JAMAICAN HISTORY 6
From 1866 to August, 1914, Jamaica had continued to live in profound peace and security. During that time the roads of the island were extended and improved. The Railway was greatly extended also; a large number of schools and hospitals were established; and very many of the people acquired land as their own property. Progress was slow but sure. No danger from the outside seemed to threaten the colony. Then suddenly, the Great War broke out on August I, 1914. It involved Jamaica, as it involved every other country in the world, directly or indirectly. Its influence on this island was felt all the time it lasted and the influence of changes it brought about were felt by generations to come.
Jamaica took part in the War, sending to the front about ten thousand men. While the fighting continued she suffered from lack of ships to take her products to other countries. This was a disturbance of trade that always takes place in time of war and affects all countries. In course of time Jamaica was able to resume her regular trade in sugar, rum, tobacco, coffee and cocoa, which were admitted into the English market on better terms than the same things produced in foreign countries. In other respects also the War brought about many changes in Jamaica, as it did the world over. So with its outbreak began the fifth period of our history.
In 1914 on August 1, Germany plunged Europe into war by declaring war on Russia and next day invading France through Belgium. As England was a party to a treaty with France and (any to defend Belgium against invasions, England declared war on Germany. It was to be a long and bitter war lasting four years till 1918. It became known as the Great War and was afterwards called the First World War, because most nations in the World became involved.
When the war started, Martial Law was immediately proclaimed in Jamaica and a body of troops called the Jamaica Reserve Regiment was formed for the defence of the island. Further, on August 14, a fund was launched which raised £20,000 by year-end to provide comforts for British soldiers.
On September 17, the Legislative Council voted £50.000 to purchase sugar for donation to England.
In 1915, by voluntary effort, Jamaica began to arrange to send soldiers to fight in the Great War and a contingent of 500 men was sent off on November 8. The Legislative Council took over the effort.
On August 12 and 13 a hurricane hit the island; a second occurred on September 25 and 26. Both wrought much damage to property and agriculture, especially to bananas.
In 1916, on January 7, the second contingent of volunteers was sent off to was with a third following on March 16.
On March 29, the Legislative Council voted £60,000 a year for 40 years as Jamaica's contribution to the expenses of the war. Intensive recruitment was started in all parishes. The fourth contingent sailed on September 30. Other West Indian islands followed Jamaica's lead in sending men to fight, so the British War Office resolved to regard all West Indians as one unit to be known as The British West Indies Regiment.
On August 15 and 16, a hurricane swept Jamaica.
In 1917, March 6, the Legislative Council introduced compulsory military service, with every male from 16 to 41 being obliged to register. This was to ensure sufficient soldiers being available, but the Conscription Law was never put into effect since all the recruits needed came forward voluntarily. A number of women volunteers also went to England, mainly to join the nursing services. Five contingents left Jamaica in 1917 bringing the total to nine contingents in all, comprising about 10,000 men.
In May, some women property-owners were given the right to vote.
In September, still another hurricane hit the island damaging property, banana plantations and crops. Thus for three successive years the island had not escaped the ravages of hurricanes .
In 1918 May 11, Sir William Manning left Jamaica to go to Ceylon as Governor. In June, Sir Leslie Probyn, who had been Governor of Barbados, arrived here as Governor.
On November 1, an Armistice was signed between Germany and her allies Austria, Turkey and Bulgaria and the Allies, chief nations of which were England, France, U.S.A., Italy and Japan. The war being now practically over, the Jamaican soldiers began to be sent home. The first lot of them to return landed in Kingston on May 2, and received a hearty welcome. Many of the men sent away had died or had been wounded, but most of them had escaped injury. In Palestine, especially, the West Indian soldiers, most of whom were Jamaicans, had distinguished themselves in fighting the Turks.
In 1923 the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew were amalgamated. The union came into effect on May 1.
In 1924 Sir Samuel Wilson arrived (September 29), as Governor in succession to Sir Leslie Probyn. He remained only nine months, leaving the colony in June, 1925. He subsequently became Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies.
In 1925, January, a delegation, consisting of several Members of the British Parliament paid a visit to Jamaica; this was a very important event, for the visitors were influential men and by seeing for themselves were able to carry back to England a better knowledge of Jamaican affairs both political and economic.
On March 16, the branch railway from Chapelton to Frankfield was opened. The line is ten miles long. The Hon. A. S. Jelfe, Colonial Secretary, arrived in October and administered the Government until a successor to Sir Samuel Wilson was appointed.
