The Journal of Caribbean History: Volume 54, Issue 2

Article 8
Free Blacks, Free Coloureds and Freedmen in Jamaican Politics, 1830–1842

Swithin Wilmot


Prior to 1830, white males with property monopolized Jamaican politics which excluded free blacks and free coloureds because of their race, and the Jews because of their religion. After 1830, males from these marginalized groups attained civil rights and the freedmen also gained theirs after 1838. Gender and property qualifications barred most from politics, but those who participated were passionate about political inclusion. The paper highlights how free blacks and free coloureds, sometimes in collusion with the Jews, challenged white political monopoly, and demonstrates that small freeholders who did not qualify for the Assembly used their vote to determine who sat there, up to 1842, by which date freedmen influenced the outcome of two by-elections.