Edna Manley, wife of Jamaica's Chief Minister, has an international
reputation as a sculptor. She has also done outstanding pioneer work 2n
founding a vital and vigorous art movement in Jamaica. Painters, dancers.
poets and actors all bear witness to the stimulating and vitalising influence
she has exercised.
Edna Manley usually carves in mahogany, and pieces like "Horse of the
Morning" and "Dying God" have justly been acclaimed as magnificent
examples of modern sculpture. The editors of "Caribbean Quarterly" are
happy to be able to reproduce on the cover of this magazine the carving
"Moon", one of the most sensitive and moving examples of Edna Manley's
Reprinted from a copy in the collections of the
University of Florida Librairies
Reprinted by permission of
UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES, Kingston, Jamaica
A Division of
KRAUS-THOMSON ORGANIZATION LIMITED
Printed in Germany
VOL. 5. No. 1.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE IDEA OF FEDERATION OF THE
BRITISH CARIBBEAN TERRITORIES
Jesse H. Proctor, Jr. 5
M. G. Smith 34
TREES His TESTAMENT
Philip Sherlock 48
BRITISH HONDURAS AND ANGLO-AMERICAN RELATIONS
David Waddell 50
LETTER TO THE EDITOR 60
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A SELECTION OF CONTENTS FROM PAST ISSUES
Vol. III, No. 1
Language and Folklore
My Life ...
Creole-A Folk Language
A Rada Community in Trinidad
Vol. III, No. 2
Recent Developments in Race Relations in the United States...
The Mud Volcanoes
Sir Charles Metcalfe ...
The Rise of the Village Settlements of British Guiana
A Note on Economic Policy in Tortola ...
Vol. III, No. 3
Citizenship in an Emergent Nation
The Archives of Jamaica
Research and the Lay Scholar
The Apprenticeship Period in Jamaica 1834-1838
West Indian Reptiles
On Being a West Indian
VoL III, No. 4
Trinidad Town House
French and Creole Patois in Haiti
The Choice and Use of Words ...
Form and Style in a Bahamian Folktale
Coco and Mona
Vol. IV, No. I
Africa in West Indian Poetry
The New Movement in Haiti
Island Carib Folk Tales
The Language Problem in the British Caribbean
Labor Relations in an Undeveloped Economy
Jamaica Prepares for Invasion, 1779
The First Chapter in Caribbean History ...
Frederick Douglass: Letters from the Haitian Legation
Vol. IV, No. 2
The Teaching of History in the Americas
Festivals of the Calendar in St. Lucia
Launching a Schooner in Carriacou
The Shadow and the Substance
Tobago Villagers in the Mirror of Dialect
Quater-Centenary of Richard Eden's Decades of the Newe
World or West India, Etc.'
Frederick G. Cassidy
Andrew T. Carr
George E. Simpson and
J. Milton Yinger
K. W. Barr
D. G. Hall
R. K. Gardiner
Clinton V. Black
M. W. Barley
D. G. Hall
H. W. Springer
Sir Thomas Taylor
Daniel J. Crowley
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Carnival in New Orleans
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ANDREW PEARSE AND ANDREW CARR
THE first word is of gratitude, farewell and welcome. Andrew Pearse, one of the
founders of Caribbean Quarterly is now on a UNESCO assignment in Brazil.
His enthusiasm and scholarship helped to bring the Quarterly into existence,
and it was he more than any other who kept it alive through its struggling
infancy. We record with deep gratitude our appreciation of his work. He was
one of those who helped West Indians to understand the West Indies.
Fortunately one of Andrew Pearse's close friends, Andrew Carr, has joined
us as co-editor. An active member of the Trinidad Field Naturalists' Society,
the Trinidad Zoological Society, and the Trinidad and Tobago Ethnographical
Society and a contributor to earlier issues of the Quarterly, he now shares the
responsibility for all editorial omissions and exceptions.
On the 23rd of February, 1956, representatives from the islands of the
British West Indies, assembled in London, declared "it is the unanimous
agreement of those of us who had the honour to represent the British Caribbean
Colonies on this historic occasion that our countries should be bound together
in Federation So association became unity, and the people of the new
federation now face the challenge of political independence. At this, the most
decisive period in our history, we are glad to be able to publish Dr. Proctor's
study of the growth of the idea of West Indian Federation.
The article Dark Puritan is the first of a series of six on the life of a
West Indian revivalist preacher, by Dr. Michael G. Smith of the Institute of
Social and Economic Research of the University College. It is an interesting
tact that the Institute's journal Social and Economic Studies of December last
contains a full and illuminating account of Jamaican revivalist cults by Dr.
