30 June 2006

Good Christians at work

Well, now we know what Christian love means: Threats to involve the Klan, attempts to force conversion, denial of basic constitutional rights.

Sonnet 135

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breast are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked , red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfunes is there more delight
Then in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistess, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

-- William Shakespeare

29 June 2006

the things that lead us to the lie

we fear the sun we fear the rain
we blame the gods we blame other men
we blame everyone except ourselves
our fears lead us away from simple truth

we fear the snow we fear the drought
we blame our neighbours we blame our kids
we blame everyone except ourselves
our fears lead us away from simple truth

we fear the dark we fear the noonday light
we blame our enemies we blame false friends
we blame everyone except ourselves
our fears lead us away from simple truth

we fear the morning we fear the afternoon
we blame our teachers we blame our nurses
we blame everyone except ourselves
our fears lead us away from simple truth

we fear the stranger we fear the unknown
we blame the blacks or else we blame the whites
we blame everyone except ourselves
our fears lead us away from simple truth

we fear the time of war we fear the peace
we blame the warlike men we blame the women
we blame everyone except ourselves
our fears lead us away from simple truth

we fear to live we damned well fear to die
we blame our parents we blame our genes
we blame everyone except ourselves
our fears lead us away from simple truth

28 June 2006


the shape of islands like a long bent arm
with elbow made of tiny bones and hand
brushing the southern continent caressing
the openings of the orinoco like a seasoned
lover or spouse the deep sense of knowing
that comes from long experience the dusky
maid of fevered dreams and earnest hopes
is less a maid than a brown-eyed calculator

just so with these rocks the volcanic and coralline
the shapes created by tectonic forces the fires
and quakes that come and come again with all
the force that winds and rains above combined
to make and remake and destroy and the old woman's
wisdom that says that all has been before and will
again is forgotten till we need most urgently to remember
the fires above and below when they meet are a small
apocalypse and turn the eyes to gods as blind
as the hard rocks they come from but the spray

coming from africa the winds emerging out of europe
the cold out of america they come they go they mark
the times and seasons almost here forgotten
this is no paradise a half-wild garden its fruits as bright
to poison as to feed and yet it calls us it speaks it names
us children and we wary of its anger call it mother
and only monster when its back is turned

27 June 2006


no stink no noise all curtains must be white
and all your lives conducted out of sight
the rules are fixed it must be understood
no fires permitted unless of coal not wood

these are the rules by which you must abide
the laws that come arbitrary as the tide
to make this place seem sanitary clean
and most of all for those above the mean

26 June 2006

world cup 2006

behold the triumphant hero see him come
advancing upon us bearing trini rum

we see him coming on our knees we fall
awaiting arrival of new carnival

this hero comes with honour and with fame
though he has scored no goals and won no game

that he reached germany is his victory
and he proclaims he has made history

and so he has in red and black and white
his little triumph is our great delight

25 June 2006


president bush is
preserving our freedom by
taking it away

this is not a paradox
guantánamo awaits us

and swallowing a whale

and swallowing a whale
Common Sense
John Maxwell
Sunday, June 25, 2006

The whale-killers have a new heroine. She is a a pretty, petite lawyer, Joanne Massiah, a senator in the Antigua Parliament who possesses a sharp mind and an even sharper tongue.

At the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in St Kitts last week, Ms Massiah led the Caribbean delegations in a fierce rhetorical attack on their perceived enemies - countries like Britain, France, the United States, India, Mexico and Brazil. These countries are all opposed to the legalisation of whaling as demanded by Japan and her Caribbean and other allies.

All were tarred by the Caribbean orators with the same brush. They were perceived to be racist, imperialist and dismissive of the cultures of small nations. The Brazilians and their 'like-minded' friends protested time and again about the language used to describe them, but this did not stop the fiercely eloquent Caribbean partisans.

They were roused to particular fury when the black delegate from Martinique, Mme Grandmaison, announced that Martinique and Guadeloupe, part of France, would establish a whale sanctuary in their exclusive economic zones, bordering on several Eastern Caribbean nations.

According to Barbadian journalist Tony Best, Senator Massiah had become known at the IWC "for using the most eloquent of phrases and a calm tone to get her points across; so much so that even opponents of sustainable use of the world's marine resources, a policy she champions, felt compelled the other day in Basseterre to cheer her intervention, not because they agreed with her arguments but because of the sheer force of her words and their own inability to muster a comeback".

