Jamaica: Self Government

The featured image is of a stamp issued between 1945 and 1946 to commemorate the New Constitution and Self-Government of Jamaica. The issue is typical of many following World War II that introduced sweeping decolonisation. As for many British colonies in the Caribbean, this represented a step in the transition from a Crown Colony to a fully independent state.

Jamaica had originally been a colony of the Spanish Empire from 1509. During the Anglo-Spanish War (1654-1660), a large British military contingent landed at Kingston Harbour and took the island on 11 May 1655. Jamaica remained a British Crown Colony until 20 November 1944 when the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) led a government that enacted a new constitution and organised an Executive Council with a legislature chaired by the newly created position of Premier.

The New Constitution commemorative issue was released on 20 August 1945 and featured seven denominations (six designs):

  • 1½d Courthouse, Falmouth [Sepia]
  • 2d King Charles II and King George VI [Green]
  • 3d Institute of Jamaica [Ultramarine]
  • 4½d House of Assembly [Slate]
  • 2s Labour and Learning [Red-Brown]
  • 5s Scroll of New Constitution and Flag [Indigo]
  • 10s Institute of Jamaica [Green]

The King, George VI, remained Head of State and his portrait features on five of the designs. His portrait is missing from only the 2s Labour and Learning design – interestingly, it was the British West Indian labour unrest of 1934-39 that generated nationalist sentiment and set the country on the path to independence. Three of the designs feature buildings of national importance for self governance. Seemingly in an attempt to acknowledge some continuity of British influence, the design featuring King Charles II and King George VI (2d denomination) commemorates the 280 years between the First House of Assembly (during the reign of Charles II) and the New Constitution.

Following World War II, several constitutional amendments were introduced under the premiership of Norman Manley to speed up the process of decolonisation. These amendments facilitated greater self-governance and the establishment of a cabinet of ministers under a Prime Minister of Jamaica. Independence was granted on 6 August with the Queen as Head of State.

To view postal issues of Jamaica, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Published by nigelmandsphilatelycom

Nigel Matthews has been a philatelist for more than 30 years. He has a particular interest in the postal history of the Caribbean including associated British Commonwealth countries (incl. Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Leeward Islands, Monserrat, St Lucia, St Vincent, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos) as well as Cuba, Danish West Indies, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Martinique, Netherlands Antilles and Puerto Rico.

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