone. Is Empathy the 20th Century’s Most Powerful Invention? The 1831 rebellion … [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). Some, such as William Knibb and Bleby, were arrested, tarred and feathered, but later released. No partisan hacks. It took five weeks for a British military crackdown to restore quiet. The 1831 Christmas Rebellion, also called the Baptist War or Sam Sharpe’s Rebellion, was a nine day confrontation between the enslaved black population of Western Jamaica and white colonialist powers, as well as a turning point in the development of Jamaican society. The Government in England knew that the slaves would not put up with slavery any more. The weeklong Christmas Rebellion, which began on Kensington Estate on December 27, 1831, and engulfed much of the Montego Bay region, was the most serious slave revolt to rock colonial Jamaica. 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