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Norman Washington Manley

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Norman Washington Manley founded the People’s National Party which later was tied to the Trade Union Congress and the N.W. U.

Norman Washington Manley MM QC National Hero of Jamaica (4 July 1893 – 2 September 1969), was a Jamaican statesman. A Rhodes Scholar, Manley became one of Jamaica's leading lawyers in the 1920s. With his cousin, Alexander Bustamante, Manley was an advocate of the universal suffrage that was granted the colony in 1944.

He founded the left-wing People's National Party which later was tied to the Trade Union Congress and the National Workers Union, together with Bustamante, in 1938, and led it in every election from 1944 to 1967. Their efforts resulted in the New Constitution of 1944, granting full adult suffrage. He served as the colony's Chief Minister from 1955 to 1959, and as Premier from 1959 to 1962. He was a proponent of the island's participation in the Federation of the West Indies but bowed to pressure to hold a referendum in 1961 which resulted in Jamaica withdrawing from the union.

Norman Washington Manley was born in Roxborough in Jamaica's Manchester parish, on 4 July 1893. His father, Thomas Albert Samuel Manley, the out-of-wedlock son of an English merchant from Yorkshire and a former slave, worked as an agricultural businessman who sold Jamaican spices and fruit to the United States. Norman Manley's mother, Margaret Shearer, was the daughter of a pen-keeper of Irish ancestry and his mixed-race wife.

Manley was a brilliant scholar, soldier and athlete, and studied law at Jesus College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. He served in the Royal Field Artillery during World War I, and afterwards returned to Jamaica to serve as a barrister. He identified with the workers at the time of the labour troubles of 1938, donating his time and advocacy to assist them.

Manley and the PNP supported the trade union movement, then led by Alexander Bustamante, while leading the demand for universal adult suffrage. When Suffrage came, Manley had to wait ten years and two terms before his party was elected to office. He was a strong advocate of the Federation of the West Indies, established in 1958, but when Sir Alexander Bustamante declared that opposition Jamaica Labour Party would take Jamaica out of the Federation, Norman Manley, already renowned for his integrity and commitment to democracy, called a referendum, unprecedented in Jamaica, to let the people decide.

The vote was decidedly against Jamaica’s continued membership of the Federation. Norman Manley, after arranging Jamaica’s orderly withdrawal from the union, set up a joint committee to decide on a constitution for separate independence for Jamaica. He himself chaired the committee with great distinction and then led the team that negotiated Jamaica's independence from Britain.

The issue settled, Manley again went to the people. He lost the ensuing election to the JLP and gave his last years of service as Leader of the Opposition, establishing definitively the role of the parliamentary opposition in a developing nation. In his last public address to an annual conference of the PNP, he said: "I say that the mission of my generation was to win self-government for Jamaica. To win political power which is the final power for the black masses of my country from which I spring. I am proud to stand here today and say to you who fought that fight with me, say it with gladness and pride: Mission accomplished for my generation".

"And what is the mission of this generation?… It is…reconstructing the social and economic society and life of Jamaica".

As premier, Manley renegotiated a government contract with bauxite companies, leading to a sixfold increase in revenue. His government also set the dominant economic agenda for the future in Jamaica by establishing numerous statutory boards, government bodies, and quasi-government authorities to regulate and play an active role in industry.

Shortly before his death he was proclaimed a National Hero of Jamaica, along with Bustamante, to join the black nationalist Marcus Garvey, nineteenth century rebel Paul Bogle, and nineteenth century politician George William Gordon. Due to respiratory illness, Manley retired from politics on his birthday in 1969, and he died later that year, on 2 September 1969. His tomb was decorated by critically acclaimed Jamaican sculptor, Christopher Gonzalez.

Manley was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Manley's speech entitled, To Unite in a Common Battle was delivered in 1945 at the fraternty's Thirty-first General Convention in Chicago, Illinois.

He married his cousin Edna Manley (1 March 1900 – 2 February 1987) in 1921. His second son, Michael Manley, went on to become the fourth Prime Minister of Jamaica




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Shares with cousin Alexander Bustamante, the honor of being one of the two ‘Founding Fathers’ of Jamaica’s Independence, attained peacefully, August 6, 1962.