In 1926, April, Sir Reginald Edward Stubbs arrived as Governor. In May there was held, in a room in the House of Lords, a West Indian Conference. It was attended by representatives of the West Indian colonies and its object was to provide a place where representatives of the different Governments could meet and discuss their problems. During this year the West India Regiment was disbanded. The Regiment had had a long and distinguished career. It first formed in America as the North Carolina Regiment in the year 1779. It was later re-organized and named the West India Regiment. It took part in the capture of St. Lucia, Martinique, Guadeloupe and Dominica, during the wars with Napoleon. During the latter part of last century it was frequently engaged in operations on the West Coast of Africa, notably Ashantee (1873), West Africa (1887, 1892-1894), and Sierra Leone (1898), and in the Great War (1914-1918) the Regiment saw service in Palestine, the Cameroons and East Africa. The final parade of the Regiment was held at Up Park Camp on the 26th October, 1926. Later on, in February,
In 1927, the Colours were taken to England in charge of several officers. The King received the Colours at Buckingham Palace on the 18th February. In receiving them, His Majesty said: "I am proud to take charge of the Colours to be preserved and held in remembrance of a great Regiment." The Band of the Regiment, which always had a great musical reputation, was kept in existence as a memory. The bandsmen still wear the historic Zouave uniform.
On May 4, the Hermitage Dam, on the Wag Water River, was opened. It was built to provide a reserve water supply for the Corporate Area of Kingston and St. Andrew. The dam is 142 feet high, 465 feet wide, and is capable of storing 430,000,000 gallons of water. It took two and a half years to build.
In August, an organization called the Jamaica Producers' Association was formed. The object was to get all the banana growers of the island or as many of them as possible to form themselves into a large Company to sell their fruit together. By so doing they hoped to obtain the best prices when the fruit was sold in the markets abroad. A direct line of steamers was to be run as part of the scheme. The Government supported the idea and helped the Association to start operating. The fruit industry was also further assisted by a line of steamers to Canada. The object was to encourage Canadian and West Indian businessmen to do more business together.
In 1930 in February, a delegation headed by Lord Olivier visited Jamaica to enquire into the state of the sugar industry. Visits were also paid to other West Indian colonies for the same reason. The industry had been receiving support from the British Government in the form of a reduced tax. It was being said that the support should be taken away. The delegation was sent out to find out the exact state of affairs in the different colonies.
In 1932 the Cayman Islands were severely hit by a disastrous hurricane, which swept over them on the night of Tuesday, November 8. Many buildings were demolished in Grand Cayman, but there was no loss of life. The island of Cayman Brac was completely devastated Dwelling houses and stores were wrecked by wind and sea. Hundreds of the inhabitants were injured, many of the seriously, and 67 lost their lives. In Little Cayman similar damage was done to buildings and many of the inhabitants were injured, but no lives were lost.
On November 9, Sir Edward Stubbs sailed from Jamaica, having completed his term of office, to assume the Governor-ship of Cyprus. His administration was a very successful one. His Excellency lent great encouragement to the idea of local enterprise, and important economic developments took place during his administration.
He was succeeded by Sir Ransford Slater, K.C.M.G., C.B.E., who arrived in Jamaica as Governor on November 21.
In 1933 between the night of the 14th of August and the morning of the 15th, a disastrous flood of record intensity occurred in Kingston and Lower St. Andrew, taking 53 lives and destroying over £300,000 of Government, Municipal and private property. The flood followed very heavy rains which had been falling for several weeks and the swollen gully courses overflowed their banks, taking away houses and drowning the people sleeping in them. Nearly five inches of rain fell in one hour, and the rainfall for the day was 11.60 inches. A severe water shortage was caused by the gullies bursting the water mains. Relief measures were carried out and a fund, opened by the Governor, provided nearly £5,000 for the sufferers.
In 1934, October 24, Sir Edward Denham arrived as Governor, in succession to Sir Ransford Slater, who left Jamaica in April, retiring from the Governorship on the grounds of ill-health. In 1935, May 6, King George V celebrated the Silver Jubilee of his reign.
In 1936 King George V died, on January 20, after a short illness, The Prince of Wales ascended the throne as King Edward Vlll: he abdicated on December 10. On the abdication of Edward Vlll, his brother, the Duke of York, was called to the throne as George Vl. He was crowned, with Queen Elizabeth, at Westminster Abbey on May 12, 1937.
On April 3, a radio-telephone service was inaugurated by which persons in Jamaica were able to speak over the telephone with others in the United States, England, Canada, Mexico and Cuba. The Jamaica Progressive League first advocated self-government for Jamaica.
