‘I’d rather die on yonder gallows than be a slave.’
Samuel Sharpe is a National Jamaican Hero, as he was behind the Jamaican Christmas Rebellion of 1832.
He was a self educated man. A Baptist deacon who taught himself to read and write through newspapers he was able to get hold of.
As an avid reader of the news; he read that the British government had granted Jamaicans freedom from slavery; however local planters ignored it.
Frustrated that the plantation owners did not adhere to the instructions from the British government, Samuel decided to take matters into his own hands.
The plantation owners allowed the enslaved people to hold Christian church meetings; and that was where Samuel used the time to discuss his plan with the others.
The plan was to hold a one-day strike in December; This was the day that the sugarcane was ready to be cut and harvested. It had to be done quickly otherwise the cane would spoil.
Samuel hoped that the protest would be non violent and that the local planters would give their workers freedom.
Unfortunately, the plantation owners found out and sent armed troops. For 8 days there was unrest in the area.
Plantations were set on fire, and a total of 186 enslaved people were killed as well as 14 slave owners. As a result, Samuel was hung with 300 other enslaved people.
The rebellion that he organised was a key moment in the fight for the abolition of slavery.
In 1834 slavery would be abolished and the system of “Apprenticeship” started.
It wouldn’t be until 1st August 1938 that the Apprenticeship System ended and the enslaved people would be granted freedom.
Samuel Sharpe was recognised as a Jamaican National Hero in 1975.
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