Colonial Politics and Constitutional Reform
This chapter discusses the prevailing politics in the West Indies including the constitutional reforms that were sought and attempted during British rule. At mid-century, the two dominant themes of West Indian politics were economic adversity and colour. Racial distinctions remained pervasive in the colonies despite Emancipation, and the white plantocracy remained socially powerful due to the economic security brought about by the plantations. This dominant politics in the West Indies was challenged by the rising middle-class men of colour, while the freed blacks remained adamant in their relatively little participation in political process. In addition, their interests continued to be ignored as the white and coloured groups remained elitist in their outlook. This chapter focuses on the politics of Jamaica. Unlike in other colonies, Jamaica's colonial politics was complex and power was fairly distributed between the partisan groups. By taking a closer look at the politics of Jamaica, the issues and circumstances that excited and divided colonial populations can be determined. In addition, the political development and the events in Jamaica can determine the constitutional reforms adopted in other colonies, as well as the abolition of assembly government in 1860s and 1870s West Indies.
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