The problem was that the like-minded nations saw no point in making a comeback against arguments which were largely irrelevant, if often entertaining and provoking and not at all calm.

It was odd to hear Senator Massiah, who is alleged to be a vegetarian, defending the sacred right of people to eat whales, justifying the Biblical warning about "straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel" or in this case, a whale.
But neither Miss Massiah nor her associates will be legally able to eat whale meat just yet.

That is despite the widely proclaimed victory of the whale-killing lobby on the second to last day of the conference. Many of the world's leading news agencies were hornswoggled by the whale-killers' propaganda. Interpress services reported:
"TOKYO, Jun 20 (IPS) - A closely contested vote on Sunday that gave whaling countries led by Japan, an edge over opponents, has been hailed here as a landmark in turning the tide against an international ban and boosting the domestic fisheries industry."

Since IPS was writing from Japan, one may forgive them, but the Independent of London also got it wrong, as did several other reporters who listened too closely to the whale-killers' anti-siren songs.

What happened on Sunday was a masterpiece in mischief and double-dealing. The Caribbean delegates suggested that it would be nice to have a terminal "declaration" that everyone could sign on to. It would be a "Declaration of St Kitts" in the style of other international meetings, representing a consensus. It would, the 'like-minded' countries were told, be non-controversial and harmless.

When it came to the floor, after at least one revision, the Declaration was a straightforward denunciation of the anti-legalisation group. Some countries protested at the deception and at the presentation of the declaration as a resolution. It was however accepted by the chair as a resolution and voted on.
The result, the whale-killers won by one vote.

But the Declaration was meaningless. All it represented was Japan's ability to get its automatic voting bloc in line. The real result of the conference was contained in four policy resolutions, all of which were lost by the whale-killers. And, even if they had won those votes, it would have changed nothing, since overturning the moratorium on whaling requires a three-quarters majority which the Japanese clearly cannot muster without recruiting another dozen or so destitute nations to vote on their behalf.

There was an interesting sidelight to this recuitment. People witnessed a Japanese delegate rushing to the Secretariat to hand over piles of cash to register the late-coming delegate from Togo, whose vote gave the whale-killers their 'victory' in the Declaration of St Kitts.

It is the destitution of the Third World which should have been the real concern of the whale-killing lobby.
The Caribbean delegates, having declared war on the anti-legalisation group, had one more trick up their sleeves.

According to another resolution by St Kitts, the Commission was urged to note "the urgent nature of the economic difficulties of the Government of St Kitts and Nevis resulting from the closure of its sugar industry and the failed materialisation of promised financial aid" and to realise that St Kitts, unable to meet some of the financial obligations related to the hosting of the conference, asked the Commission for a grant of £385,406 from the IWC to St Kitts. That is J$46 million or EC$15 million. The amount was required to "meet some of the financial obligations related to the hosting of the IWC".

The St Kitts request would effectively more than double the IWC's normal cost for holding its annual meetings.
As someone unkindly pointed out, St Kitts had competed vigorously and successfully against La Rochelle, France, for the chance to hold this meeting.

As it happened, the vote on increasing the subsidy was a tie, so St Kitts will have to appeal either to Caricom or to its Japanese friends for the money.
It is possible, I believe, that notwithstanding St Kitts' position on whaling they might have got the money had the Caribbean spokesmen not been so gratuitously offensive to the like-minded group, who, I beg you to remember, includes such as India, Mexico and Brazil.

The urge to eat whale meat or to be allowed to slaughter whales comes out of a misconception. The Caribbean and Pacific clients of Japan appealed piteously for the legalisation of whaling to restore the rights of local communities to their coastal resources. "We want to eat, we want to survive," one South Pacific delegate whined.

The problem is that whales are not the coastal resource of any nation. They roam the oceans without passports and are part of the natural heritage of life. Despite this, the Japanese insist on their right to 'scientific whaling' - an enterprise, they say, which will give them information allowing them to harvest whales more sustainably.

Japanese Sustainability

Japanese ideas of sustainability may be gauged from the following paragraph, taken from the Japanese's own report on one of their scientific expeditions - JARPN II.
"Based on results from the two-year feasibility study carried out in 2002 and 2003 the coastal component was revised to be conducted twice a year and to sample 60 common minke whales in each spring and autumn.

