The Right Excellent Norman Washington Manley, MM, QC, BCL, LLD National Hero and Former Prime Minister of Jamaica
Norman Washington Manley (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 universal suffrage, which was granted by Parliament to the colony in 1944. He was a brilliant scholar and athlete, soldier (First World War) and lawyer. He identified himself with the cause of the workers at the time of the labour troubles of 1938 and donated time and advocacy to the cause.
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.
Early life and education
Norman Washington Manley was born at Roxborough, Manchester, on 4 July 1893 to parent Thomas Albert Samuel Manley, and wife Margaret. He studied at Jamaica College, and overseas at Jesus College, Oxford, England. He enlisted in the British Army in 1914 and served in an Artillery Regiment, gaining a Military Medal. 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.
In September 1938, Manley founded the People's National Party (PNP) and was elected its President annually until his retirement in 1969, 31 years later.
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 the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), 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 decisively 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 the island'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". Norman Manley died on 2 September 1969 at the age of 76.
Norman Manley was married to his cousin Edna nee Swithenbank (1 March 1900 – 2 February 1987) in 1921. They had two children together. Their second son, Michael Manley, went into politics and rose to become the fourth Prime Minister of Jamaica. The elder son, Douglas Manley, became a university lecturer, politician and government minister.
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 fraternity's Thirty-first General Convention in Chicago, Illinois.
Death and legacy
Norman Manley died on 2 September 1969, aged 76. Shortly before his death, Manley and Bustamente were proclaimed National Heroes of Jamaica.
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