In 1938 discontent over wages and unemployment throughout the island led to the appointment by the Government of a Commission to enquire into the position, but before the Commission could conclude its work, serious labour disturbances broke out at Frome, Westmoreland, followed by grave disorders in Kingston, St. Mary, St. James and other parts of the island. One of the leaders of the movement, Alexander Bustamante, was arrested but afterwards freed, and then was formed what was the first recognized Labour Union in Jamaica.
These disturbances, which occurred during the same period as troubles in the other West Indian islands, led the Imperial Government to send out the West India Royal Commission, the Moyne Commission, which took evidence here and in other colonial possessions in the Caribbean. Sir Edward Denham, Governor, died in the Kingston Public Hospital on June 2 and was buried at sea on the following day.
He was succeeded by Sir Arthur Richards, who arrived in Jamaica on August 19. The People's National Party was formed under the leadership of Norman W. Manley.
In 1939 an important improvement to internal communications was made with the inauguration of the All-island Trunk Telephone Service to connect all the principal towns of the island. The first connection was opened to the public on April 1.
In September, the Second World War broke out in Europe, in which Britain became involved. Germany attacked and invaded Poland. Great Britain had a treaty with Poland, and with the Dominions and Colonies, declared war on Germany. Jamaica, like other parts of the Empire, was immediately placed under the Defence of the Realm Act, under which the Governor made regulations controlling prices of all commodities to prevent profiteering, controlling foreign exchange, and imposing censorship of the press, mails and of telegraph and cable messages.
In 1940 Great Britain and the United States entered into an arrangements by which the United States was granted air, military and naval bases in British territory. Among the places selected for these bases was Jamaica, one at Portland Bight, and another at Vernamfield in Clarendon. A corps of American engineers arrived in the island shortly after the arrangement between the two countries was completed, and immediately set to work on plans for the building of the bases.
In 1942, March 9, the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission was formed. Its object was to co-ordinate effort in planning agricultural and other research in the Caribbean. The Commission consisted of six members, three appointed by the British Government and three the United States of America. Later it was broadened to take in the French and Dutch West Indies. Members from those governments were appointed and it became the Caribbean Commission. In June, Marcus Mosiah Garvey died in London.
In 1943, July 8, in the Ward Theatre, the Jamaica Labour Party was founded, under the leadership of Alexander Bustamante. In August, agricultural labourers (sometimes called farm workers) were recruited for temporary employment in the USA to meet war needs. So successful was the venture that recruitment was repeated year by year, and the plan extended to other West Indian Islands. In September, Sir John Huggins arrived as Governor in succession to Sir Arthur Richards, who went to Nigeria to assume the Governorship there.
In 1944, August 20, a disastrous hurricane swept over Jamaica, almost completely destroying the coconut industry. Many homes, as well as schools and other public buildings, were badly damaged and some completely demolished.
On November 20, a new Constitution was proclaimed, under which the island obtained representative, though not responsible government. In place of the single Legislative Council, presided over by the Governor, there was created one wholly-elected body, the House of Representatives, chosen under universal suffrage and presided over by its own Speaker; and a Legislative Council, partly ex-officio and partly nominated by the Governor. There also came into existence an Executive Council of ten Members, five chosen by the House of Representatives and five by the Governor.
November 20 was declared a public holiday, and is known as Constitution Day intill after Independence in 1962 when it was replaced by national Heroes Day, on the third Monday of October.
In the general elections that followed, the Jamaica Labour Party, led by Mr. Bustamante, obtained a large majority over the People's National Party.
In 1945 the second World War came to an end. The Germans collapsed in Europe in May, and the Japanese yielded in August to intensive bombing, which included the first use of the atomic bomb, on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
In 1947 a conference took place at Montego Bay to consider uniting the British West Indies under a single Federal Government. The subject had been discussed informally from time to time, but this was the first occasion on which representatives of all the British Caribbean peoples met to give the matter official consideration. Representatives were sent by the Governments of all the territories, namely: Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, the Windward Islands, the Leeward Islands British Guiana and British Honduras, and the conference was presided over by the Right Hon. Arthur Creech Jones, Secretary of State for the Colonies. A Standing Committee to study the problem was appointed; it made a report, three years later, which was the basis for further debate in all the territories as to the desirability of federation.
In 1948 The University College of the West Indies was founded at Mona, St. Andrew. It received support from the Governments of all the British Caribbean territories. In August the Jamaica Public Service Co. Ltd., abolished its tramway system in favour of buses for all public transport. In 1949 new general elections were held. The Jamaica Labour Party again won, but by a greatly reduced majority in the House of Representatives.
