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Encyclopedia > Eric Williams
Dr. Eric Williams
Dr. Eric Williams

Dr. Eric Eustace Williams (September 25, 1911March 29, 1981) was the first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. He served from 1956 until his death in 1981. He was also a noted Caribbean historian. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (595x728, 58 KB) From http://www. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (595x728, 58 KB) From http://www. ... September 25 is the 268th day of the year (269th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1911 (MCMXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar). ... March 29 is the 88th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (89th in leap years). ... 1981 (MCMLXXXI) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... This page lists prime ministers of Trinidad and Tobago. ... 1956 (MCMLVI) was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1981 (MCMLXXXI) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... West Indian redirects here. ...


Williams was born the son of minor civil servant, but his mother was a descendant of the French Creole elite. He was educated at Queen's Royal College in Port of Spain, where he excelled at academics and football. He won an island scholarship in 1932 which allowed him to attend Oxford University where he received his doctorate in 1938. Williams was in part inspired by C.L.R. James and his doctoral thesis, titled The Economic Aspect of the West Indian Slave Trade and Slavery, owed much to the influence of James's The Black Jacobins (1938) This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Queens Royal College Queens Royal College is one of the oldest secondary schools in Trinidad and Tobago. ... Port of Spain, population 49,000 (2000), is the capital of Trinidad and Tobago and the countrys second largest city by population, after San Fernando. ... Football is a ball game played between two teams of eleven players, each attempting to win by scoring more goals than their opponent. ... Scholarship is the pursuit of academic research, whether in the arts and humanities or sciences, and in all such fields means deep mastery of a subject, often through study at institutions of higher education. ... Year 1932 (MCMXXXII) was a leap year starting on Friday (the link will take you to a full 1932 calendar). ... The University of Oxford, located in the city of Oxford in England, is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. ... Year 1938 (MCMXXXVIII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will take you to calendar). ... Cyril Lionel Robert James (4 January 1901–19 May 1989) was a journalist, and a prominent socialist theorist and writer. ...

Contents

Political contributions

In 1939 Williams accepted a position at Howard University, becoming a full professor by 1947. In 1944 he was appointed to the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission. In 1948 Williams returned to Trinidad as the Commission's Deputy Chairman of the Caribbean Research Council. In Trinidad Williams delivered a series of educational lectures for which he became famous. In 1955 after disagreements between Williams and the Commission, the Commission elected not to renew his contract. 1939 (MCMXXXIX) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display full year calendar). ... Howard University is a Carnegie Doctoral/Research extensive historically black university in Washington, D.C. Affectionately known as Black Harvard, Howard was established in 1867 by congressional order and named after Oliver O. Howard. ... 1947 (MCMXLVII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (the link is to a full 1947 calendar). ... 1944 (MCMXLIV) was a leap year starting on Saturday. ... 1948 (MCMXLVIII) was a leap year starting on Thursday (the link is to a full 1948 calendar). ... 1955 (MCMLV) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Birth of party politics

On January 15, 1956 Williams inaugurated his own political party, the People's National Movement. Until this time his campaign of lectures had been carried out under the auspices of the Political Education Movement (PEM) a branch of the Teachers Education and Cultural Association, a group which had been founded in the 1940s as an alternative to the official teachers’ union. The PNM’s first document was its constitution. Unlike the other political parties of the time, the PNM was a highly organised, hierarchical body. Its second document was The People’s Charter’ in which the party strove to separate itself from the transitory political assemblages which had thus far been the norm in Trinidadian politics. January 15 is the 15th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... The Peoples National Movement is the ruling conservative political party in Trinidad and Tobago. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


In elections held eight months later, on September 24, the PNM won 13 of the 24 elected seats in the Legislative Council, defeating 6 of the 16 incumbents running for re-election. Although the PNM did not secure a majority in the 31-member Legislative Council, he was able to convince the Secretary of State for the Colonies to allow him to name the five appointed members of the council (despite the opposition of the Governor Sir Edward Betham Beetham). This gave him a clear majority in the Legislative Council. Williams was thus elected Chief Minister and was also able to get all seven of his ministers elected. A Legislative Council in British constitutional thought is the second-to-top tier of a government led by a Governor-General, Governor or a Lieutenant-Governor, inferior to an Executive Council and equal to or superior to a Legislative Assembly. ... For other uses, see Governor (disambiguation). ... Sir Edward Betham Beetham (1905-1979) served as Governor of Trinidad and Tobago between 1955 and 1960. ...