Physically attractive with athletic build, dignified bearing, sharp features and piercing eyes. Acknowledged as profound thinker, articulate spokesman, brilliant advocate, and skilful negotiator. Widely acknowledged for impeccable integrity and statesmanlike conduct. He has been described as a man of many parts and many accomplishments.

He studied at Jamaica College, and overseas at Jesus College, Oxford, England. A Rhodes Scholar, he distinguished himself at Oxford and was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn in 1921. There, he gained the Certificate of Honour in the Bar Finals and copped the Lee Prizeman Award

Admitted to the Jamaican Bar in 1922.

Enlisted in the British Army in 1914 and served in an Artillery Regiment, gaining a Military Medal.

Co-founder with O. T. Fairclough the People’s National Party (1938) and President throughout his political career, until his retirement from politics, due to illness, July 4, 1969

He was an outstanding schoolboy athlete, excellent horseman, and military marksman

July 4, 1893, in Manchester, Jamaica

Thomas Albert Samuel Manley, and wife Margaret

Edna nee Swithenbank, 1921 (d. Feb. 10, 1987)

Douglas and Michael

September 2, 1969

76-years old

Norman Washington Manley was born in Roxborough, Manchester, Jamaica, on July 4, 1893. His parents Thomas Albert Samuel Manley, and Margaret Ann Shearer, were both of mixed race. He was well educated, attending high school, before going to Jamaica College. He made headlines as an outstanding athlete, as well as excelling in his studies.

After graduating, In 1914 he was awarded the Rhodes scholarship to attend Oxford University. By the time he arrived in England, the First World War had begun. He enlisted as a gunner in the Royal Artillery leading to a promotion to corporal. Manley survived the war, sadly his brother, Roy, didn’t, and was awarded the Military Medal. He returned to England where he continued his studies, and became a lawyer. He fell in love and married his cousin, Edna Swithenbank, an artist and sculptress, they later had two sons, Douglas and Michael. Manley returned to Jamaica in 1922, a Rhodes Scholar, and went on to become one of Jamaica's leading lawyers.

Manley's involvement in the political life started with the 1938 riots. Tensions in Jamaica were running high. Workers Unions were organising frequent strikes and demonstrating over poor working conditions and for better pay. It was at this time Bustamante, champion of the workers was arrested after a series of strikes, and Manley was able to mediate and successfully negotiate on his behalf.

Manley founded the People’s National Party in 1938 (which he led in every election from 1944 to 1967), and was initially supported by Bustamante. Together they worked towards Universal Adult suffrage (the right of all adults to vote), Self government, as well as workers rights. Their efforts resulted in the New Constitution of 1944 granting full Adult Suffrage.Bustamante and the PLP won the following elections, and it was ten years since suffrage was granted that Manley and his party (PNP) came to power. In 1955 Manley was elected Chief Minister and served as the colony's Chief Minister from 1955 to 1959, and as Premier from 1959 to 1962.He was a strong supporter of the Federation of the West Indies, established in 1958, but when Bustamante and the PLP withdrew support, Manley called for a referendum in 1961. The vote was against Jamaica’s continued membership of the Federation. Manley was at the forefront of negotiating Jamaica’s withdrawal from the union, and went on to form a committee working towards a constitution for separate independence for Jamaica.The JLP won the election and led the country into independence. Manley became Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives until he retired. He was succeeded by his son Michael as President of the Peoples National Party, who later became Prime Minister.Illness forced Manley to retire from politics in 1969. He died on September 2, 1969 at the age of 76. Norman Washington Manley was declared a National Hero, and his dedication to the people can be seen with the memorial on the site of his grave at National Heroes Park Kingston, Saint John, Jamaica. There are statues of him at North Parade, Palisadoes International Airport. The Jamaican five dollar coin bears his insignia.

Norman Washington Manley

Roxborough Manchester, ,

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Categories: Jamaica