JAMAICA - History



Like the rest of the world, Jamaica in 1929 began experiencing a depression in its economic growth. This resulted in a continuous decline in social conditions. By 1938, the workers in an effort to improve their situation went on strike and related upheavals ended with the death of a few workers. The 1938 labour riots was another turning point in the history of the people of Jamaica.

Alexander Bustamante who emerged as leader of the new labour movement founded the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) later to be associated with the Jamaica Labour Party. In 1938 Norman Manley, the island's foremost barrister, and a cousin of Bustamante formed the People's National Party. Manley led the country to Self Government and Bustamante later became the first Prime Minister of Independent Jamaica.

By 1944, adult suffrage was granted giving all males and females 21 years of age and over, the right to vote. The journey towards Self Government had begun.

The first election under Universal Adult Suffrage was held in 1944 and the Jamaica Labour Party won 25 out of a total of 32 seats.

The Federation of the West Indies was launched in 1959 and Jamaica was a part of this group. In 1961, a referendum was called to determine whether or not the people of Jamaica should remain a part of the Federation. The Jamaican people voted for Independence.

In January 1962, a draft of the Independence Constitution was brought before both Houses and after a full debate was unanimously approved. It was also agreed that the 300 year old Coat of Arms would be retained and the Latin motto "Indus Uterque Serviet Uni" changed to one in English "Out of Many One People".

At midnight 5th August 1962 the British Flag was lowered and the Jamaican Flag was hoisted for the first time. On the 6th of August 1962 Jamaica was given its independence. Sir Kenneth Blackburne was the last Colonial Governor and the first Governor General. Afterwards, Sir Clifford Campbell, formerly President of the Senate, became the first Jamaican Governor General.


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