The Drawing-Room Men: The Jamaica Controversy in 1866

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 Drawing-Room Men: The Jamaica Controversy in 1866

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In the spring of 1866, the Jamaica controversy returned as a focal point of English political debate, if now as part of a broader conflict over British democracy, the franchise, and the accountability of military and political officials to law. Under the unyielding leadership of John Stuart Mill M.P., the Jamaica Committee sought to use the Jamaica suppression to galvanize public support in England for the Second Reform bill and liberal constitutionalism. Mill and his allies promoted an alarmist view of the Jamaica affair: If George Gordon could be summarily executed under a declaration of martial law, did the same fate await John Bright and other radical reformers? Dissatisfied by the tepid response of Parliament to abuses of power at Morant Bay, the Jamaica Committee prepared to initiate, in England, a private criminal prosecution against Edward Eyre for the murder of George Gordon.

Keywords: political reform; radicalism; John Stuart Mill; private criminal prosecution

Chapter.  33002 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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