Manley, Norman Washington (1893–1969)

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Manley, Norman Washington (1893–1969)

Norman Washington Manley was chief minister of Jamaica from 1955 to 1962, and a leading figure in the Jamaican independence movement. Manley was born on July 4, 1893, in Roxborough, Jamaica. He was an excellent athlete and talented scholar who won a prestigious Rhodes scholarship to attend Oxford University in 1914. While there he enlisted in the British army and fought in World War I. Upon his return to Jamaica, he witnessed the 1938 union strikes and riots, in which Jamaican workers lobbied for better conditions and pay. Their struggle inspired him to become involved in politics. That same year, he founded the left-wing People's National Party (PNP) and became the party's president. The PNP quickly became a dominant force in Jamaican politics.

In 1944 the efforts of Manley and his party resulted in the adoption of a new constitution that gave full suffrage to all Jamaican adults for the first time. In 1955 his party won the national elections and he became chief minister (later, prime minister) of Jamaica, a post that he held through 1962. That same year, Jamaica became a member of the Federation of the West Indies, an institution the British Crown had created to oversee governance of its Caribbean territories. Although he was in favor of remaining attached to the British Commonwealth through the Federation of the West Indies, in 1961 Manley agreed to hold a popular referendum to decide whether to remain with the federation. The people chose to separate, and this led Jamaica down the road to independence. On August 6, 1962, Jamaica was declared an independent nation. Although his term as prime minister ended in 1962, Manley continued to serve as leader of the PNP until his death on September 2, 1969. His son Michael Manley became prime minister of Jamaica in 1972.

See alsoJamaica; Manley, Michael Norman.


Manley, Norman Washington. Norman Washington Manley and the New Jamaica: Selected Speeches and Writings, 1938–1968. New York: Africana Publishing Company, 1971.

Thomas, Deborah A. Modern Blackness: Nationalism, Globalization, and the Politics of Culture in Jamaica. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004.

Walters, Ewart L. Resistance and Vision: The Making of Jamaica's National Heroes. Ottawa: Boyd McRubie Communications, 1997.

                                      Emily Berquist