Two paired broadsides titled "Gordon and Eyre" denouncing former Jamaican governor John Edward Eyre.

Two paired broadsides titled "Gordon and Eyre" denouncing former Jamaican governor John Edward Eyre.

Birmingham: E.C. Osborne, printer, undated, yet 1866.

Two sheets measuring 690 x 1080 mm. each; neatly folded.

An intrepid explorer caught in the aftermath of the Jamaican uprising

Two spectacular, large broadsides denouncing the conduct of former Australian explorer John Edward Eyre, in his role as governor of Jamaica during the civil unrest of 1865. Eyre is remembered as an intrepid explorer of the Australian interior, revealing vast grazing lands in New South Wales and overlanding parched country in the new colony of South Australia. He departed Australia in 1844, and after a period as Lieutenant Governor of New Zealand accepted the position of Governor of Jamaica in 1861.

Two spectacular, large broadsides denouncing the conduct of former Australian explorer John Edward Eyre, in his role as governor of Jamaica during the civil unrest of 1865. Eyre is remembered as an intrepid explorer of the Australian interior, revealing vast grazing lands in New South Wales and overlanding parched country in the new colony of South Australia. He departed Australia in 1844, and after a period as Lieutenant Governor of New Zealand accepted the position of Governor of Jamaica in 1861.

Eyre took up the position at a time of significant unrest. The 1838 emancipation decree had had the unwanted effect of causing widespread social displacement and acute poverty amongst the former slave population of Jamaica, and in October 1865 there was a serious riot at Morant Bay. Eyre interpreted the events as a precursor to outright rebellion and declared martial law. Brutal reprisals against the former slave population followed - with floggings, wholesale destruction of dwellings and over 600 executions.

Prior to the riots Eyre had clashed with George William Gordon, a member of the legislature of African descent. In the aftermath Eyre charged Gordon with instigating civil unrest and had him summarily tried and executed. Gordon was widely respected in Jamaica, and his execution sparked acrimonious public controversy in England: "Eyre was relieved of his governorship and recalled to England, where he became the centre of intellectual warfare between the Jamaica Committee supported by J. S. Mill, Thomas Huxley, Thomas Hughes, Herbert Spencer and others and the Eyre Defence Committee supported by Carlyle, Charles Kingsley, Tennyson, Ruskin and others. Proceedings were brought against Eyre three times, but each time dismissed; Eyre's interpretation of martial law has become a celebrated case in legal history" (ADB).

This broadside, so large that it had to be printed on two sheets, denounced Eyre for his defamation of Gordon following the execution, and staunchly defends the deceased man's moral integrity. Gordon's reputation was supported by prominent Jamaican citizens including missionaries, ministers, lawyers and politicians, the more important of whom have added their names.

The scale and intensity of the controversy reflect the groundswell in changing attitudes to race and colonial government in English middle-class society. Ironically, Eyre was appointed protector of the Aborigines while stationed at Moorundie on the River Murray, and enjoyed a reputation for moderation during this time. Furthermore, when Eyre returned to England from Australia in 1844, he took two Aboriginal boys under his care to be educated at his own expense.

Price (AUD): $6,850.00  other currencies     Ref: #4202847

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