Sam Sharpe Biography

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Biography Part 3 - The protest turns into a rebellion

The peaceful protest began after Christmas in 1831. However, many slaves took the demonstration as a forum to vent their anger about slavery and had acquired guns in anticipation. On December 28 the slaves of Kensington Estate set fire to the Great House, escalating the force of the process. Many cane fields and great houses were subsequently set alight and 14 white people were believed to be killed during the demonstrations. The military responded quickly and, benefitting from experience and a well organised approach, ended the rebellion within 2 weeks.

As part of the military reaction to the rebellion and in the executions which followed, around 500 slaves were killed. Sam Sharpe surrendered and took responsibility for the rebellion. Sharpe was executed on 23 May 1832 by hanging at the parade in Montego Bay (now called Sam Sharpe square) along with many other slaves. Sharpe is famously quoted as saying "I would rather die among yonder gallows, than live in slavery" before being hanged. His body was buried in the sand at Montego Bay harbour.

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The Protest Turns into a Rebellion