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Eric Williams and the Making of the Modern Caribbean

Colin A. Palmer

Publication Year: 2006

Born in Trinidad, Eric Williams (1911@-81) founded the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago's first modern political party in 1956, led the country to independence from the British culminating in 1962, and became the nation's first prime minister. Before entering politics, he was a professor at Howard University and wrote several books, including the classic ###Capitalism and Slavery#. In the first scholarly biography of Williams, Colin Palmer provides insights into Williams's personality that illuminate his life as a scholar and politician and his tremendous influence on the historiography and politics of the Caribbean. Palmer focuses primarily on the fourteen-year period of struggles for independence in the Anglophone Caribbean. From 1956, when Williams became the chief minister of Trinidad and Tobago, to 1970, when the Black Power@-inspired February Revolution brought his administration face to face with a younger generation intellectually indebted to his revolutionary thought, Williams was at the center of most of the conflicts and challenges that defined the region. He was most aggressive in advocating the creation of a West Indies federation to help the region assert itself in international political and economic arenas. Looking at the ideas of Williams as well as those of his Caribbean and African peers, Palmer demonstrates how the development of the modern Caribbean was inextricably intertwined with the evolution of a regional anticolonial consciousness. Eric Williams founded the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago's first modern political party in 1956, became the nation's first prime minister, and led the country's struggle for independence from the British in 1962. Before entering politics, he was a professor at Howard University and wrote several books, including the groundbreaking Capitalism & Slavery. This book is the first biography of Williams, exploring his life as a scholar and politician and his tremendous influence on the historiography and politics of the Caribbean. Palmer focuses especially on a 14-year period of independence struggles in the Anglophone Caribbean, when Williams helped resolve disputes and promoted the creation of a pan-Caribbean federation. Looking at the ideas of Williams as well as his Caribbean and African peers, Palmer demonstrates the intertwining of the development of the modern Caribbean with the development of a regional anticolonial consciousness. Strip & rebind: 400 Cloth Sales: 1020 Cloth Inventory: 584 Recommendation for Cloth edition: OP/OS In this first scholarly assessment of Williams (1911-1981), founder of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago's first modern political party and the nation's first prime minister, Palmer explores his life as a scholar and politician and his tremendous influence on the historiography and politics of the Caribbean. Palmer focuses especially on a 14-year period of independence struggles in the Anglophone Caribbean, when Williams helped resolve regional disputes and promoted the creation of a pan-Caribbean federation. Born in Trinidad, Eric Williams (1911–81) founded the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago's first modern political party in 1956, led the country to independence from the British culminating in 1962, and became the nation's first prime minister. Before entering politics, he was a professor at Howard University and wrote several books, including the classic ###Capitalism and Slavery#. In the first scholarly biography of Williams, Colin Palmer provides insights into Williams's personality that illuminate his life as a scholar and politician and his tremendous influence on the historiography and politics of the Caribbean. Palmer focuses primarily on the fourteen-year period of struggles for independence in the Anglophone Caribbean. From 1956, when Williams became the chief minister of Trinidad and Tobago, to 1970, when the Black Power–inspired February Revolution brought his administration face to face with a younger generation intellectually indebted to his revolutionary thought, Williams was at the center of most of the conflicts and challenges that defined the region. He was most aggressive in advocating the creation of a West Indies federation to help the region assert itself in international political and economic arenas. Looking at the ideas of Williams as well as those of his Caribbean and African peers, Palmer demonstrates how the development of the modern Caribbean was inextricably intertwined with the evolution of a regional anticolonial consciousness.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents, Illustrations

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pp. vii-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

My scholarly interest in Eric Williams began in 1994, when the University of North Carolina Press invited me to write a new introduction to Capitalism and Slavery on the occasion of its republication. In subsequent years I conducted research in the Public Record Office in London, the Eric Williams Memorial Collection (EWMC) in St. Augustine, Trinidad, ...

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Introduction

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pp. 5-14

"The circumstances of my birth were quite unremarkable," Eric Eustace Williams wrote in the unpublished version of his memoir. "They," asserted Williams, "in no way differed from those of other West Indian children of the lower middle class." The year was 1911, the month was September. ...

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Chapter 1. Intellectual Decolonization

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pp. 15-39

"The history of our West Indian islands can be expressed in two simple words: Columbus and Sugar," Eric Williams proclaimed in a lecture he delivered at the Trinidad Public Library on April 19,1944. As he awaited the publication of Capitalism and Slavery later that year, the young historian was preparing the ground for the reception of its bitter assault on colonialism. ...

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Chapter 2. The Challenge of Political and Economic Integration

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pp. 40-75

Norman Manley, the premier of Jamaica, delivered a major broadcast to the people of Trinidad and Tobago on June 17,1960. The newly inaugurated West Indies Federation was experiencing difficult times, and Manley was assuring his audience and the rest of the region that the federation would prevail and that it was in the best interest of the islands to remain united. ...

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Chapter 3. The Struggle for Chaguaramas

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pp. 76-137

Nothing could temper the enthusiasm and determination of the crowd, not even the torrential showers that drenched it on that warm April morning in 1960. Some sixty thousand strong, it was the largest march that Trinidad and Tobago had ever seen. The banners held high by some told the entire story: "Dignity Is Incompatible with Colonialism," read one. ...

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Chapter 4. Eric Williams and the Golden Handshake

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pp. 138-178

The letter was not entirely unexpected. Still, its arrival on Harold MacMillan's desk on that November day in 1962 created a high degree of annoyance. "Dear Prime Minister" the letter opened coldly, a pointed departure from the more fraternal salutation, "My dear Prime Minister," that had graced earlier communications. ...

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Chapter 5. Courting Grenada

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pp. 179-197

"One from ten leaves nought," declared the premier of Trinidad and Tobago when the Jamaican electorate voted to secede from the West Indies Federation on September 19, 1961.1 Eric Williams's command of arithmetic, at least in this instance, was questionable, but the political implications of his comment were unmistakable. ...

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Chapter 6. Bleeding Guiana

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pp. 198-234

Situated on the northeastern coast of South America, British Guiana was the largest of the Anglophone Caribbean colonies. Its area of 83,000 square miles made it slightly smaller than the British Isles. In 1965 its population numbered only 605,000 and was concentrated in Georgetown, the capital city, and on the coastal belt. ...

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Chapter 7. Eric Williams, Africa, and Africans

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pp. 235-254

Fresh from a six-week tour of eleven African states, Prime Minister Eric Williams addressed one of his favorite audiences on April 22, 1964. It consisted mainly of West Indian students at McGill and Sir George Williams Universities in Montreal who had gathered to hear the former professor discuss his tour, ...

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Chapter 8. The Economics and Politics of Race

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pp. 255-303

Eric Williams always boasted about Trinidad and Tobago's ethnic diversity. To him, the two islands comprised the most distinctive Caribbean peoples. Writing in 1964, he characterized the new nation as "the most cosmopolitan of all the West Indian territories—its African stock having been supplemented in the last century ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 304-308

Brilliant, brash, confident, buoyant and energetic, Eric Eustace Williams burst into the political arena of Trinidad and Tobago in 1956. He was fresh and idealistic when many other contestants, such as Tubal Uriah Butler and Albert Gomes, had seen better years and were visibly tired. ...

Notes

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pp. 309-334

Bibliography

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pp. 335-338

Index

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pp. 339-354


E-ISBN-13: 9781469605692
E-ISBN-10: 1469605694
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807829875
Print-ISBN-10: 0807829870

Page Count: 368
Illustrations: 6 illus., 2 tables, 1 map
Publication Year: 2006