In 1950 on July 9, commercial broadcasting was started by the Jamaica Broadcasting Co. in Kingston. The name would later be changed to Radio Jamaica Ltd. (RJR).
In 1951 Sir Hugh Mackintosh Foot became Governor in succession to Sir John Huggins.
On August 17, the most severe hurricane in seventy years, Hurricane Charlie, swept over the island. It did great damage in Kings Port Royal was destroyed for the third time in its history. Morant Bay was hard hit. The loss of life was in excess of 150.
In 1952 on February 6, King George Vl died. His Majesty had been ill for some time and had undergone a serious operation. He was gradually convalescing from this illness when he died, and Princess Elizabeth ascended the throne as Queen Elizabeth II.
The manufacture of cement in Jamaica was started at Rockfort, 4 miles from Kingston, on the road to St. Thomas by the Caribbean Cement Company, in February of this year.
In May, Government set up the Agricultural Development Corporation (often referred to as the A.D.C.) to promote further development of agriculture throughout the island. Early emphasis was on rice-growing.
In June, Government set up the Industrial Development Corporation (now called the J.l.D.C.) to aid expansion in industry and to help to attract overseas capital in setting up industries in the island.
In the Olympics held in Helsinki, Finland, Jamaica's team of Arthur Wint, Leslie Laing Herbert McKenley and Gsorge Rhoden won the 4 x 400 relay in world record time, as did Rhoden in winning the gold medal in the 400 metres. McKenley won silver medals in the 100 and 400 metres and Wint the siver in the 800 metres.
In 1953 a broadening of the Constitution was put into effect. The number of Ministries was increased to nine, giving the popular side of the Government a Cabinet for the first time, with Ministers responsible for their portfolios and with the elected leader becoming Chief Minister. Mr. Alexander Bustamante was the first Chief Minister.
In November, Queen Elizabeth II stopped off for two days on her way to Australia, this being the first time that Jamaica had been visited by a reigning English monarch. Great crowds cheered Her Majesty at many points. She was accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
In 1954 success attended an Industrial Fair held in Kingston by the Jamaica Manufacturers Association. In November, President William V. Tubman of Liberia paid a State visit. In July there was a serious outbreak of poliomyelitis. It was brought under control by December, by which time 759 cases had been reported out of which there were 94 deaths.
In 1955 island-wide celebrations marked the 300th Anniversary of the coming of Penn and Venables in 1655, and thus the tercentenary of association with Britain. The year opened politically with general elections in January. The People's National Party gained a majority, and on February 2 Norman W. Manley took office as Chief Minister. Later, in February, an official good-will visit to Jamaica was paid by General Paul Magloire, President of Haiti. Less than a week afterwards, HRH Princess Margaret spent five days during the course of her official tour through the British Caribbean. She opened the new hospital at Morant Bay which was named for her. Then followed Senor Luis Munoz Marin, Governor of Puerto Rico, who opened the Agricultural Fair at Denbigh.
The second Industrial Fair in Kingston was opened in September by the Hon. Adlai Stevenson, former candidate for the Presidency of the United States.
Tercentenary activities which went on for the full year included a "bandwagon" show which made a circuit of the parishes with artistic and athletic events of all kinds.
In 1956 a conference held in London of representatives of the Caribbean island territories, settled major points concerning Federation, exclusive of the name of the new nation-to-be and the site of its capital. A Commission of three Englishmen was pointed to tour the region and propose three locations from which the capital would be chosen.
Migration to England, which for some years since the Second World War had been rising from almost a trickle, gathered momentum and over 17,000 Jamaicans went to England to seek work in this year.
In 1957 early in the year, a final Federation Conference took place at Mona, St. Andrew. The name West Indies was adopted for the Federation. The Commission on the capital recommended Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad in the order named. By vote of the regional delegates, Trinidad was selected. Elaborate naval, military and civic displays attended the unveiling of historical markers at Port Royal, the most important being a plaque in honour of naval heroes who had commanded there. His Excellency the Governor presided.
In January a new system of land valuation for tax purposes was introduced, based on unimproved value instead of an improved value as before. It was planned to introduce this system gradually, each parish being done in turn.
On March 1 there was a heavy earthquake which shook almost the entire island, causing substantial damage to buildings. During this year Government policy on education was revised and expanded, whereby 1,500 free places in secondary schools and 50 scholarships and bursars to the University College of the West Indies was made an annual affair.
In June the Mona Reservoir in St. Andrew, building of which had started in the early 1940s, was put into service. It has a capacity of 825,000,000 gallons.
