The 1938 Labor Rebellion and the Birth of Modern Jamaica
By Colin A. Palmer
Freedom's Children is the first comprehensive history of Jamaica's watershed 1938 labor rebellion and its aftermath. Colin Palmer argues that, a hundred years after the abolition of slavery, Jamaica's disgruntled workers challenged the oppressive status quo and forced a morally ossified British colonial society to recognize their grievances. The rebellion produced two rival leaders who dominated the political life of the colony through the achievement of independence in 1962. Alexander Bustamante, a moneylender, founded the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union and its progeny, the Jamaica Labour Party. Norman Manley, an eminent barrister, led the struggle for self-government and with others established the People's National Party.
Palmer describes the ugly underside of British colonialism and details the persecution of Jamaican nationalists. He sheds new light on the nature of Bustamante's collaboration with the imperial regime, the rise of the trade-union movement, the struggle for constitutional change, and the emergence of party politics in a modernizing Jamaica.
About the Author
Colin A. Palmer is a leading historian of the Caribbean and the African diaspora. Freedom’s Children joins Palmer’s Eric Williams and the Making of the Modern Caribbean and Cheddi Jagan and the Politics of Power in chronicling the history of the Caribbean in the wake of British and U.S. imperialism.
"Freedom's Children is carefully organized, the research thorough, and the analysis insightful, remarkably fair-minded, and persuasive. Despite the richness and complexity of the story, Palmer manages to tell it in a beautiful, engaging, and flowing narrative style from beginning to end. It is an outstanding achievement, a heroic labor of love, and a fitting monument to the struggles of the Jamaican people."
--Winston James, University of California, Irvine
"Freedom's Children provides a detailed narrative and analysis of Jamaican political history between 1938 and 1944, centering on the roles, actions, ideas, and rivalry of Bustamante and Manley. Palmer's scholarship is impeccable. The book makes an important contribution to the historiography of modern Jamaica and, by extension, the Anglophone Caribbean."
--Bridget Brereton, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad & Tobago