Hero Profile – Sam Sharpe

Sam Sharpe, born in the parish of St. James, and named after his master, is also a folk figure. He is known for his pivotal role in the 1831 Christmas Rebellion on the Kensington Estate ­ a rebellion credited as instrumental to full emancipation in 1838.

Sharpe, a Baptist preacher, was literate, a strong speaker and very religious. Sharpe had read many British anti-slavery bulletins and believed that Jamaica’s only chance for redemption was the total abolition of slavery.

Sharpe came up with an idea of passive resistance and communicated this message to slaves after prayer meetings on different estates. He explained his belief that the slaves had been freed in England but kept enslaved by the planters in Jamaica, and described how they could conduct a peaceful strike a few days after Christmas by simply refusing to return to work in the fields unless their concerns were heard.

Read more about Jamaica’s emancipation hero here.