George William Gordon (1820 – 23 October 1865) Born to a slave mother and a planter father who was attorney to several sugar estates in Jamaica, George William Gordon was self-educated and a landowner in the parish of St. Thomas.In the face of attempts to crush the spirit of the freed people of Jamaica and again reduce them to slavery, Gordon entered politics. He faced severe odds, as the people whose interests he sought to serve did not qualify to vote.He subdivided his own lands, selling farm lots to the people as cheaply as possible, and organised a marketing system, through which they could sell their produce at fair prices.
Gordon urged the people to protest against and resist the oppressive and unjust conditions under which they were forced to live.
Gordon was arrested and charged for complicity in what is now called the Morant Bay Rebellion in 1865. He was illegally tried by Court Martial and, inspite of a lack of evidence, convicted and sentenced to death. He was executed on October 23, 1865.
In the aftermath of the labour rebellion of 1938, Gordon came to be seen as a precursor of Jamaican nationalism. This was helped by the play George William Gordon by Roger Mais, which compared Gordon’s death to the sacrifice of Jesus. In 1965, Gordon and Bogle were proclaimed National Heroes in a ceremony at Morant Bay. When Jamaica decimalized its currency in 1969, Gordon appeared on the ten-dollar note (now a coin).
The Parliament of Jamaica meets in the Gordon House, built in 1960 and named in his memory.
George William Gordon is mentioned in the song “Innocent Blood” and also “See them a come” by the reggae band Culture and in the song “Silver Tongue Show” by Groundation “Give Thanks and Praise” by Roy Rayon and “Prediction” and “Born Fe Rebel” by Steel Pulse and “Our Jamaican National Heroes” by Horace Andy.