Peace and Stability

1799-1815: Relative Quiet Descends on Jamaica's History in the 19th Century

Although Jamaica's involvement in the French Revolution ended, the struggle continued in Europe for many more years. During this time, however, the Caribbean was a battleground, but Jamaica was left out of the fight.


Last Skirmishes

In 1803, the French evacuated the island of Hispaniola once and for all. Lord Nelson also returned to the Caribbean during this time. News of an incoming French fleet in 1805 caused martial law to be declared on Jamaica, but luckily the historic naval strength of the British ensured that further fighting would not reach the island.

The skill of Admiral Duckworth kept a French squadron at bay as well. Although this was a relief to all throughout Jamaica, the news was particularly good for the inhabitants of Kingston. Just three years earlier, Kingston had earned its charter as a city.

When the war ended in 1815, Britain regained Tobago and gained St. Lucia from the French. They also acquired three Dutch territories in South America, which make up what is now Guyana. The British would maintain these holdings in the Caribbean.

Fresh Leadership

Jamaica gained its longest-lasting governor in history in 1808 with the arrival of the Duke of Manchester. His term as the island's leader lasted nearly 20 years and covered many of the island's important moments.

Revolutionary Simón Bolivar visited Jamaica during this time, though he nearly died at the hands of his own servant, Pio. Bolivar's work was in freeing the South American colonies from Spanish rule, and Pio was bribed by Spain to kill Bolivar. However, in his attempt he stabbed a man who was sleeping in Bolivar's hammock, and not Bolivar himself.

Economic Improvements

Before the French Revolution, the French on Hispaniola had produced almost as much sugar as the British colonies combined. With the outbreak of the war, sugar production stopped on Hispaniola, and sugar prices shot up.

Coffee prices also rose in these years, and Jamaica gained a great deal of trade. In the United States, the War of 1812 also drove up prices and exports in Jamaica because the island was able to increase its trade with Cuba and the rest of Latin America.

Although these improvements didn't last after the war, this economic boom was good for Jamaica. However, an 1807 act of Parliament banned the trade of slaves for the British colonies, but this conflicted with the idea that slaves were necessary for the production of sugar. An 1808 act abolished the slave trade completely.

Although acts were made prohibiting slave trade in the early 1800s, it wouldn't be a long time until emancipation became an important topic in the islands. It was easy to maintain a system of slavery so far from the crown.

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