Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865 was a rebellion for the rights of black labourers
and to improve their working conditions. Paul Bogle was of great significance
to the cause of the rebellion. There were also other factors such as the
government of Jamaica and the economic status and working conditions of the
black labourers which caused this rebellion.
Bogle was born in 1822 in Jamaica (see Figure 1). He was a small famer in Stony
Gut but later got a position as a Baptist Deacon. Paul Bogle was one of the
most important cause of the rebellion. This is shown through Paul Bogle taking
certain actions, at first Paul Bogle led a small amount of farmers to help them
better their conditions but slowly his supporters grew. He built a chapel which
was a centre of political activity where he would talk to his supporters about
the injustice towards them. Paul Bogle also led marches and did petitions to
try and talk to the governor of Jamaica but it all failed. At that point he
knew it was time for violence so he armed and trained 200 of his supporters and
started a march to Morant Bay.
These events show how Paul Bogle had great
leadership qualities and how determined he was to bring peace. His actions also
highlighted that because he was a Baptist deacon a lot of people trusted him
and he had a big influence on the population which was very religious at that
time, thus he could gather enough supporters to start the rebellion. Due to
people trusting him and having hope that he would finish their suffering when
Paul Bogle said violence is the only way they all agreed. This shows how he was
the most important cause of the rebellion as he was the one who took the major
decisions and lead the rebellion.
were also other factors which started this war, one of them was the role of the
local government. This is shown through the government at that time who turned
a blind eye to the troubles of the black labourers. The poor started to voice
their opinions, so to calm them down the local government organized meetings in
Jamaica for the poor people to inform the government about any bad conditions.
This was a fail as the government did nothing for them. Edward John Eyre who
was the governor at that time, thought that the farmers were exaggerating about
their conditions. Paul Bogle sent petitions on behalf of the farmers but they
were all turned down and when Paul Bogle conducted a march to see Edward John
Eyre, he refused to see them.
events highlight the ignorant behavior of the government, especially the
governor Edward John Eyre and also the fact that the government was only
looking after the benefits of the upper class and not paying attention to the
lower class. This also shows that the government wanted to keep the blacks in
control and not give them what they wanted as they might be scared that they
start having privileges like the upper class and they would not have anyone to
work on the fields and do small jobs anymore. This fear caused the government
to ignore the requests which aggravated the poor people who wanted their
political rights. This was a long term cause of the rebellion.
conditions of the lower class in Jamaica was a big factor in the starting of
the rebellion. This is shown through the Underhill report which was a letter
written by Dr. Edward Underhill which was showing the living conditions in
Jamaica. The report stated, “The people then are starving; and the causes of
this are not far to seek. No doubt the taxation of the Island is too heavy for
its present resources, and must render the cost of producing the staple higher
then they can bear, to meet competition in the markets of the world.” This
shows how taxation was too high for them which caused them to starve . Another
evidence in the report says, “All accounts, both public and private, concur in
affirming the alarming increase of crime chiefly of larceny and petty theft.
This arises from the extreme poverty of the people.” People were also forced to
work long hours in extreme weather for little pay. These people also did not
have proper health services so many would die of diseases.
highlights how even though slavery had ended the conditions were pretty much
the same with oppression still based on skin colour and class. The lack of
money because of low income and high tax linked with people dying of diseases
and lack of education as they were too poor to afford medical services and
schools. They started to complain to authorities about their conditions but got
nothing in return. This was also a long term cause of the rebellion as after
trying to reclaim rights by peace did not work they resorted to violence.
conclusion Paul Bogle was the main reason for the Morant Bay Rebellion and
important as he was the leader. There were long term causes of the rebellion
such as the local government who kept ignoring the requests of the blacks and
social injustice towards blacks who were in horrible conditions and had barely