Federation and independence

In the post-war mood of decolonisation, the decision was made to create an independent West Indies Federation out of the British West Indies. British Guiana (now Guyana) and British Honduras (now Belize) chose to opt out of the Federation, leaving Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago as the dominant players. Most political parties in the various territories aligned themselves into one of two Federal political parties - the West Indies Federal Labour Party (led by Norman Manley) and the Democratic Labour Party (led by Manley's cousin, Sir Alexander Bustamante). The PNM affiliated with the former, while several of opposition parties (the People's Democratic Party, the Trinidad Labour Party and the Party of Political Progress Groups) aligned themselves with the DLP, and soon merged to form the Democratic Labour Party of Trinidad and Tobago. Decolonization generally refers to a movement following the Second World War in which the various European colonies of the world were granted independence. ... Motto To dwell together in unity Anthem God Save the Queen Capital Chaguaramas Language(s) English Government Constitutional monarchy Queen Elizabeth II Governor-General Lord Hailes Prime minister Grantley Herbert Adams¹ History  - Established January 3, 1958  - Disestablished May 31, 1962 Area  - 1960 20,253 km2 7,820 sq mi Population... Roadtown, Tortola The term British West Indies refers to territories in and around the Caribbean which were colonised by Great Britain. ... British Guiana and its boundary lines, 1896 Flag of British Guiana British Guiana was the name of the British colony on the northern coast of South America, now the independent nation of Guyana. ... Flag of British Honduras British Honduras was the former name of a British colony on the east coast of Central America just to the south-east of Mexico, now the independent nation of Belize. ... The West Indies Federal Labour Party was one of the two Federal parties in the short-lived West Indies Federation. ... Norman Washington Manley (July 4, 1893 - September 2, 1969), was a Jamaican statesman. ... The Democratic Labour Party was one of the two Federal parties in the short-lived West Indies Federation. ... Sir William Alexander Clarke Bustamante (February 24, 1884 - August 6, 1977) was a conservative Jamaican politician and labor leader. ... The Democratic Labour Party was the main opposition party in Trinidad and Tobago between 1957 and 1971. ...


The DLP victory in the 1958 Federal Elections and subsequent poor showing by the PNM in the 1959 County Council Elections soured Williams on the Federation. Lord Hailes (Governor-General of the Federation) also over-ruled two PNM nominations to the Federal Senate in order to balance a disproportionately WIFLP-dominated Senate. When Bustamante withdrew Jamaica from the Federation, this left Trinidad and Tobago in the untenable position of having to provide 75% of the Federal budget while having less than half the seats in the Federal government. In a famous speech, Williams declared one from ten leaves nought. Following the adoption of a resolution to that effect by the PNM General Council on January 15, 1962, Williams withdrew Trinidad and Tobago from the West Indies Federation. This action led the British government to dissolve the Federation. Elections in Trinidad and Tobago gives information on election and election results in Trinidad and Tobago. ... Elections in Trinidad and Tobago gives information on election and election results in Trinidad and Tobago. ... Patrick George Thomas Buchan-Hepburn, Baron Hailes (April 2, 1901-November 5, 1974) was the first and only Governor-General of the short-lived West Indies Federation, from January 3, 1958, to May 31, 1962, when the country was disbanded. ... Governor-General (or Governor General) is a term used both historically and currently to designate the appointed representative of a head of state or their government for a particular territory, historically in a colonial context, but no longer necessarily in that form. ... January 15 is the 15th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1962 (MCMLXII) was a common year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1962 calendar). ...


In 1961 the PNM had introduced the Representation of the People Bill. This Bill was designed to modernise the electoral system by instituting permanent registration of voters, identification cards, voting machines and revised electoral boundaries. These changes were seen by the DLP as an attempt to disenfranchise illiterate rural voters through intimidation, to rig the elections through the use of voting machines, to allow Afro-Caribbean immigrants from other islands to vote, and to gerrymander the boundaries to ensure victory by the PNM. Opponents of the PNM saw "proof" of these allegations when A.N.R. Robinson was declared winner of the Tobago seat in 1961 with more votes than there were registered voters, and in the fact that the PNM was able to win every subsequent election until the 1980 Tobago House of Assembly Elections. 1961 (MCMLXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (the link is to a full 1961 calendar). ... A voting machine is a device to record and register votes to be counted as per any voting system, with or without printing a ballot for the voter to verify. ... Afro-Caribbean may refer to: the British Afro-Caribbean community other members of the African diaspora in or from the Carribean This is a disambiguation page: a list of articles associated with the same title. ... Redrawing electoral districts in this example creates a guaranteed 3-to-1 advantage for Party 1. ... Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson (born 16 December 1926 in Calder Hall, Tobago) was President of Trinidad and Tobago from 19 March 1997 to 17 March 2003. ... Castara village beach looking south, Tobago Tobago is the smaller of the two main islands that make up the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. ... Elections in Trinidad and Tobago gives information on election and election results in Trinidad and Tobago. ...