George Simpson, Head of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at
The publication of both of these studies is welcome evidence of the basic
research now being carried out in cultural anthropology and sociology in the
We would like to direct the attention of our readers to Dr. Raymond Smith's
excellent study of The Negro Family in British Guiana (published recently by
Kegan Paul) and to Mr. G. W Roberts' remarkable study of The Population
of Jamaica published for the Conservation Foundation by the Cambridge
University Press. Mr. Roberts' was the result of a study financed by the
Conservation Foundation of New York. We congratulate our sister department,
the Institute of Social and Economic Research, on the pioneer work that it has
done in this field.
The Development of the Idea of Federation
of the British Caribbean Territories
JESSE H. PROCTOR, JR.
ON March 14, 1945, Col. Oliver Stanley, the United Kingdom's Secretary of
State for the Colonies, addressed a dispatch to the governors of all the British
dependencies in the Caribbean area directing them to place the issue of the
federation of those territories before the various colonial legislatures for debate,
and announcing that if these bodies indicated that they favoured such a
measure, the formulation of concrete proposals would be considered. Since then
a federal constitution has been drafted by a group of West Indian representa-
tives working under the chairmanship of Britain's Sir Hubert Rance,
approved in principle by the legislatures of Grenada, Domlnica, St. Lucia,
St. Vincent, Antigua, St. Christopher-Nevis, Montserrat, Trinidad and Tobago,
Jamaica and Barbados, revised in response to West Indian objections to
specific provisions, and re-submitted to the colonies for their final action. These
developments, which have brought the British West Indies to the threshold
of federation, have been rather fully described and commented on in both
official publications and secondary sources.
The story of federation in this area does not begin with the Stanley
dispatch of 1945, however; the contemporary effort actually constitutes only
the latest phase in a movement which originated in the seventeenth century.
Relatively little attention has been given to the antecedents of the Stanley
dispatch, and there has not hitherto been published a systematic, compre-
hensive examination of the preceding development of the federal idea as
applied to the British Caribbean territories. Such an examination-which
undertakes to trace the earlier proposals and attempts to unite some or all
of these colonies, the growth of the demand for federation in the Caribbean,
and the evolution of British policy on the matter-is needed if the present
phase is to be viewed in proper historical perspective.
The story actually opens at the beginning of the English colonization of
the islands. On September 13, 1625, Charles I appointed Thomas Warner,
who had in 1623 planted the first permanent English settlement in the Antilles
on St. Christopher (commonly known as St. Kitts), as the royal lieutenant
in St. Kitts, Nevis, Barbados, and Montserrat, and authorized him "to
govern them as is fitting." Two years later, on July 2, 1627, the same king
made the first Earl of Carlisle Lord Proprietor of all the "Caribbees Islands"
between ten and twenty degrees north latitude (including St. Kitts, Nevis,
Antigua, Montserrat, Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Barbados and
Dominica), granting him authority to make laws, erect courts, and enforce
obedience throughout this province. Warner was thereafter named governor
and lieutenant-general of all the islands included in the Carlisle patent, but
his authority was not accepted in Barbados.'
In February 1647, the second Earl of Carlisle leased the proprietorship
for twenty-one years to Francis, Lord Willoughby of Parham, and com-
missioned him Governor-in-Chief of the Caribbee Islands for the period of
the lease. He set up his headquarters in Barbados, but was unable to induce
the Leeward Islands (St. Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, and Montserrat) to
acknowledge his authority fully. The patent was annulled by the Parliamentary
Forces during the Civil War, but in 1660 Willoughby's proprietory rights were
restored, and in 1663 he was formally named Governor of the Caribbees on
behalf of the king. He was still unable to make his authority effective in the
Leeward Islands, however; and following the growth of a movement among
them for a separate government, the Leewards (which now include the British
Virgin Islands) were in 1761 withdrawn from his jurisdiction and given a
governor-in-chief of their own.2
The first Governor-General of the Leewards, Sir Charles Wheler, requested
authorization from London to summon a General Assembly elected from all
four colonies, but no reply was received. His successor, Sir William Stapleton,
began in 1674 on his own initiative to call together representatives from the
various island executive councils and legislative assemblies for joint consulta-
tion. He soon developed a plan for converting this from a mere advisory
body into a federal legislative assembly composed of members elected to it
by each island. Following the approval of this scheme by the London
authorities, he convened the first such session at Nevis in November 1682.
