‘The Country of Law’: Reconstructing the Morant Bay Uprising in England

R. W. Kostal

in A Jurisprudence of Power

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199551941
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191714320 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Modern Legal History

 ‘The Country of Law’: Reconstructing the Morant Bay Uprising in England

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In the wake of the bloody suppression under martial law of rebellious Jamaican peasants in November 1865, the English political class fiercely debated the moral, legal, and political implications of these events. By mid-December, the ‘Jamaica Committee’, a coalition of evangelical philanthropists, secular intellectuals, and Radical politicians, pressed the British government to investigate what had happened in Jamaica, whether there had been gross abuse of state authority, and whether the governor of Jamaica, Edward Eyre, might be criminally culpable for the summary execution of his erstwhile political antagonist, the Jamaican politician, George Gordon. In the daily and periodical press and in political circles, the Jamaica controversy was reconstructed principally as a legal question: Did a British colonial governor have the lawful authority to suspend civilian law, then to subject prisoners to summary trial and execution?

Keywords: martial law; Jamaica controversy; Jamaica Committee

Chapter.  25227 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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