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Between Assembly and Crown

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The Debate Over Jewish Taxation in Jamaica (1692–1740)

image of Journal of Early American History

This article explores the issue of discriminatory taxation against colonial Jamaican Jews and the trans-Atlantic Jewish lobby. Based on colonial correspondences, this article makes two main arguments. First, Collective Jewish taxation was debated in colonial correspondences to a far greater extent than its actual financial significance, as it became an issue symbolic of the growing rift between the Jamaican Assembly and the Board of Trade/Crown. Second, while Caribbean Jewish communities are usually understood as satellite dependencies on the Western Sephardic metropoles of Amsterdam or London, placing the Jewish tax in local Jamaican context reveals that colonial Jews deferred to Europe to intercede on their behalf by necessity rather than default. When local circumstances favored the Jews they attempted to lobby against it themselves.

Affiliations: 1: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem,


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