In 1957 on November l1, Jamaica received full internal self-government which meant a complete change of the political structure that had existed for almost three centuries. This change gave control of all internal matters to a Council of Ministers, called the Executive Council, nominated by the Governor on the recommendation of the Chief Minister, who now became known as Premier. This Parliamentary system was modeled on that of the United Kingdom. There were now ten Ministers instead of the nine under the 1953 Constitution.
Sir Kenneth Blackburne, formerly Governor of the Leeward Islands arrived on December 18 to take over as Governor from Sir Hugh Foot, who had left the island on November 18 to go to Cyprus as Governor. During this year bauxite and aluminum exports almost doubled those of 1956. Financial arrangements between Government and the bauxite companies were revised, whereby Government received greatly increased revenues from the mining companies. Migrants to England in this year numbered 13,087.
In 1958 Jamaica became a member territory of the West Indies Federation when it was proclaimed on the 23rd of February. During this year the Sugar Industry Labour Welfare Board was established to improve and control the conditions of workers on sugar estates and cane farms, and of their dependents.
In December, Government set up the Jamaica National Trust Commission with power to take steps for the purchase and preservation of National Monuments.
On December 31 the Jamaica Regiment disbanded, most of its members being absorbed the next day by the West India Regiment. Migrants to the United Kingdom in this year amounted to 9,992.
In 1959 on March 17, the Hon. Noel Nethersole, Minister of Finance, died suddenly of a heart attack while preparing the Government Budget.
In Federal Elections held in April, the Bustamante-led Democratic Labour Party won 12 seats in Jamaica to 5 won be the Federal Labour Party, led by Norman Manley.
On June 14, the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation, which is run by a Government Statutory Board, started operations, thus bringing a second broadcasting station to the island.
On July 4, important changes in the Constitution of Jamaica were proclaimed. The Council of Ministers established in the 1957 Constitution was now replaced by a Cabinet with a Premier. The number of electoral constituencies for electing Members of the House of Representatives was increased from 32 to 45.
The new Montego Bay International Air Terminal was officially opened to traffic on July 9, while in August the new 7,600 ft. runway at the Palisadoes Airport, near Kingston, was opened to traffic, even though the new terminal building was still under construction.
On July 28 there was a general election, as a result of which the People's National Party was returned to power, having won 29 seats in the House against the Jamaica Labour Party's 16 seats. Mr. Norman Manley, Q.C., became Premier and assumed the portfolio of Minister of Development.
Work began in this year on the important Negril development project in the west of the island.
Migrants to the U.K. in this year amounted to 12,796.
In 1960 the Governor, Sir Kenneth Blackburne, went on overseas leave and Mr. Geoffrey Gunter was appointed to act in his place. This was the first occasion on which a Jamaican had been appointed in this way to represent the Crown since the surrender of the old Constitution in 1866. Mr. Gunter was later knighted.
On October 26, the Legislature was transferred from Headquarters House, where it had been located for 88 years, to a new building next door on Duke Street. This new House was named Gordon House in honour of the great Jamaican patriot, George William Gordon, who had been a member of the House of Assembly under the old Constitution and a victim of the aftermath of the 1865 rebellion.
During this year, considerable expansion of the manufacturing industry took place. New industries appeared, and important amalgamations of businesses and remodeling of factories took place or were completed.
In November the Government awarded 75 bursars to the University of the West Indies.
Migrants to the UK. reached the figure of 32,060.
In 1961 in May the Government opened a national bank, the Bank of Jamaica, thus marking a new and important phase in the development of the island's financial institutions.
On September 19, a Referendum was held for the people of Jamaica to vote as to whether or not they wished the island to remain in the West Indies Federation. 256,261 people voted "No" and 217,319 people voted "Yes". As a result, Jamaica decided to withdraw from the Federation, which was later dissolved. Jamaica then asked Britain for independence.
A conference was held in London between Jamaican leaders and the British Government which resulted in the granting of independence with Dominion status of Jamaica on the basis of an agreed Constitution. The agreed date for Independence was set for August 6, 1962.
Migration to the United Kingdom in this year exceeded 39,000.
In 1962, April 10, a general election was held. The Jamaica Labour Party won 26 seats, while the People's National Party won the remaining 19 seats. The Government therefore passed from the PNP to the JLP and Sir Alexander Bustamante became Prime Minister.
On May 31, the West Indies Federation was dissolved. Jamaica, after her decision of late September 1961, to secede, had remained a member until its dissolution.
On June 22, the last British Regiment in Jamaica, The Royal Hampshire Regiment, left the island, thus bringing to a close an era which had begun in 1655, since when British troops had always been quartered in Jamaica.