The 1961 elections gave the PNM 57% of the votes and 20 of the 30 seats. This two-thirds majority allowed them to draft the Independence Constitution without input from the DLP. Although supported by the Colonial Office, independence was blocked by the DLP, until Williams was able to make a deal with DLP leader Rudranath Capildeo which strengthened the rights of the minority party and expanded the number of Opposition Senators. With Capildeo's assent, Trinidad and Tobago became independent on August 31, 1962. Elections in Trinidad and Tobago gives information on election and election results in Trinidad and Tobago. ... Dr. Rudranath Capildeo Dr. Rudranath Capildeo (1920-1970) was a Trinidad and Tobago politician and mathematician. ... A senate is a deliberative body, often the upper house or chamber of a legislature. ... August 31 is the 243rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (244th in leap years), with 122 days remaining. ... 1962 (MCMLXII) was a common year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1962 calendar). ...


Independence era

Black Power

Between 1968 and 1970 the Black Power movement gained strength in Trinidad and Tobago. The leadership of the movement developed within the Guild of Undergraduates at the St. Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies. Led by Geddes Granger, the National Joint Action Committee joined up with trade unionists led by George Weekes of the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union and Basdeo Panday, then a young trade union lawyer and activist. The Black Power Revolution got started during the 1970 Carnival. In response to the challenge, Williams countered with a broadcast entitled I am for Black Power. He introduced a 5% levy to fund unemployment reduction and established the first locally-owned commercial bank. However, this intervention had little impact on the protests. Tommie Smith (gold medal) and John Carlos (bronze medal) famously performed the Black Power salute on the 200 m winners podium at the 1968 Olympics. ... 1968 (MCMLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Monday. ... 1970 (MCMLXX) was a common year starting on Thursday. ... St. ... The University of the West Indies, also known as UWI, is an autonomous regional institution supported by and serving 16 countries and territories in the Caribbean - Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. ... Geddes Granger, also known as Makandal Daaga is a Trinidad and Tobago political activist and former revolutionary. ... The National Joint Action Committee is a defunct or inactive Afrocentrist political party in Trinidad and Tobago. ... A trade union or labor union is a continuous association of wage-earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment. ... The Oilfields Workers Trade Union or OWTU is one of the most powerful trade unions in Trinidad and Tobago. ... Basdeo Panday Basdeo Panday (born May 25, 1933) was Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago from 1995 to 2001 and has served as Leader of the Opposition from 1976-1977, 1978-1986, 1989-1995 and 2001-present. ... English barrister 16th century painting of a civil law notary, by Flemish painter Quentin Massys. ... The Black Power Revolution also known as the 1970 Revolution was an attempt by a number of revolutionary elements, led by Black Power activists, Trade Unionists and Marxists to overthrow the government of Trinidad and Tobago in 1970. ... 1970 (MCMLXX) was a common year starting on Thursday. ... Carnival or Carnivale is an annual Christian festival season. ...


On April 6, 1970 a protester was killed by the police. This was followed on April 13 by the resignation of A.N.R. Robinson, Member of Parliament for Tobago East. On April 18 sugar workers went on strike, and there was talk of a general strike. In response to this, Williams proclaimed a State of Emergency on April 21 and arrested 15 Black Power leaders. In response to this, a portion of the Trinidad Defense Force, led by Raffique Shah and Rex Lassalle mutinied and took hostages at the army barracks at Teteron. Through the action of the Coast Guard the mutiny was contained and the mutineers surrendered on April 25. April 6 is the 96th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (97th in leap years). ... April 13 is the 103rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (104th in leap years). ... Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson (born 16 December 1926 in Calder Hall, Tobago) was President of Trinidad and Tobago from 19 March 1997 to 17 March 2003. ... A Member of Parliament, or MP, is a representative elected by the voters to a parliament. ... Castara village beach looking south, Tobago Tobago is the smaller of the two main islands that make up the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. ... April 18 is the 108th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (109th in leap years). ... A state of emergency is a governmental declaration that may suspend certain normal functions of government, may work to alert citizens to alter their normal behaviors, or may order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans. ... April 21 is the 111th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (112th in leap years). ... Raffique Shah is a Trinidad and Tobago trade union leader and political commentator. ... Reginald Andrew Lassalle, better known as Rex Lassalle (born 1945) is a former lieutenant in the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment who, together with Raffique Shah led a mutiny by the Regiment on April 21, 1970 (see Black Power Revolution). ... A coast guard is a national organization responsible for various services at sea. ... April 25 is the 115th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (116th in leap years). ...


