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3 - Creating an English Jamaica, 1655–1775

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 November 2023

Kenneth Morgan
Affiliation:
Brunel University
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Summary

Pirates and privateers used Jamaica as a base for their sea raids. By the late seventeenth century, however, sugar plantations based on slave labour had been established in Jamaica as the main form of economic activity. Jamaica failed to become a self-sustaining settler population. The slave population also suffered from heavy mortality. Life for the enslaved was completely overseen by white control. Slaves created their own family structures and practised a rich spiritual and community life. They protested by running away, by staging occasional revolts and by forming Maroon communities in more remote parts of Jamaica.

Jamaica was retained as a British possession in the American revolutionary era. Though Jamaicans disliked the Stamp Act in 1765, they remained loyal to Britain during the American War of Independence. This arose largely from their fears of being outnumbered by a large black majority on the island from whom they needed British military forces to protect their property and livelihoods. Fortunately, Jamaica was not attacked successfully by the Americans and their allies during the war years between 1775 and 1783.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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