am Sharpe was a creole slave. He was born in Montego Bay in 1801. African Slavery in Jamaica started with the Spaniards. They brought in Africans to replace the Arawaks who had died out - been killed. The English also brought many people to Jamaica from West Africa to work their sugar estates. The owners of the sugar estates bought the Africans like they bought cattle. Jamaica grew more sugar cane than any other country. The owners sold the sugar in England and it made them very rich so of course they did not want slavery to end.
Sam Sharpe learnt to read and write, and he read many newspapers. He learnt from the newspapers that some people in England wanted to end slavery. Most slaves did not learn to read or write because their masters did not want them to.
Sam Sharpe joined the Baptist church which was against slavery. He soon became a Bible-class leader, because he could read, and he was a good speaker. The Bible told him that all men are equal. It also says,
''No man can serve two masters''
Sam Sharpe liked this text a lot, and used it often. Sam Sharpe thought all slaves should be free and he told the people at the church. He spoke what was in peoples minds, so they listened to him. Sam Sharpe wanted the slaves to become free.
Sam Sharpe had a brave plan. He did not want people to fight. He wanted the slaves to sit down one day and do no work until they got paid for their work. He told people about his plan. People went to other churches to tell about it.
Sam Sharpe knew that ripe sugar-cane must be cut quickly or it will spoil. The cane would be ripe after Christmas. So Sharpe wanted the slaves to sit down after the Christmas holiday and do no work. He thought the owners would pay the slaves to cut the cane, so it would not spoil. Sam Sharpe was the first Jamaican who made a plan for people to stop work, to try to get paid properly.
We still do this.
Some slaves did not wait to try Sam Sharpe plan.
They were very angry. Just after Christmas in 1831, they burnt Kensington Estate in St. James. Then other slaves burnt many other estates. Some slaves got guns but mostly they tried not to hurt the owners so only a few of the owners were killed.
The missionaries were against Slavery, so Sam Sharpe thought that they would help him. In fact, they tried to stop him. They had to be careful because they knew most of the estate owners did not want them in Jamaica.
The Government sent soldiers to the estates. They killed some slaves and took many prisoners. The slaves did not have enough guns. They had no military training. They were not organized, and they had not planned how to fight. The prisoners were taken to court. The owners spoke against them. Then more than 300 slaves were executed. Some slaves followed Sam Sharpe''s plan - they did not work.
But the plan failed because some of the slaves had burnt the estates and used violence. So the peaceful sit-in strike that Sharpe had planned, could not work. Sam Sharpe gave himself up. He was taken to court, then put in prison. He was executed in Market Square in Montego Bay in 1832.
The Christmas rebellion of 1831 was the last great big fight against slavery in Jamaica. The Government in England knew that the slaves would not put up with slavery any more . Most people in England wanted to end it. It was abolished in 1834. Sam Sharpe believed that people could fight together against injusice. Sharpe and his followers helped to make slavery end quickly after the rebellion. They helped to make Jamaica free.