© The National Archives, London
Paul Bogle was the deacon of the Baptist Church in Stony Gut, a village in the parish of St Thomas-in-the-East in Jamaica. In October 1865, he led local protests against poor economic conditions and the political disenfranchisement of the majority African-Caribbean population. The protests reached their peak when Bogle and hundreds of followers marched on the local courthouse in Morant Bay demanding justice. They were fired on and seven protestors were killed. The courthouse was burnt down and several white people were killed.
The local peasants rose up in what became known as the Morant Bay Rebellion. Bogle's proclamation was delivered during a prayer meeting at Stony Gut. In it, Bogle called for war against the 'white people' who were coming for them, urging them to take up their guns and 'cutlisses' (as he spells it). He appealed to 'black skins' and called on them to gather together at Stony Gut.
In the proclamation, Bogle mentioned the Maroons at Hayfield. He hoped that they would join in the rebellion against the white people and the colonial government. They did not. Instead, the Maroons honoured the treaties that they had signed with the British, and played a key role in helping to put the Morant Bay Rebellion down – as did the West India Regiment.
In total, more than 400 civilians were killed and more than 1,000 houses burnt. Bogle himself was caught by the Maroons and hanged on 24 October, a week after his proclamation.
In 1969, five years after Jamaica had become independent of Britain, Bogle was declared one of the country's national heroes.