Date of Graduation

7-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in History (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

History

Advisor

Caree Banton

Committee Member

Todd Cleveland

Second Committee Member

Ren Pepitone

Keywords

Age of Revolutions, Baptist War, Black Religious Leaders, Black Baptist Leaders, Caribbean literature, Emancipation, Jamaica, Rebellion, Religion

Abstract

Abolitionists from the Eighteenth Century to the mid-Nineteenth Century tended to be remembered by William Wilberforce, Joseph Soul, Thomas Clarkson, Samuel Bowly, and William Lloyd Garrison. All of these men have been extremely well represented throughout scholarship and the archives. The voices that are often left out of the archives are the men and women who fought on the frontlines for their freedom. Enslaved men and women fought to the death for their freedom and are often overshadowed by White missionaries and abolitionists in the archives. Black leaders often have less representation throughout history and scholarship due to the lack of archival sources on these men and women. The Baptist War of 1831 was credited to having started because of the inspirations of Black religious leaders such as Samuel Sharpe and George Taylor; however, the historiography on the Baptist War has an overwhelming amount of information on British missionaries such as William Knibb, Thomas Burchell, Henry Bleby, and James Phillippo. This is due to the overwhelming archival sources on these men and the lack of sources on the Black religious leaders. Black religious leaders used Christianity as a means to organize, inform, inspire, and justify their plans of resistance against slavery. By exploring personal documentation, including diaries, letters, and memories, along with the court cases, testimonies, confessions, and other legal documents directly following the Baptist War of 1831, this thesis will show how Black Baptist leaders in Jamaica used Christianity and other religions to house, organize, justify, and empower their plans for acts of resistance such as the Baptist War. It also will show that following this rebellion, the British officials gave credit and legacy to the British missionaries, thus denying the Black Baptist leaders their agency and causing there to be hardly any archival remembrance of these leaders.

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