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35. British Jamaica (1913-1962)

 

Pre-Crisis Phase (March 7, 1913-April 19, 1938):  Sir William Henry Manning was appointed as Governor of British Crown Colony of Jamaica on March 7, 1913.  Robert Johnstone was appointed as Acting Governor of British Jamaica on May 11, 1918.  During labor strikes in Kingston beginning in June 1918, three individuals were killed in riots in the nearby town of Vere in July 1918.  Sir Leslie Probyn was appointed as Governor of British Jamaica on June 11, 1918.  Two individuals were killed in a riot in Kingston in 1924.  Sir Samuel Herbert Wilson was appointed as Governor of British Jamaica on September 29, 1924.  Sir Reginald Edward Stubbs was appointed as Governor of British Jamaica on April 26, 1926.  The People’s Political Party (PPP) was established by Marcus Garvey in September 1929.  Sir Alexander Ransford Slater was appointed as Governor of British Jamaica on November 21, 1932.  Sir Edward Brandis Denham was appointed as Governor of British Jamaica on October 24, 1934.  Sugar cane workers on Serge Island Estate in St. Thomas went on strike beginning in December 1937.  Government police arrested 63 of the strikers in January 1938.

Crisis Phase (April 20, 1938-June 10, 1938):  Alexander Bustamante, leader of a workers strike at the Frome Estate of the West Indies Sugar Company, denounced Governor Edward Brandis Denham and the Legislative Council in a speech given in Kingston on April 20, 1938. Protests and strikes occurred in Kingston from May 2 to May 28, 1938.  Government police clashed with strikers at the Frome Estate on May 2, 1938, resulting in the deaths of four strikers and the arrests of 109 strikers.  Government police clashed with protesters in Kingston on May 23, 1938.  The government ordered the arrest of strike leaders Alexander Bustamante and William Grant on May 23, 1938, and the men were arrested and charged with sedition on May 24, 1938.  Two individuals were killed in clashes with government policemen in Kingston in May 24, 1938.  Governor Edward Brandis Denham declared a state of emergency on May 25, 1938.  Alexander Bustamante and William Grant were released from detention on May 30, 1938.  Governor Edward Brandis Denham died in Kingston on June 2, 1938, and  Charles Campbell Woolley was appointed as Acting Governor of British Jamaica.  Government policemen killed four individuals during clashes with protesters in St. Mary’s Parish on June 3, 1938.  Two individuals were killed in clashes between government policemen and protesters throughout the colony on June 6, 1938.  The workers revolt in British Jamaica ended on June 10, 1938.

Post-Crisis Phase (June 11, 1938-August 6, 1962):  Sir Arthur Frederick Richards was appointed as Governor of British Jamaica on August 19, 1938.  The People’s National Party (PNP) was established by Norman Manley on September 18, 1938.  On September 8, 1940, Alexander Bustamante was arrested for giving an “inflammatory speech” the previous evening in Kingston.  Alexander Bustamante was held in police custody for 17 months, and he was released from jail on February 8, 1942.  The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) was established by Alexander Bustamante on July 8, 1943.  Sir John Huggins was appointed as Governor of British Jamaica on September 29, 1943.  A new constitution for British Jamaica, which provided for a bicameral legislative branch with an elected 32-member House of Representatives, went into effect on November 20, 1944.  Legislative elections were held on December 12, 1944, and the JLP won 22 out of 32 seats in the House of Representatives.  The PNP won five seats in the House of Representatives.  Legislative elections were held on December 20, 1949, and the JLP won 17 out of 32 seats in the House of Representatives.  The PNP won 13 seats in the House of Representatives.  Sir Hugh Mackintosh Foot was appointed as Governor of British Jamaica on April 7, 1951.  Legislative elections were held on January 12, 1955, and the PNP won 18 out of 32 seats in the House of Representatives.  The JLP won 14 seats in the House of Representatives.  On February 23, 1956, representatives of the British government and Britain’s West Indies colonies (including Jamaica) reached an agreement in London, which provided for the establishment of a West Indies federation within the British Commonwealth.  Sir Kenneth Blackburne was appointed as Governor of British Jamaica on December 18, 1957.  The Federation of the West Indies, including Jamaica, was formally established on January 3, 1958.  Federal elections were held on March 25, 1958, and the West Indies Federal Labour Party (WIFLP) headed by Norman Manley won 26 out of 45 seats in the House of Representatives.  The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) headed by Alexander Bustamante won 19 seats in the House of Representatives.  Legislative elections were held in British Jamaica on July 28, 1959, and the PNP won 29 out of 45 seats in the House of Representatives.  The JLP won 16 seats in the House of Representatives.  Some 54 percent of voters in British Jamaica voted not to remain in the West Indies Federation in a referendum held on September 19, 1961.  On February 6, 1962, British Colonial Secretary Reginald Maudling announced the dissolution of the Federation of the West Indies, and the federation was formally dissolved on May 31, 1962.  Legislative elections were held on April 10, 1962, and the JLP won 26 out of 45 seats in the House of Representatives.  The PNP won 19 seats in the House of Representatives.  Jamaica formally achieved its independence from Britain on August 6, 1962.

[Sources:  New York Times (NYT), February 24, 1943, December 21, 1949, January 14, 1951, January 19, 1953, December 21, 1957, March 2, 1958, October 1, 1961, February 7, 1962, August 6, 1962.]

 

Selected Bibliography

Phelps, O. W. 1960. “Rise of the Labour Movement in Jamaica,” Social and Economic Studies, vol. 9 (4), pp. 417-468.

St. Pierre, Maurice. 1978. “The 1938 Jamaica Disturbances: A Portrait of Mass Reaction Against Colonialism,” Social and Economic Studies, vol. 27 (2), pp. 171-196.