Williams made three additional speeches in which he sought to identify himself with the aims of the Black Power movement. He re-shuffled his Cabinet and removed three Ministers (including two white members) and three senators. He also introduced the Public Order Act which reduced civil liberties in an effort to control protest marches. After public opposition, led by A.N.R. Robinson and his newly created Action Committee of Democratic Citizens (which later became the Democratic Action Congress), the Bill was withdrawn. Attorney General Karl Hudson-Phillips offered to resign over the failure of the Bill, but Williams refused his resignation. This article is about the color. ... The Democratic Action Congress (DAC) was a political party in Trinidad and Tobago founded by A.N.R. Robinson from the Action Commission of Democratic Citizens (ACDC) in 1971. ... In most common law jurisdictions, the Attorney General is the main legal adviser to the government, and in some jurisdictions may in addition have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions. ... Karl Terrence Hudson-Phillips, Q.C. (b. ...

See Black Power Revolution

The Black Power Revolution also known as the 1970 Revolution was an attempt by a number of revolutionary elements, led by Black Power activists, Trade Unionists and Marxists to overthrow the government of Trinidad and Tobago in 1970. ...

Legacy

Academic contributions

A descendant of a family which made its fortune illegally trading slaves after 1807 (the de Boissiere family), Williams specialised in the study of the abolition of the slave trade, and some have argued that his work was ground-breaking for the direction which it took. Year 1807 (MDCCCVII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar). ... This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ...


In 1944 his book Capitalism and Slavery argued that the British abolition of their Atlantic slave trade in 1807 was motivated primarily by economics; by extension, so was the emancipation of the slaves and the fight against the trading in slaves by other nations. 1944 (MCMXLIV) was a leap year starting on Saturday. ... This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Year 1807 (MDCCCVII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar). ...


Before Williams the historiography of this issue had been dominated by (mainly) British writers who generally were prone to depict Britain's actions as unimpeachable.


The Eric Williams Memorial Collection

The Eric Williams Memorial Collection (EWMC) at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago was inaugurated in 1998 by former US Secretary of State Gen. Colin L. Powell. In 1999, it was named to UNESCO’s prestigious Memory of the World Register. Gen. Powell heralded Dr. Williams as a tireless warrior in the battle against colonialism, and for his many other achievements as a scholar, politician and international statesman. The Eric Williams Memorial Collection (EWMC) located at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago was inaugurated in 1998 by former US Secretary of State Colin Powell. ... The Eric Williams Memorial Collection (EWMC) located at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago was inaugurated in 1998 by former US Secretary of State Colin Powell. ... The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. ... Map showing the distribution of documentary heritages by State Parties as of 2005. ...


The Collection consists of the late Dr. Williams' Library and Archives. Available for consultation by researchers, the Collection amply reflects its owner’s eclectic interests, comprising some 7,000 volumes, as well as correspondence, speeches, manuscripts, historical writings, research notes, conference documents and a miscellany of reports. The Museum contains a wealth of emotive memorabilia of the period and copies of the seven translations of Williams’ seminal work, Capitalism and Slavery, (into Russian, Chinese and Japanese [1968, 2004] among them, and a Korean translation was released in 2006). Photographs depicting various aspects of his life and contribution to the development of Trinidad and Tobago complete this extraordinarily rich archive, as does a three-dimensional re-creation of Dr. Williams’ study.


Dr. Colin Palmer, Dodge Professor of History at Princeton University, has said: “as a model for similar archival collections in the Caribbean…I remain very impressed by its breadth...[It] is a national treasure.” Palmer’s new biography of Williams up to 1970 entitled Eric Williams and the Making of the Modern Caribbean, published by the University of North Carolina Press, is dedicated to the Collection. Princeton University is a coeducational private university located in Princeton, New Jersey, in the United States of America. ... The University of North Carolina Press (or UNC Press), founded in 1922, is a university press that is part of the University of North Carolina. ...


