Brief History

Jamaica: Under British Rule

On May 10, 1655, a body of English sailors and soldiers landed at Passage Fort, in Kingston harbor, and marched towards Spanish Town. They were commanded by Admiral Penn and General Venables, who had been sent by Oliver Cromwell to capture the island of Hispaniola. Penn and Venables failed to take the city of Santo Domingo and sailed on to Jamaica.

On May 11, the Spaniards surrendered. They were allowed a few days to leave the island. Some of them went to Cuba, but others secretly escaped to the northern side of Jamaica. After the takeover of the British, they turned the Island into a vast sugar plantation and became very prosperous. As a result, they were forced to bring in slaves from Africa to work on the plantations. This slave trade continued until the 1st of August 1838 when slavery was abolished. Jamaica remained a British colony until August 6, 1962, when Jamaica began an Independent nation.

After Emancipation, many of the ex-slaves settled down as small farmers in the mountains, cultivating steep hill slopes far away from the plantations. Still others settled on marginal lands in the plains nearby the plantations on land leased or bought in various land settlement schemes organized and sponsored by Christian groups such as the Baptists.

The majority of the 2.5 million Jamaican people are of African descent or a mixed race. Other groups include East Indians, Chinese and Europeans. This is why the National Motto is, "Out of Many, One People."

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Copyright ©: 2003 Cherise James
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