In 1705 this legislature passed a federal constitutional act. Meetings were held
intermittently until 1711, when it dissolved itself, and then again in 1798; but
further Government attempts in 1800, 1834 and 1837 to revive it were blocked
by the local planters.3
Meanwhile, an effort was made to apply the federal pattern, as it had
developed in the Leewards, to those islands which were ceded to Britain at
the close of the Seven Years War-Grenada, St. Vincent, Dominica and
Tobago. In 1764 these territories were joined together as the Government
of Grenada or the Southern Caribbee Islands, and placed under a single
governor who was authorized to summon assemblies of the islands "jointly
and severally." Robert Melville, the first governor, created a General
(Executive) Council for these four islands and was anxious to establish a
federal legislature; but such a scheme could not be advanced beyond the
Even the limited union which was achieved proved to be short-lived.
The General Council was abolished in 1767, and Dominica and St. Vincent
were withdrawn from the group in 1771 and 1776 respectively.
Moreover, during the American War for Independence they were each
captured by the French, and when all but Tobago were restored to Britain
in 1783, a separate governor was assigned for each island."
The executive unity of the Leeward Islands was also broken in 1816 with
the establishment of two separate governorships-one for Antigua, Montserrat,
and Barbuda, and the other for St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, and the Virgins."
It was not until 1833 that any further effort was made to establish some
measure of political association among the Lesser Antilles. In that year, a
single governor, resident in Barbados, was given authority over the Wind-
ward Islands (Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent, Tobago, and, after 1838,
St. Lucia), and another governor was placed over the Leeward Islands, to
which Dominica was now added. In each group the sole link was the governor,
until 1859 when a joint appeal court for the Windwards was established.'
Meanwhile, the two colonies of Demerara-Essequibo and Berbice, which
has been ceded by the Dutch to Britain in 1814, were in 1831 fused into the
colony of British Guiana; and British Honduras, which had been nominally
under the jurisdiction of Jamaica since the earliest settlement in the seventeenth
century, was in 1862 declared a colony and given a lieutenant-governor sub-
ordinate to the Governor of Jamaica. This connection was maintained until
The repeated urging from 1866 in favour of federation by Sir Benjamin
Pine, Acting Governor of the Leeward Islands, and the successful federation
of the British colonies in North America in 1867 encouraged the belief in the
Colonial Office that an effort should be made to move beyond the existing
joint governorships. The immediate combination of all the Leewards and
Windwards (including Barbados) into one government-and possibly the
federation of all the British West Indian territories-was seriously considered
for a time, but was rejected in favour of a plan whereby the Leewards and
Windwards would first be united into two separate federal groups, and then
later joined into a single union.'
As the first step toward this general federation, the Colonial Secretary
directed Pine in the spring of 1869 to form the territories under his jurisdiction
into one colony with a single legislative council, superior court, treasury and
audit department, and police corps. Some opposition to this project was
encountered in the Caribbean, particularly in St. Kitts and Nevis, and it was
only after eighteen months of negotiation and after that portion of the scheme
calling for a common treasury had been dropped that the consent of the island
legislatures could be secured."
Thereupon Parliament passed in 1871 an act creating the Leeward Islands
Colony, composed of the presidencies of Antigua, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat,
the Virgin Islands, and Dominica. In 1882, St. Kitts and Nevis were fused
into a single presidency. The new General Legislative Council-to be composed
of ten members elected by and from the unofficial in the island legislatures,
and ten nominated members-was granted authority over several specified
matters of common concern as well as any others which might be declared to
be under federal jurisdiction by the island legislatures. Legislative power not
expressly delegated was reserved to the constituent units. Federal expenses
would be met by annual contributions levied on each presidency rather than
by federal taxation, and each presidency remained autonomous so far as its
own finances were concerned. An indication of the persistence of the idea of
a broader federation was the insertion of a provision in the Leeward Islands
Act for the admission of other West Indian islands into the union by the
issuance of an order-in-council upon joint addresses from the legislative bodies
of such territories and the Leeward Council."
