Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica 1865

[ 1865 ]

In 1865, impoverished peasants on the British island of Jamaica petitioned Queen Victoria (1819-1901) for permission to use government-held lands for planting, but were denied. Discontent centered in the Jamaican parishes of St. Ann and St. Thomas, where a mob of natives stormed and set fire to the courthouse in Morant Bay while the parish council was in session; the chief magistrate and 18 other white persons were killed. Declaring martial law, Jamaica's Governor Edward John Eyre (1815-1901) ruthlessly suppressed the rebellion, one of whose leaders, George William Gordon (d. 1865), a member of the Merchants and Free Persons of Color, was tried, convicted, and executed. Eyre, who had exaggerated the extent of the threat of native rebels to the white planters, induced the Jamaican assembly to vote itself out of existence. In 1866, he was recalled to England, and the British Parliament established Jamaica as a crown colony under a new royal governor.

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