Slaves and Missionaries: The Disintegration of Jamaican Slave Society, 1787-1834

By Mary Turner | Go to book overview

force? When the missionary denied these allegations, Stewart, having made sure the missionary was aware of all the charges against him, was prepared to say he considered them invidious and unfounded; at the same time, however, he advised him not to preach for a while.97

Patronage had its price. This experience, and the generally precarious tenure of the missions, led the Wesleyan district chairman the following year to specifically request the W.M.M.S. not to take part in any debates about the new Jamaican slave code for fear of provoking another "hot persecution" of the Jamaican mission.98

The circumstances in which the missionaries established a place for themselves in Jamaican society made them responsive to the influence of their patrons. The imperial government had asserted only the principle of religious toleration; it was the patrons who determined what measure of toleration should be practiced. The missionaries, therefore, as reformers of the slave system, found themselves allied with the planters who sought only to preserve it. Together they deplored humanitarian agitation. The missionaries had been co-opted by the planters, and only a powerful new influence operating on the missions' behalf could change this alignment.

The missions, however, had succeeded in establishing themselves despite strenuous, if sporadic, local opposition in a slave society at a time when the institution of slavery was already under attack in England. They owed their success partly to their own persistence, partly to the influence of the planters, both resident and absentee, but most significantly to the insistence of the imperial government that the Assembly had no right to make mission work illegal. The influence of the imperial government was to prove more than once an important factor in the protection and development of mission work. Given the survival of the missions, however, the crucial question is, what contribution did the missionaries make to the life of the slaves? What modifications, innovations, and improvements were they able to effect in the social life developed by the slaves within the structures created by the organization of plantation labor? The context for mission work established by the slaves' social, cultural, and religious life is the topic of the next chapter.


NOTES
1.
Lowell J. Ragatz, The Fall of the Planter Class in the British Caribbean, 1760-1833 ( New York, 1928), p. 81.

-30-

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Slaves and Missionaries: The Disintegration of Jamaican Slave Society, 1787-1834
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vi
  • Abbreviations vii
  • Chapter One - The Planters and the Missionaries 1
  • Notes 30
  • Chapter Two - The Jamaican Slaves 38
  • Notes 59
  • Chapter Three - The Missionaries and the Slaves 65
  • Notes 95
  • Chapter Four - The Humanitarian Challenge 102
  • Notes 126
  • Chapter Five - The Struggle for Religious Freedom 132
  • Notes 144
  • Chapter Six - The Baptist War 148
  • Notes 173
  • Chapter Seven - Emancipation Achieved 179
  • Notes 191
  • Conclusion 195
  • Notes 202
  • Bibliography 204
  • Index 215
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