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THE CHRISTMAS REBELLION OR THE BAPTIST WAR

YEAR:1831
Samuel Sharpe was a slave throughout his life, though he was allowed to become a well-
educated Baptist deacon. Because of his education he was highly respected by other slaves and
he became a well known preacher and leader. He was the deacon of the Burchell Baptist church
in Montego Bay. He spent most of his life traveling in the St. James area educating the slaves
about hristianity and freedom.
!fter the passing of the !melioration Bill in "#$%, there were constant slave revolts throughout the
aribbean. &uring that time, revolt was like a po' that spread from person to person. (n other
words, whenever one island found out that another had an uprising issue in which the slaves
could voice their opinions, they would become motivated to do the same.
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.he missionary-educated rebellion leaders were attuned to the abolitionist movement in 1ondon,
and their intention 2which partially failed3 was for the uprising to take the form of a peaceful
general strike
Samuel Sharpe was a very literate man who could analy4e things and then interpret them to his
fellow enslaved. He told them that the 5gran massa6 in Britain would soon free all slaves and they
would then be paid for their labour during slavery. However, these slaves believed that it had
already passed and that their wages were being fraudulently withheld. .hey decided to take strike
action and not return to work after the hristmas Holiday. Hence its name the hristmas
)ebellion. 0hites called it the Baptist 0ar because they believed that it was started by Sam
Sharpe, a prominent member of the Baptist church. He was a well known black Baptist deacon.
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.he rioting started on the 8ensington *state 2Jamaica3 and then immediately spread to
neighbouring plantations. 0ithin hours, plantations in the parishes *ast of Jamaica had become
involved.
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"3 !ppro'imately four or five hundred slaves were killed, included Samuel Sharpe who was
e'ecuted for being a ring leader. Many other were killed through various forms of ;udicial
e'ecutions < after the conclusion of the rebellion, enslaves were e'ecuted for minor offences
such as theft of a pig, another, a cow. +nly fourteen whites were killed by armed battalions during
the course of the rebellion.
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$3 .he rebellion left tremendous property damage estimated in Jamaican !ssembly summary
report in March "#%$ at ","=>,=#? pounds@
%3 Many missionaries came under suspicion attack by the planters. Some such as 0illiam
8nibb.Aroups of white colonials destroyed chapels that housed slave congregations.
>3 ontributed to the "#%% slave abolition throughout the British *mpire.
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1831: hristmas- Aeneral strike of slaves in northwest turned to open revolt of =B,BBB.
.his strike soon developed into one of the largest slave rebellions the island had
e'perienced. .he great house at 8ensington *state in St James was the first to be set on
fire by the slaves, within hours other plantations in the neighbourhood were abla4e.
.roops were stationed in 8ingston and well-armed merchant vessels were put in place in
case of an uproar.
! lot of damage was done to sugar plantations, but the government lent the planter
money in order to help them to restore their properties.
Many were e'ecuted and brutally flagged and Sam Shape himself was hanged because
of his part in the revolt.
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*ven though slave revolts did not have a tangible effect in bringing about freedom, the hristmas
)ebellion gave black people strength to prove to the whites that they are not cowards in which
they could walk upon, but that they were ;ust as eCual, and the right of freedom was e'tended
unto them as well.
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