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A Jurisprudence of PowerVictorian Empire and the Rule of Law$
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Rande W. Kostal

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199551941

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199551941.001.0001

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‘The Country of Law’: Reconstructing the Morant Bay Uprising in England

‘The Country of Law’: Reconstructing the Morant Bay Uprising in England

(p.23) 1 ‘The Country of Law’: Reconstructing the Morant Bay Uprising in England
A Jurisprudence of Power

R. W. Kostal

Oxford University Press

In the wake of the bloody suppression under martial law of rebellious Jamaican peasants in November 1865, the English political class fiercely debated the moral, legal, and political implications of these events. By mid-December, the ‘Jamaica Committee’, a coalition of evangelical philanthropists, secular intellectuals, and Radical politicians, pressed the British government to investigate what had happened in Jamaica, whether there had been gross abuse of state authority, and whether the governor of Jamaica, Edward Eyre, might be criminally culpable for the summary execution of his erstwhile political antagonist, the Jamaican politician, George Gordon. In the daily and periodical press and in political circles, the Jamaica controversy was reconstructed principally as a legal question: Did a British colonial governor have the lawful authority to suspend civilian law, then to subject prisoners to summary trial and execution?

Keywords:   martial law, Jamaica controversy, Jamaica Committee

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