"During the whale sampling, almost 5,250 nautical miles were surveyed, 202 schools (205 individuals) of common minke whales were detected and 60 animals were caught (23 males and 37 females). Of the males eight were sexually mature while 14 of the females had attained sexual maturity and all but one was pregnant."

We are talking about sustainability, which means using resources without wasting them, making sure that the species will continue to reproduce and maintain itself. Sustainability must clearly include allowing the species time to breed and allowing the young to come to maturity and breed. How can it be sustainable to kill 15 immature males, nearly two-thirds of the male catch?

But worse follows: only 14 of the females were sexually mature - just over one in three, and all of the mature females, except for ONE, were pregnant.

The Japanese have been "scientifically" slaughtering whales now for two decades. Is it possible that after that period of scientific enquiry and thousands of whales killed, they still cannot tell the difference between mature and immature whales, or more important, between mature and immature females, and most important and baffling of all, between pregnant and fallow females?

We have to find something more expressive than 'boggle' for the contortions the mind undergoes on apprehending these facts, provided by the Japanese themselves.

The IWC forbids the killing of whale calves and their nursing mothers, except that this is how they kill whales in Becquia, St Vincent. But Becquia is allowed just two whales a year on the ground of 'aboriginal tradition' going back all of 148 years.
The Japanese have been whaling for millennia, and began factory ship whaling relatively recently, to supplement diets deficient in protein after the debacle of the Second World War.

The Japanese are among the richest nations on earth, and no longer need whale meat. Some of what they catch goes for pet food, some is warehoused. The real reason for their intransigence on whaling is to finesse the possibility of restrictions on fishing.

The Japanese and many European countries and the Canadians have already strip-mined the ocean, vacuuming it of several species including the Canadian cod. Now, some of these same nations send out pirate vessels to steal fish from the Atlantic fisheries of West African nations.

Recently Greenpeace has been helping these West African nations defend their local marine assets and have helped arrest European pirate ships and confiscated their cargo for the benefit of the plundered nations. Some of these same plundered nations want to terminate Greenpeace's 'Observer' status at the IWC, while neglecting to lobby on behalf of their own fisheries, which produce food their people actually eat. Instead, they are swinging along with Japan, advancing arguments which are eventually counter-productive to their own real interest.

In the Caribbean, it is clear that the people of the islands do not agree with their politicians and bureaucrats in supporting the legalisation of whaling. As I reported last week, in Miss Massiah's Antigua, 80 per cent of the people polled disagreed with their government and there were absolute majorities against whaling in St Kitts and St Lucia. Only in Grenada did whale-killing sentiments come close to prevailing with 40 per cent for and 39 per cent against legalisation.

Curiously, in St Kitts, the people we met were either against whaling or non-committal, saying they didn't know enough to express an opinion. In a highly literate, extremely rational population it was strange therefore that many people did not wish to be quoted and appeared to be afraid of something when I spoke to them.

Perhaps it was my face that frightened them.
We will probably never know. But I wonder where St Kitts is going to find EC$15 million. Will Caricom oblige? And if it does, will the like-minded nations regard that as an endorsement of the behaviour of their smaller brethren?

One of the Eastern Caribbean delegates told me that part of their problem was that the Marriott hotel had overcharged them for the conference facilities. I would have thought that such a modern, God-fearing company as the Marriott should find this particular whale a lot easier to swallow than the people of St Kitts or of Caricom.

Or perhaps Mr Sanford, Antigua's resident Texas millionaire, might oblige?

Copyright©2006 John Maxwell

24 June 2006

I am 31% Tortured Artist.
I know Art, I just don't live it.
I have some artistic ability, but it is probably a hobby and doesn't drive my life into a dark abysmal hole were I am alone and against the world.

