The Journal of Caribbean History: Volume 49, Issue 1

Article 2
Black Voters and Jewish Politicians: Electoral Politics in Three Jamaican Parishes, Kingston,
Portland and St Mary in the Post-slavery Period

Swithin Wilmot


Abstract

Scholars have argued that the Jews were readily absorbed into the dominant white elite in the post slavery period; a position reinforced by the political support that the planters received from Jewish Assemblymen who owned significant import-export businesses and who were connected with the island’s agricultural interest, whether as attorneys, mortgagees, or planters. However, this view undervalues the political significance of other Jewish Assemblymen who were provisions and dry goods shopkeepers, produce dealers, as well as liquor retailers. They articulated positions that separated them from the planters and wellto- do merchants and benefited from the political support of the new class of mainly black small freeholders.
The paper discusses political developments in three Jamaican parishes where black freeholders and Jewish politicians constructed strategic alliances that overarched class, colour and ethnic differences, thereby underscoring the complexities of Jamaican creole society during the transition from slavery to freedom.