Criticism

Many scholars claim that Williams' argument are undermined by the facts of the matter. The decline in the West Indian economies began to manifest itself after slave trading was banned in 1807; prior to this, slavery was flourishing. The economic decline in the West Indies was consequently more likely to have been a direct result of the suppression of the slave trade. Williams' evidence showing falling commodity prices as a rationale can largely be discounted; the falls in price led to an increase in demand, raising overall profits for the importers. Profits for the slave traders remained at around ten percent on investment and displayed no evidence of declining. Land prices in the West Indies, an important tool for analysing the economy of the area did not begin to decrease until after the slave trade was discontinued. Year 1807 (MDCCCVII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar). ...


The sugar colonies were not in decline at all, in fact they were at their economic peak in 1807. It should be noted that Williams was heavily involved in the movements for independence of the Caribbean colonies and had a fairly obvious motive to impugn the colonial power. Indeed, Williams' reputation among black West Indian scholars continues to be high, even as white North American and European scholars criticize his historiography. Year 1807 (MDCCCVII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar). ...


A third generation of scholars led by Seymour Drescher and Roger Anstey have discounted many of Williams' arguments. They do however acknowledge that morality had to be combined with the forces of politics and economic theory to bring about the end of the slave trade. Seymour Drescher is an American historian and a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, known for his studies on Alexis de Tocqueville and Slavery. ...


On the other hand, Williams' central point that the rise of industrial capitalism in Britain was fueled by West Indian slavery, and that, in turn the new industrial bourgeoisie saw the maintenance of slavery as a drag on their profits, both still have some merit. In particular, we should note that significant decline in the British West Indies dates to after the abolition of the Corn Laws by the British in 1846 (one of the imperial preferences abolished was that in sugar). The Corn Laws, in force between 1815 and 1846, were import tariffs ostensibly designed to protect British farmers and landowners against competition from cheap foreign grain imports. ...


Indeed, Williams' impact on the field of study has proved of lasting significance. As Barbara Solow and Stanley Engerman put it in the preface to a compilation of essays on Williams, which is based off of a commemorative symposium held in Italy in 1984, Williams "defined the study of Caribbean history, and its writing affected the course of Caribbean history... Scholars may disagree on his ideas, but they remain the starting point of discussion... Any conference on British capitalism and Caribbean slavery is a conference on Eric Williams." Stanley Engerman is an economist and economic historian at the University of Rochester. ...


In addition to Capitalism and Slavery, Williams produced a number of other scholarly works focused on the Caribbean. Of particular significance are two published in the 1960s long after he had abandoned his academic career for public life: British Historians and the West Indies and From Columbus to Castro. The former, based on research done in the 1940s and initially presented at a symposium at Atlanta University, sought to debunk British historiography on the region and to condemn as racist the nineteenth and early twentieth century British perspective on the West Indies. Williams was particularly scathing in his description of the nineteenth century British intellectual Thomas Carlyle. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Clark Atlanta University is a private, undergraduate and graduate institution educational institution in Atlanta, Georgia. ... The most familiar view of Carlyle is as the bearded sage with a penetrating gaze. ...


The latter work is a general history of the Caribbean from the 15th through the mid-20th centuries. Curiously, it appeared at the same time as a similarly titled book (De Cristóbal Colón a Fidel Castro) by another Caribbean scholar-statesman, Juan Bosch of the Dominican Republic. Juan Bosch y Gaviño Juan Emilio Bosch y Gaviño (30 June 1909, La Vega – 1 November 2001, Santo Domingo) was the first democratically elected president of the Dominican Republic after the assassination of dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo in 1961. ...


References

  • Eric Williams. 1944. Capitalism and Slavery
  • Eric Williams. 1964. History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago. Port of Spain ISBN 1-881316-65-3
  • Eric Williams. 1964. British Historians and the West Indies, Port of Spain.
  • Solow, Barbara + Engerman, Stanley (eds). 1987. British Capitalism & Caribbean Slavery: the Legacy of Eric Williams.
  • Cudjoe, Selwyn. 1993. Eric E. Williams Speaks: Essays on Colonialism and Independence ISBN 0-87023-887-6
  • Drescher, Seymour. 1977. Econocide: British Slavery in the Era of Abolition
  • Meighoo, Kirk. 2003. Politics in a Half Made Society: Trinidad and Tobago, 1925-2002 ISBN 1-55876-306-6
Preceded by
Albert Gomes
Chief Minister of Trinidad and Tobago
19561959
Succeeded by
none
Preceded by
none
Premier of Trinidad and Tobago
19591961
Succeeded by
none
Preceded by
none
Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago
19611981
Succeeded by
George Chambers

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