The Creation of the Plantation Polity

The Creation of the Plantation Polity

The arrival of the British[1] invasion force in 1655 smashed the Spanish colony even more thoroughly than the Spanish had exterminated the Taino. Five years of armed struggle followed the arrival of Admiral Penn and General Venables at Passage Fort on 10 May (Old Style) 1655. The last Spanish governor, Cristóbal Arnaldo Yssasi fled the island on 9 May (New Style) 1660,[2] and a decade later, in the Treaty of Madrid, Spain formally ceded Jamaica to the English, without, however, mentioning the island’s name.[3]

British rule on the island began as a military dictatorship. This was, quite simply, an extension of the rule of Britain by Cromwell’s major-generals. While Cromwell had sent out Commissioners to govern the island, the deaths of these led to its being administered by courts martial presided by the commander of the British forces in the island, Colonel Edward D’Oyley.[4]

The restoration of the monarchy in 1660 led to D’Oyley becoming the first civil governor of the island, advised by a council of twelve.[5] The next year, King Charles II sent out Lord Windsor as governor, with a proclamation encouraging the settlement of the island and extending to English settlers the rights of free denizens of England. Windsor was authorized to call a representative assembly to legislate for the island.[6]

In January, 1664, the first elected House of Assembly was convened. The basic political structure of the ‘Old Representative System’[7] was in place. This system of government was called ‘an epitome of England’s’ by the eighteenth century historian Edward Long, who considered the governor, privy council, and assembly to parallel the King, Lords, and Commons in the mother country.[8]

The system contained three elements: a governor, appointed by the Crown, with executive responsibility for the defense and administration of the colony, a Privy Council which acted both as the upper house of the legislature and as the governor’s cabinet, and a House of Assembly, elected by the freeholders, with the power of the purse but without responsibility for administration. This crude separation of powers implicitly contained the seeds of tension between governor and assembly, and the legislative history of Jamaica for the two centuries the system endured could have been described in just that way.[9]

Unlike presidents of the United States,

a Governor could, as a last resort, prorogue or dissolve an Assembly, though here he ran the risk of not being voted the money necessary for running his government.[10]

The governor was backstopped by the Crown’s power to disallow legislation passed on the island and signed by the governor. Indeed, governors might sign legislation and send it on to Whitehall with recommendations for its disallowance.[11]

One historian of British West Indian politics asserted that the system could not have functioned without difficulties ‘if Governors and Assemblymen had all been the most upright and disinterested of mankind.’[12] Wrong went on to note:

In Jamaica [the Old Representative System’s] impracticability is seen most clearly. Between 1702 and 1711 the Assembly was dissolved eight times; in 1755 ‘three assemblies met, deliberated, and were dissolved for disobedience within the short space of three months’; in 1765 there were three dissolutions in a year; and it was not until 1816 that any Assembly lasted its full term of seven years.[13]

The tasks of administration under the Old Representative System were carried out by boards established by statute and containing representatives of all three branches of government – the Committee of Correspondence, the Commission of Public Accounts, the Commission of Forts, Fortifications, Barracks and Public Buildings, the Board of Works, the Council of War, and the Ecclesiastical Commission – the last two established late in the period of slavery.[14]

The island was divided into parishes for purposes of local government, each parish being administered by a Vestry over which the custos rotulorum, the chief lay magistrate, presided. This was an extension into the colony of the practice of local government by justices of the peace in England.

Slavery and marronage

The Old Representative System was, it is clear, one in which the powers of government to act were limited by the constant tension between governor and assembly.[15] Of equal, if not greater, importance was the fact that the economic system was one of agricultural plantations employing slave labour.

The plantation, while it had some of the characteristics of the feudal manor, differed from that institution in one central way: its intent was to make a profit rather than to act as an appannage for the landlord. The principal plantation crop was sugar cane, used to make wet sugar, molasses, and rum. In the eighteenth century, coffee became a significant plantation crop. The cattle pen (or penn) arose as an adjunct to the plantation.

Between the time of the British conquest in the mid-seventeenth century, and the abolition of slavery in the 1830s, the plantation and pen were worked by slaves of African origin. The fact of the existence of slavery at the heart of the economic system makes it clear that the colony of Jamaica did not possess a state.

