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Paul Bogle (ca. 1820 – 24 October 1865) was a Jamaican Baptist deacon and is a National Hero of Jamaica. He was a leader of the 1865 Morant Bay Protests, which agitated for justice and fair treatment for all in Jamaica. Leading the Morant Bay rebellion, he was captured and hanged on 24 October 1865 in the Morant Bay Court House by the United Kingdom authorities.
Bogle became a friend of landowner and politician and fellow Baptist George William Gordon, who was instrumental in Bogle being appointed deacon of Stony Gut Baptist Church in 1864. In August 1865, Gordon attacked the British governor, Edward John Eyre, for sanctioning "everything done by the higher class to the oppression of the negroes".
Bogle concentrated his activity on improving the conditions of the poor. As social injustices and people's grievances grew, he led a group of small farmers 45 miles to discuss their grievances with Governor Eyre in Spanish Town, but they were denied an audience. This left the people of Stony Gut with a lack of confidence, and distrust for the Government, and Bogle’s supporters grew in number.
The Morant Bay Rebellion
The seeds for the Morant Bay Rebellion were sown on 7 October 1865 when Bogle and his supporters attended a trial for two men from Stony Gut. A black man was put on trial and imprisoned for trespassing on a long abandoned plantation. One member of Bogle’s group protested in the court, over the unjust arrest and was immediately arrested, angering the crowd further. He was rescued moments later, when Bogle and his men took to the market square, and retaliated. The police were severely beaten and forced to retreat that day.
On Monday, 9 October 1865, warrants were issued against Bogle and a number of others for riot and assault. The police arrived in Stony Gut to arrest Bogle but met with stiff resistance from the residents. They fought the police, again forcing them to retreat to Morant Bay.
A few days later on 11 October 1865 there was a vestry meeting in the Court House. Bogle and his followers, armed with sticks and machetes, went to the Court House. The authorities were shaken, and a few people in the crowd threw stones at the volunteer militia, who fired into the crowd, killing seven people. The crowd retaliated, setting fire to the Court House and nearby buildings. When the officials tried to leave the burning building they were killed by the irate crowd outside.
The reprisals came quickly; the troops destroyed Stony Gut, and Bogle's chapel. Gordon was arrested and taken by boat to Morant Bay, where he was tried for conspiracy and hanged on 23 October. Bogle was captured by the Maroon militia and taken to Morant Bay, where he was put on trial and hanged at the burnt-out courthouse the following day. In total over 400 Black residents were killed and many more flogged.
Back in Britain there was public outcry, and increased opposition from liberals against Eyre's handling of the situation, with accusations against him of murder. By the end of 1865 the "Governor Eyre Case" had become the subject of national debate. In January 1866, a Royal Commission was sent to investigate the events. Governor Eyre was suspended and recalled to England and eventually dismissed. Jamaica became a Crown Colony, being governed directly from England. The "Eyre Controversy" turned into a long and increasingly public concern, dividing well-known figures of the day, and possibly contributing to the fall of the government. In 1866 John Stuart Mill set up and chaired the Jamaica Committee to examine the atrocities committed in Jamaica in the course of ending the rebellion. Thomas Carlyle set up a rival committee to defend Eyre. His supporters included John Ruskin, Charles Kingsley, Charles Dickens and Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
The Morant Bay rebellion turned out to be one of the defining points in Jamaica's struggle for both political and economical enhancement. Bogle’s demonstration ultimately achieved its objectives and paved the way for new attitudes.
Bogle is depicted on the heads side of the Jamaican 10 cent coin. His face was also depicted on the Jamaican two-dollar bill, from 1969 until 1989, when it was phased out and the bill no longer used in Jamaican currency.
The Paul Bogle High School in the parish of his birth is named after him.
He is referenced in the name of the London-based publishing company Bogle–L'Ouverture.
In popular culture
Third World produced a song about Bogle's execution. Other reggae artists to have named and written songs in tribute to Paul Bogle include Lee Scratch Perry and a co-production between The Aggrovators, and the Revolutionaries.
In "So Much Things to Say", by Bob Marley & The Wailers, subsequently covered by Lauryn Hill, Marley mentions Bogle in the same breath as Jesus Christ and Marcus Garvey and states, "I'll never forget no way they turned their backs on Paul Bogle, so don't you forget no youth who you are and where you stand in the struggle."
The British rapper Akala references Bogle on the track "Maangamizi" from his album The Thieves Banquet, saying: "Probably don't know the Haitian revolution caused the French to sell half of America, nor know the role that Africans played in the Civil War for that same America. If you ain't heard of Nanny of the Maroons or Bogle, you probably believe what they told you".
- Mary Dixon, The Morant Bay Rebellion: The Story of George William Gordon and Paul Bogle, Birmingham, UK: Handprint, 1990, 20 pp.
- Gad Heuman, "The Killing Time": The Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica, University of Tennessee Press, 1995, 222 pp.
- Kevin O'Brien Chang, "Paul Bogle - Defender Of The People", The Gleaner, 25 July 2012.
- E. L. Bute and H. J. P. Harmer, The Black Handbook: The People, History and Politics of Africa and the African Diaspora, London & Washington: Cassell, 1997; p. 10.
- Dugdale-Pointon, T. (22 September 2008), "Paul Bogle, 1822-1865".
- "John Stuart Mill on the “atrocities” committed by Governor Eyre and his troops in putting down the Jamaica rebellion (1866)", The Portable Library of Liberty, 15 October 2007.
BY;GRADE6 2013NOV 25