TheMorant Bay Rebellion of 1865 was a rebellion for the rights of black labourersand to improve their working conditions. Paul Bogle was of great significanceto the cause of the rebellion.
There were also other factors such as thegovernment of Jamaica and the economic status and working conditions of theblack labourers which caused this rebellion. PaulBogle was born in 1822 in Jamaica (see Figure 1). He was a small famer in StonyGut but later got a position as a Baptist Deacon. Paul Bogle was one of themost important cause of the rebellion. This is shown through Paul Bogle takingcertain actions, at first Paul Bogle led a small amount of farmers to help thembetter their conditions but slowly his supporters grew. He built a chapel wherepolitical activity would take place and where he would talk to his supportersabout the injustice towards them.
Paul Bogle also led marches and did petitionsto try and talk to the governor of Jamaica but it all failed. At that point heknew it was time for violence so he armed and trained 200 of his supporters andstarted a march to Morant Bay. These events show how Paul Bogle had greatleadership qualities and how determined he was to bring peace. His actions alsohighlighted that because he was a Baptist deacon a lot of people trusted himand he had a big influence on the population which was very religious at thattime, thus he could gather enough supporters to start the rebellion. Due topeople trusting him and having hope that he would finish their suffering whenPaul Bogle said violence is the only way they all agreed. This shows how he wasthe most important cause of the rebellion as he was the one who took the majordecisions and lead the rebellion.
Therewere also other factors which started this war, one of them was the role of thelocal government. This is shown through the government at that time who turneda blind eye to the troubles of the black labourers. The poor started to voicetheir opinions, so to calm them down the local government organized meetings inJamaica 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 whowas the governor at that time, thought that the farmers were exaggerating abouttheir conditions. Paul Bogle sent petitions on behalf of the farmers but theywere all turned down and when Paul Bogle conducted a march to see Edward JohnEyre, he refused to see them.
Theseevents highlight the ignorant behavior of the government, especially thegovernor Edward John Eyre and also the fact that the government was onlylooking after the benefits of the upper class and not paying attention to thelower class. This also shows that the government wanted to keep the blacks incontrol and not give them what they wanted as they might be scared that theystart having privileges like the upper class and they would not have anyone towork on the fields and do small jobs anymore. This fear caused the governmentto ignore the requests which aggravated the poor people who wanted theirpolitical rights. This was a long term cause of the rebellion.
Theconditions of the lower class in Jamaica was a big factor in the starting ofthe rebellion. This is shown through the Underhill report which was a letterwritten by Dr. Edward Underhill which was showing the living conditions inJamaica. The report stated, “The people then are starving; and the causes ofthis are not far to seek. No doubt the taxation of the Island is too heavy forits present resources, and must render the cost of producing the staple higherthen they can bear, to meet competition in the markets of the world.” Thisshows how taxation was too high for them which caused them to starve.
Anotherevidence in the report says, “All accounts, both public and private, concur inaffirming the alarming increase of crime chiefly of larceny and petty theft.This arises from the extreme poverty of the people.” People were also forced towork long hours in extreme weather for little pay. These people also did nothave proper health services so many would die of diseases. Thishighlights how even though slavery had ended the conditions were pretty muchthe same with oppression still based on skin colour and class.
The lack ofmoney because of low income and high tax linked with people dying of diseasesand lack of education as they were too poor to afford medical services andschools. They started to complain to authorities about their conditions but gotnothing in return. This was also a long term cause of the rebellion as aftertrying to reclaim rights by peace did not work they resorted to violence.Inconclusion Paul Bogle was the main reason for the Morant Bay Rebellion andimportant as he was the leader.
There were long term causes of the rebellionsuch as the local government who kept ignoring the requests of the blacks andsocial injustice towards blacks who were in horrible conditions and had barelyany rights.