The slave plantation was an imperium in imperio, its work-force was subject not only to the law but to the will or whim of their owner or the owner’s attorney (that is, agent). Violence used to control or punish slaves by their owners and overseers was every bit as legitimate as violence used by the organs of government to maintain order or secure its continued existence. That existence was for the purpose of securing the safety and profitability of the plantations: Jamaica did not exist for itself, but as a producer of profit for its landowners and merchants, and for the Crown. Its security was maintained both by the presence of imperial forces (including some recruited locally), and by a local militia made up of white and free coloured men. The militia, on parade, constituted, by one contemporary account ‘so truly ridiculous a group, as to excite the mirth of even Negroe spectators.’[16]

Repressive violence within the plantation was unremitting, often carried out by slaves on other slaves. And it, in the main, fulfilled its purpose of keeping the slaves obedient. But it did not always do so. Jamaica, a mountainous island, contained areas into which slaves could escape and seek to establish themselves as free peasants and hunters outside the control of their former owners, that is as Maroons. The possibility of marronage appears to have been an encouragement to slave revolts, and Jamaica’s record in that regard is most honourable. Between 1673 and 1832, Jamaica’s slaves rose against their tormentors again and again.[17]

Maroon communities, dating to the period of the conquest, if not earlier, fought a long war with the British which ended not with their defeat (as was the case in the servile wars of Brazil) but with their freedom being recognized by treaties in 1738 and 1739, which guaranteed their autonomy but also required them to become an auxiliary force on behalf of the government. A second Maroon war in the 1790s resulted in one Maroon village being deported first to Nova Scotia and then to Sierra Leone (where, paradoxically, the Jamaican exiles took up arms on the side of the government).

Central to the concerns of this study is the fact that after the treaties of 1738 and 1739, the plantation polity depended not only on its own militia and on troops dispatched by the imperial power for its security, but also on a force of auxiliaries who possessed a degree of autonomy, and who had a thorough knowledge of the interior of the island. Jamaica, at the height of its prosperity as a sugar colony in the late eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century, depended on raw and open violence for what stability and order that it had. The major slave revolts of 1760 and 1831-32, and the Maroon uprising of 1795 constituted grave threats to that stability that could only continue as long as slavery remained the basis of the colony’s economic life.

The End of Slavery and its aftermath

Given the centrality of slavery to the politico-economic structure of eighteenth century Jamaica, it is not surprising that defences of slavery and of the racial inferiority of Africans were being made long before slavery as an institution came under threat. In the 1770s, Edward Long pointed out that the Romans and Athenians had found slavery to be compatible with civic liberty and contended that it ‘may be permitted with least disadvantage both to the master and vassal, in those parts of the world, where it happens to be inevitably necessary.’[18] In a footnote on the presence of blacks among the Miskito Indians of Central America, Long makes his views of Africans plain:

They have also inherited some of the true characteristics of the African mind; for they are generally false, designing, treacherous, knavish, impudent, and revengeful.[19]

This does make one wonder why Long had such horrible people as slaves on his plantations.

Hostility to slavery in Britain, however, was the key to how long the institution could survive in colonies such as Jamaica. The anti-slavery movement, which began in Britain in the mid-1770s, scored its first major success in 1807 when Parliament voted to abolish the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Another quarter-century was to elapse, however, before slavery itself was struck down.

The abolition of slavery was voted by Parliament in 1833, as a result of the victory of the Whigs in the struggle for parliamentary reform the year before. So important was Abolition of Slavery Act that one historian, seeking to place the political changes in Jamaica in the context of change in Britain, calls it a revolution.[20] Unlike the abolition of slavery by the French or Americans, the British abolition was a massive manumission, in which the quondam slaveowners received compensation for the loss of their property. Twenty million pounds were appropriated to compensate the slaveowners throughout the empire.[21]

In Jamaica, over 300,000 slaves were emancipated on 1 August, 1834. They did not, however, become fully free for another four years, becoming instead ‘apprentices’ who had to continue to work on the estates where they had been enslaved. The apprentices, though, had rights: prædial slaves had to work 40½ hours a week for their former masters, the rest of their time was their own. [22]

The former slaves were emancipated into a plantation polity that had not changed its form, and continued to exclude them. Their emancipation, nonetheless, made them juridically equal to their former masters. The latter manifested little willingness to acknowledge that fact, nor the change in the circumstances of the former slaves.

