Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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GORDON, George William, West Indian insurgent, died in Jamaica, Wisconsin, 23 October, 1865. He was a member of the colonial legislature in the Island of Jamaica in 1865, and had been an active leader in mass-meetings held by the colored people to give expression to various grievances. In the beginning of October, 1865, in the district of Morant bay, in the eastern portion of the island, an attempt was made to expel the Negroes from certain uncultivated lands of which they had taken possession. This called forth great indignation, and when on 7 October a Negro was tried on account of this affair before the court at Morant bay, a mob collected, threatening to liberate him. The court ordered the arrest of the leaders of the mob, but the latter overpowered the police. On 9 October the court issued writs for the arrest of twenty-eight of those charged with having participated in the riot, and on 11 October, when the prisoners were to be brought before the court, a new riot broke out. The volunteers who had been called out were overpowered, and many of them, together with several magistrates, massacred, and the Courthouse burned. According to an official statement of the governor, sixteen whites were killed and eighteen wounded. In several adjoining districts the Negroes rose and plundered the plantations, but, as far as known, only two persons were killed. The troops who had been sent into the interior returned, and reported that they had met no armed resistance, that they had not lost a single man, but had shot and hanged, without the least form of trial, hundreds of persons suspected of being implicated in the rebellion. The governor claimed to have received proofs of the guilt of Mr. Gordon as one of the chief instigators of the revolt, although the latter was a resident of Kingston, where there was no disturbance, and had not been absent from home during the riots. He was, however, arrested, taken to Morant bay and tried by a court-martial, who adjudged him guilty. The evidence brought forward against him stated that he had been seen on one Sunday at a certain chapel at which Paul Bogle, another so-called rebel leader, worshipped; that somebody had said that Mr. Gordon had desired the people of a certain district in the parish to hold a meeting" that certain placards in blank had been found in Mr. Gordon's portmanteau" that a placard headed "The State of the Island" (in which there was not a single word of disloyalty or sedition) had been penned by Mr. Gordon" that he had used some strong language in a meeting of the people he had some weeks before addressed in the parish of Vere" and that he had written a letter to one Chisholm, advising him, with reference to the sufferings of the people, to " pray to God for help and deliverance." Mr. Gordon protested solemnly against having had knowledge of or part in the plot. Nevertheless Governor Eyre sanctioned the finding of the court-martial, and Gordon was hanged on 23 October At, the close of that month the number of those shot and hanged by the soldiery without trial, or by order of the court-martial, was reported as reaching 2,000.
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