Meanwhile, Rawson W. Rawson had been sent out as the new Governor
of the Windwards in 1869 with instructions to work toward the federation of
those islands. His inquiries soon convinced him, however, that this was neither
desirable nor possible, and he accordingly recommended against it.'1
Despite this view, the Colonial Office was determined to proceed, and
in 1875 sent out John Pope-Hennessy as Governor with a mandate to bring
it about. Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Tobago, and the Barbadian peasantry
reacted favourably to the proposal, but Pope-Hennessy's efforts on its behalf
were vigorously resisted in Barbados by the House of Assembly and by the
middle and upper classes generally. Feeling ran so high in that island that
violent disturbances broke out in 1876 in the course of which several persons
were killed and much property was destroyed. The House of Assembly on
July 8, 1876, petitioned the Queen to withdraw the governor, and the unofficial
members of the Legislative Council resigned en masse, whereupon Pope-
Hennessy was transferred to Hong-Kong and the proposals were dropped.13
The Barbadians pressed thereafter for the termination of the joint
governorship which still linked them with the Windwards; and the Royal
Commission which was appointed in 1882 to investigate the financial situation
of several islands recommended in 1884 the complete separation of Barbados
from the Windwards and the amalgamation of the latter into one colony with
a single federal legislature, a unified public service, and a single supreme
court, as well as a common governor. That commission also urged joint con-
sultation and common action on the part of all the West Indian colonies in
order to achieve uniformity in certain matters; the formation of one general
civil service for Jamaica, British Honduras, Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia,
Tobago, and the Leeward Islands, which would be open also to British
Guiana, Trinidad, and Barbados if they should wish to enter; the conversion
of the existing "imperfect Federation" in the Leeward Islands into a single
colony with a legislature and executive council in which would be concentrated
all the powers still retained by the island councils; and the transfer
of Dominica from the Leewards to the Windwards."
H.M.G. indicated its willingness to implement those recommendations
regarding Barbados and the Windwards, but expressed a desire to ascertain
local opinion before proceeding.'"
Barbados proved extremely anxious indeed to be separated and quite
prepared to support its own governor; but, despite the urging of the British
officials, the Windward Islands were firmly opposed to any scheme for
federating themselves alone which involved the creation of a general legislature
and the elimination of their existing separate administrations and legislatures.
Accordingly, Britain proceeded in 1885 to sever the connection between
Barbados and the Windwards by giving the former a governor all its own, to
appoint a governor-in-chief for the Windward Islands (Grenada, St. Vincent,
St. Lucia and Tobago), and to drop the proposal for the federation of these
Tobago was removed from this group on January 1, 1889, and federated
with Trinidad. Ten years later their amalgamation was completed by making
Tobago a ward or local government district with a single representative in
the Trinidad and Tobago Legislative Council.
Meanwhile, support for some closer and more comprehensive torin of
political association of the West Indian colonies continued to find expression.
James A. Froude reported in 1887 that there was still some enthusiasm
in official quarters for the previously considered union of all the British terri-
tories in the area, although Sir Henry Norman, the Governor of Jamaica,
denied to him that responsible statesmen seriously contemplated it."
Such a project was urged during this period by B. Howell Jones, speaking
to the British Guiana Court of Policy on July 9, 1885;" by the British
Guianese writer Nicholas Darnell Davis, who warned Britain, however, not to
attempt to impose it on unwilling colonies;20 and by C. S. Salmon, a member
of the British Colonial Service who had served as President of Nevis. The
latter published a book containing a constitutional plan which provided for
a bicameral federal legislature, with a general assembly composed of 172
popularly elected members and a senate of forty-six members elected by and
from the unit legislatures; an executive council composed of the governor-
general, the commander of troops, the heads of the various departments, and
fifteen members elected by the legislature; and a federal tribunal.21
There was sufficient interest in such proposals to prompt a request in
the House of Commons on July 20, 1891, for a statement of the Government's
position on the issue. To this, Baron H. de Worms replied
"Her Majesty's Government have not had under their consideration,
and have no present intention of proposing, a confederation of all
the West Indian colonies.
They did not know, he added, what the general feeling of the West Indians
would be about it.