The behaviour of the Jamaica Assembly in the period after emancipation reflects little credit on that less-than-august body. It did bring the period of apprenticeship to an end on 1 August 1838 (otherwise it would have continued another two years for prædial slaves), but that was, as Wrong rightly puts it, ‘in order to avoid the enforcement of further imperial legislation.’[23]

In 1838, the Assembly decided to assert itself against the imperial Parliament by going on strike. They succeeded in forcing the British government to back off but do not seem to have learned much from it.[24] Before emancipation, the Assembly had extended rights to Jews, Catholics, free coloureds, and free blacks.[25] By the middle of the century, brown and black Jamaicans constituted a visible minority bloc in the Assembly.[26] The election of these people reflected changes in the electorate after emancipation. Nonetheless only 1,457 men voted in 1863 – a ratio of 31 voters per Assembly seat.[27]

Curtin points out that the ruling class (and ruling race) was ‘forced to search for constitutional expedients and to make careful adjustments to preserve their right of self-government.’[28] This included a narrowing of the suffrage in1849, after its expansion in 1840.[29] At the same time, the Assembly demanded greater power. More recently, a Jamaican historian has pointed out that

It is clear that coercion was considered to be an important mechanism for the maintenance of white social and political authority; yet within the ranks of white society were those who believed it to be prudent to create a regime which rested not only on force but on consent and co-optation.[30]

While Bryan was writing about Jamaica after the crucial events of 1865, his judgment can also be applied to the period before.

In 1846, the British Parliament gave the death-blow to the plantation polity, though it was to totter on for two more decades. As part of the abolition of the Corn Laws in that year, Parliament passed legislation which would equalize tariffs on sugar over a period of eight years, ending centuries of imperial preference. Jamaican planters would henceforth have to compete with sugar producers whose economies of scale were far greater.

This was not welcomed in Jamaica, but Jamaican élite opinion no longer mattered in Britain. In an attempt to force the British to concede, the Jamaica Assembly again went on strike in 1852, causing a loss in revenue of £130,000.[31] In 1838, the narrow majority held by the Whig government had led to the government conceding. In 1853, the Tories were far more adamant.

The arrival of Sir Henry Barkly as Governor in that year was followed by the one significant reform of the Old Representative System in the nineteenth century: the creation of an Executive Committee, drawn from the Assembly but responsible to the Governor.[32] This was a sort of halfway-house to cabinet government. It also placed brown Jamaicans – though not black ones – at the centre of the political system.[33] It was far too little, far too late.

The early 1860s were a period of great hardship in the colony. Black does not exaggerate when he says ‘the year 1860 ushered in one of the unhappiest periods in Jamaican history.’[34] Drought, the impact of the American Civil War on the island’s trade, and religious revival all had deleterious effects on the island.

Edward John Eyre’s assumption of the office of Lieutenant Governor, substituting for Charles Darling, in 1862 was followed by more than merely the usual squabbling between Governor and Assembly. Eyre was particularly antagonized by a radical brown member of the Assembly, George William Gordon, who represented the parish of St Thomas-in-the-East.[35] He also had to preside over a colony in desperate straits, sharing with the white upper class the fear that black Jamaicans would with their far superior numbers swamp their white rulers.[36]

Those fears were to be given concrete form in October 1865, when peasants in the parish of St Thomas-in-the-East, led by a Baptist deacon named Paul Bogle, rose in revolt against the way justice was administered by the lay magistrates of the parish, burnt down the courthouse in the parish town of Morant Bay, killing the Custos, Baron Maximilian Augustus von Ketelhodt and members of the vestry, and raising the countryside.[37] This revolt needs to be seen in the context both of white fears of black uprising and black fears of re-enslavement to their quondam masters.[38]

Eyre’s response was both rapid and effective. He dispatched troops to Morant Bay, called out the Maroons, and proclaimed martial law in all of the eastern parishes except Kingston. He also had Gordon taken from Kingston, where martial law was not in force, to Morant Bay where it was. Gordon was tried by court martial and executed.[39] The revolt was rapidly and bloodily suppressed, and its leaders, including Bogle, executed, in what a student of Jamaica’s political history was to call ‘the last vicious spasm of a dying ruling class.’[40]

The political aftermath of the revolt was even more dramatic than the revolt itself. Eyre persuaded the Jamaica Assembly to vote itself out of existence. This was, as one brown member of the Assembly realized, the planter class’s ultimate response to its loss of a monopoly of political power.[41] After two centuries of oligarchic rule, Jamaica became a Crown Colony.

[1] The invasion was organized and sponsored by the Cromwellian Commonwealth which temporarily converted Britain into a single unified sovereignty. Before 1649 and between 1660 and 1708, it is proper to speak of England rather than Britain.

