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

By Mary Turner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN
Emancipation Achieved

WHILE THE MISSIONARIES in England campaigned for abolition, the antislavery struggle in Jamaica launched by the slaves continued in a different form, between the Colonial Church Unionists and the free colored and black supporters of the missions. The immediate issue was the missionaries' right to preach; the underlying issue was emancipation. For the unionists, to admit the missionaries' right to preach was to admit the slaves' right to freedom. The free blacks and coloreds who mobilized to defend the missionaries did so both as supporters of the mission churches and as loyal citizens convinced of the justice and necessity of the emancipation act. The conflicts created by the abolition issue, therefore, were brought to a head before the emancipation act was passed in Britain and in terms of the missionaries' right to preach. The missionaries acted as catalysts, crystallizing out the pro- and antiabolition forces, the loyal and rebel elements in Jamaica's free population. By focusing the support of the otherwise unorganized and amorphous loyal free colored and black population, they enabled the imperial government to swiftly suppress the rebel whites and prepare for a peaceful transition from a slave to a free society.

The battle lines between free black and colored mission supporters and the C.C.U., first drawn in Montego Bay when the Wesleyan chapel was saved from destruction, were re-established whenever the missionaries attempted to begin preaching. The unionists' resisted with violence, threats of violence, and legal action; mission supporters fought back, but without success. The Wesleyans challenged the unionists on Bridges's doorstep at St. Ann's Bay and stirred up such animosity between the whites and the freedmen in the militia that they considered it prudent to leave. The Baptists, equally bold, sent a man to preach in Montego Bay and licensed the house of a free colored member at the bishop's office in Spanish Town for the purpose. Twenty magistrates, including leading

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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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