African History

The Baptist War – The Violent Revolt Of 60,000 Enslaved Africans In Jamaica (1831-1832)

The Baptist WarThe Baptist War
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The documentation of the journey of the Black man throughout history is one important aspect of our mission and vision. We take pride in providing our people with the history of Africa way before Africans encountered the Europeans and the Arabs.

More so, we take exceptional pride in giving accounts of the many revolts and wars Africans went to in a bid to defend their land and people from European terrorists during slavery and colonization.

The Baptist war, also called the Christmas Rebellion, was one out of many resistances put up by the Black man to regain his freedom and assert himself in a world that was bent on annihilating him.

The Baptist war lasted for 11 days, and brought together over 60,000 Blacks in Jamaica, to fight for their freedom. The number that participated in the rebellion were not up to half the population of the enslaved Blacks in Jamaica – records have it that they numbered around 300,000 between 1831 – 1832.

The reason why it was called the Baptists war was that the majority of the blacks who revolted against their oppressive European captors were from the Baptist Church.

The Baptist war had 60,000 Jamaicans, 300 slaves and was tagged the ‘Christian rebellion’. It was an eleven-day Rebellion and was considered the largest slave rebellion in the British Caribbean.

The uproar that led to the rebellion started shortly after Christmas Day December 25th, the reason why it is called “Christian Rebellion”. It is equally called the Baptist war because many of the rebels were of the Baptist denomination.

Like most British colonies, the whites in Jamaica were outnumbered by the black slaves. With the ratio of 12:1, the enslaved overwhelmed the whites on the island, which was by far the largest British Caribbean colony. Tensions became quite high because of the abolition of slavery was being debated in the British Parliament.

Jamaican planters, disturbed at that prospect, made provocative speeches and wrote articles in newspapers attacking emancipation. These actions evoked the discontent and agitation among the slave majority. They revolted partly in 1831 because of an economic depression that affected some underprivileged whites and made them partners of the rebels.



Samuel “Daddy” Sharpe an enslaved leader whose movement had been restricted around the island was the main planner and organizer of the revolt. Samuel Sharpe only had the freedom to travel on a traditional holiday or religious service, then he used this little freedom to discuss and plan for the actual revolt.

In December 1831, Sharpe selected a group of leaders to stay behind and discuss the plans for the revolt at the end of a regular prayer meeting. He encourages his followers citing examples from Guayana and Rebellions on the Caribbean Island and Demerara Slave Revolt in 1823. Sharpe vowed out to see through his outlined plans, even swear on the bible.

On the 25th of December 1823, the leaders of the uprising decided to go on strike with the demands for more working wage and freedom of time. They vowed never returning to work until the plantation owners agree on the demands. The full rebellion came about when the planters rebuffed their demands. Rebellions broke out of Kensington Estate near Montego on Monday, December 27, 1831, as sugar cane fields were set ablaze.

The whites who did not travel on Christmas vacation escaped to Montego and nearby communities. The rebel military group is known as “The Black Regiment” led by a slave now known only as Colonel Johnson also included Christian Rebellion. On December 28, 1823, the Black Regiment defeated a unit of the local militia who retreated to Montego Bay while the regiment invaded a number of estates.

The Black Regiment urged other slaves to join them in burning cane fields and plantation homes as they continue. They faced a counter-attack from another smaller Black military unit of about one hundred and fifty rebels from the western end of Island as the riot gained more rhythm. One white and approximately twenty-five rebels were killed in the conflict as they got defeated.

In the first week of January 1832, things became calm as the Christian Rebellion ended the revolt. But the sporadic resistance persisted for a couple of months as the rebels resorted to guerilla tactics while fighting in Jamaica’s mountainous interior.

The Baptist War pushed Great Britain to adopt full freedom throughout all of its colonies, including the West Indies and Jamaica in 1838. Stats have it that, over two hundred rebels were killed along with fourteen free blacks who supported the rebellion at the end of the fighting.


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