The Journal of Caribbean History: Volume 50, Issue 1

Article 2
Samuel Ward and the Gordon Rebellion

Jeffery R. Kerr-Ritchie


This article examines American ex-slave and Baptist minister Samuel Ringgold Ward’s response to the Morant Bay Rebellion. It focuses on Ward’s pamphlet Reflections on the Gordon Rebellion as well as his testimony to the Jamaica Royal Commission in February 1866. It seeks to explain why Ward condemned the rebellion. It argues that Ward’s opposition was the logical consequence of the thought and actions of a long-term black loyalist for whom a powerful Empire guaranteed freedom and promised future reform. Its significance is threefold. Ward’s written and verbal responses are unique historical documents that have been under-examined. They further exemplify transnational connections that are only gradually beginning to cut into traditional specializations in the historical profession. It is a fascinating topic: an American ex-slave, reform minister, and militant abolitionist who rejected rather than supported the most profound popular rebellion against social and racial inequality by Jamaica’s first post-emancipation generation.