Sharpe may not have achieved the nonviolent victory he hoped for, but within 18 months of that first signal fire in Jamaica, Parliament passed the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, effectively abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire. Three decades later, slavery would also be abolished in the United States, but at a far bloodier price. Like Gandhi after him, Sharpe had taken on the most powerful empire in the world, and achieved an astonishing capitulation.
Vilified by authorities for decades, the “Right Honorable” Samuel Sharpe is now a member of Jamaica’s Order of National Hero and his visage appears on the 50-dollar bill. “His face is on Jamaican currency,” as Zoellner puts it, “but he is a hero for the world.”