[2] Morales Padrón 2003, 215.

[3] Ibid.., 223.

[4] Clinton V. Black, History of Jamaica; London: Collins Educational, 1983.

[5] Edward (Kamau) Brathwaite, The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica 1770-1820; Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1971, 7. Brathwaite describes them as elected ‘though there is no record of the election or of how representation was arranged’.

[6] Hurwitz & Hurwitz 1971, 16-17.

[7] Hume Wrong, Government of the West Indies; Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1923, 36.

[8] Edward Long, The History of Jamaica, vol. I; London: Frank Cass & Co, 1970 [1774], 10.

[9] As they are by Wrong, op. cit., 37: ‘local and imperial interests clashed… almost without intermission’.

[10] Brathwaite 1971, 9.

[11] Ibid., 10.

[12] Wrong 1923, 44.

[13] Ibid.; internal quotation is from G.W. Bridges’ The Annals of Jamaica (1828).

[14] Ibid.

[15] Wrong 1923, 45 fn, cites J.W. Fortescue’s comment in his History of the British Army that ‘in Jamaica, as in the rest of the islands, the military measure which was most sorely needed was the hanging of half a dozen members of Assembly.’

[16] Long 1970, 126.

[17] See, for example, Orlando Patterson, The Sociology of Slavery: An Analysis of the Origins, Development, and Structure of Negro Slave Society in Jamaica; London, MacGibbon and Kee, 1967, 260-283 for a discussion of the various forms of resistance to slavery and the frequency of servile uprisings. See also, Werner Zips, Black Rebels: African-Caribbean Freedom Fighters in Jamaica; Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 1999, 1-126, for both slave rebellions and the activities of the Maroons. Long 1970, 389 makes the quite reasonable point that planter absenteeism may have contributed to the frequency of slave revolts.

[18] Long 1970, 5.

[19] Ibid., 316 fn.

[20] Philip D. Curtin, Two Jamaicas: The Role of Ideas in a Tropical Colony 1830-1865; New York: Atheneum, 1970 [1955], 81.

[21] Most histories cite this number, the amount specified in the act. Wrong 1923, 55 fn notes that the total amount paid was £16,589,373.

[22] Wrong 1923 55 fn. Gad Heuman, Between Black and White: Race, Politics, and the Free Coloreds in Jamaica, 1792-1865; Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981, 83. Curtin 1970, 81-82. Robin Blackburn, The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, 1776-1848; London: Verso, 1988, 459, points out that the abolitionists were concerned that the planters would make apprenticeship into a kind of slavery continued.

[23] Wrong 1923, 56.

[24] Curtin 1970, 97-98.

[25] Heuman 1981, 50.

[26] Ibid., 64.

[27] Ibid., 117.

[28] Curtin 1970, 182.

[29] Ibid., 186. Curtin states that the electoral roll dropped from 1,819 in 1849 to 753 in 1854. In 1844, the population was over 377 thousand (Heuman 1981, 7).

[30] Patrick Bryan, The Jamaican People, 1880-1902: Race, Class, and Social Control; Kingston: The University of the West Indies Press, 2000, ix.

[31] Black 1983, 123-124.

[32] Ibid., 124. Heuman 1981, 155.

[33] Black 1983, 124 notes that Edward Jordan and Henry Westmorland, both brown men, served on the Executive Committee.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Heuman 1981, 176.

[36] Ibid., 178.

[37] Gad Heuman, ‘The Killing Time’: The Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica; London: Macmillan Caribbean, 1994, provides a concise, yet thorough, account of the revolt and its historical setting. In contrast to other interpretations, Heuman views the revolt as a planned rebellion under Bogle’s leadership. Ketelhodt’s maladministration of justice was the proximate cause of the revolt (See H.P. Jacobs, Sixty Years of Change, 1806-1866; Kingston: Institute of Jamaica, 1973, 76).

[38] Heuman 1994, xiii-xiv.

[39] As Eyre achieved fame exploring Australia, there’s a certain appositeness in his having an opponent sentenced to death by a kangaroo court.

[40] Ken Post, Arise ye Starvelings: The Jamaica Labour Rebellion of 1938 and its Aftermath; The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1978, 35.

[41] Heuman, 1981, 192.