One of the first fighters for this blessed island was Nanny of the Maroons. She led her people against the colonizers during the first Maroon War 1720-1739. She is known by the British settlers as an outstanding military leader. She is now one of Jamaica’s National Hero.
One of the main fighters before the abolishment of slaves was Sam Sharpe. He led a slave strike which resulted in the 1831 slave rebellion. This Rebellion was instrumental in bringing about the abolition of slavery seven years later. Sam Sharpe was hanged on May 23, 1832. He is now one of Jamaica’s National Hero.
After slavery was abolished in August 1, 1838, the slaves were overjoyed; they made this song called “the Jubilee song” which was sung for this special celebration.
When slavery was abolished, the planters kept their properties and were given 20,000 pounds. The slaves got two suits of clothes and food items which included flour, rice, sugar, oil and salting and was turned from the estates.
Also, following the full freedom of slaves, free villages were established primarily by Baptist Missionaries, the first free village was at Sligoville in St. Catherine and the second one was established in Sturge Town, which is located in Browns Town, St. Ann.
The transition period for slaves was a difficult one especially for the poorer classes. By this time most English plantation owners were missing from the islands, but newer ones came in succession. To make the lives of the poorer class more severe, there was a Civil War in America, this affected them badly as there was now a serious drought and the crops were damaged.
In 1865, Paul Bogle led the Morant Bay Rebellion; this was a big uprising in the parish of St. Thomas. They demonstrated against poverty and injustice being experienced by peasants. He was a Baptist Deacon in Stony Gut and provided militant leadership for his people. They stormed the courthouse and as a result a numerous white people were killed, the Custos of the parish was one of them. There was a lot of blood shedding, 430 people were shot, 1,000 buildings were destroyed and hundreds of people were flogged. Paul Bogle was later hanged on October 24, 1865. He is now one of Jamaica’s National Hero.
George William Gordon also led a movement in the mid 1800’s to gain political rights for the recently freed slaves. His mother was a slave and his father was a planter. Gordon was arrested and charged for his involvement in the Morant Bay Rebellion and was also executed on October 23, 1865. He is now one of Jamaica’s National Hero.
The then Governor, Edward John Eyre was called back to England, however before he left he changed the constitution to the crown colony system. In the years that followed, the islands revival and expansion, in the form of social, economic and constitutional and social, evolves into a sovereign state.
Marcus Garvey, one of the supporters of black nationhood, black pride and self reliance. He founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in 1914. He focused on the mental aspect of the black man; he had a manifesto in 1929 for maternity leave, minimum wage and equal pay for women. He was the first National Hero in Jamaica.
In 1930 the island was heading to another crisis from factors of dissatisfaction of the political advancement. Sir Alexander Bustamante was a strong advocate of the working class. He founded the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU). He also founded the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) in 1943 and then became the first Prime Minister. He is now one of Jamaica National Hero.
Norman Washington Manley led the demand for Universal Adult Suffrage and the negotiations for Jamaica’s Independence. He founded the People’s National Party (PNP) in 1938. He was also a strong advocated of the federation of the West Indies, established in 1958. He is now one of Jamaica National Hero.