The matter was considered, however, by the two Royal Commissions
which were dispatched to the West Indies in the 1890's. In 1894, Sir Robert
Hamilton, who had been sent out to investigate the affairs of Dominica, recom-
mended the withdrawal of that territory from the Leeward Islands Colony,
and then went on to suggest that a federation embracing all the British West
Indies would be desirable. He felt that the time was not yet ripe for this step,
as "the islands are not yet sufficiently advanced," but suggested that as they
attained more self-government they would come to realize the advantages of
federation, and it would then develop "as the spontaneous growth of these
islands themselves." He recommended for the immediate future treating the
judicial and magisterial services of all the British West Indies as one service,
and taking steps toward creating an administrative union of all the territories
under a single governor-general who would handle all communications between
the islands and the Secretary of State, "deal with matters beyond the com-
petence of the individual administrators," and control the public services and
the distribution of troops.23
The Royal Commission appointed in 1897 to recommend remedies for the
prevailing economic distress of the area reported against establishing a
federation of all the West Indian colonies under a governor-general (although
some witnesses appearing before it strongly urged this measure) or even
creating a combined West Indian Civil Service. It did urge, however, that
the Windwards and Dominica should again be placed under the Government
of Barbados; and that consideration should be given to placing the Leewards
as well under the Barbados-Windwards Governor, but only after improved
communications had been provided "for some years."24
No attempt was made to give effect to the recommendations of either
commission, but various members of Parliament took up the cry for closer
political association. Sir George Baden-Powell, writing in the Fortnightly,
called for the creation of a West Indian Civil Service and a "quasi-permanent
West Indian Commission or Council" as moves in the direction of the
"amalgamation of the several governments.""25 Mr. T. Lough urged in the
House of Commons on August 2, 1898, that there should be a "single Govern-
ment for all the islands."2' Norman Lamont, in a speech at Rothesay on
December 22, 1902, called for the unification of the West Indian territories
into "one great colony with a Cromer or a Curzon at the head of it, advised
by a council of the best men we can send out";27 and precipitated a major
debate in the House of Commons on May 17, 1905, by attacking the Govern-
ment for its failure to follow up the recent commissions' reports and by
demanding that positive steps be taken toward federation of all the British
Caribbean dependencies. He was supported in this debate by Sir Charles Dilke,
Mr. Bryce, Mr. Lawrence, Mr. Wason, and Sir Edward Grey.28
In response to these speeches, the Secretary of State for the Colonies,
Mr. Lyttelton, affirmed that federation was an attractive proposal and might
be regarded as the ultimate objective of British policy. The obstacles were
such, however, that it would be premature to engage in such a constitutional
experiment at the moment. Federation must not be forced upon the colonies,
he emphasized, but should come naturally from within or from below as the
result of administrative activity which would encourage them to draw together.
The work of the Imperial Department of Tropical Agriculture, the making of
uniform quarantine and customs regulations, and the inter-island exchange
of expert officials were illustrations of the "gradual and patient operations"
which would, create a desire for union among the colonies and thus contribute
to its realization.29
An effort was made that same year to draw two islands more closely
together. The amalgamation of Grenada and St. Vincent under joint executive
and legislative councils was proposed by Britain, but was strongly opposed
in both territories and thereupon dropped."
There was substantial agreement with the policy enunciated by Lyttelton
among leading spokesmen for the West India interest such as Sir Nevile
Lubbock and Algernon Aspinall, Chairman and Secretary, respectively, of
the West India Committee, and Edward Davson, later to become President
of the Associated West Indian Chambers of Commerce.3
The advocates of federation were not satisfied, however. They urged
H.M.G. to proceed in a more positive and direct fashion to bring about closer
Norman Lamont pressed the case both in the halls of Parliament and in
the columns of the Contemporary Review. In the November 1907 issue of
that periodical he defined more precisely his ideas regarding the form which
federation of all the British West Indian islands should take.
The governor-general and federal executive officers should be appointed
by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and the central legislative council
should be composed of nominated members representing the various colonies.
The federal authority should control certain "collective interests"; "provincial
affairs" should be handled locally.32 Speaking in the House of Commons in
the summer of 1908, he claimed that pro-federation sentiment in the Carib-
bean had grown substantially since the 1905 debate, and suggested therefore
that a Royal Commission should be sent out to investigate the benefits of
federation, the desire of the West Indians for it, and how it might best be
effected. The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies replied that the Colonial
Office was giving attention to federation and would consider Lamont's proposal
after further study of local conditions.33
Writing again in the Contemporary Review of February 1912, he urged
the Government to convoke a conference in the West Indies to consider the
establishment of a federal government similar to that first created in
Australia-one in which local institutions would be safeguarded and the
greatest possible autonomy retained by the constituent units.
By forging such a slight initial link, a sufficient centripetal impulse
would be given, and "time and experience would do the rest."34 Later that
year he published a collection of his speeches and writings on West Indian
problems which concluded with an essay dated September 1912 in which he
held that a conference of delegates from all the British West Indies could
succeed in removing the obstacles to federation, and called for the formation
of a West Indian Federation League to focus public opinion on the issue and
organize the conference."
The most significant proposal set forth in this period, however, was that
of Gideon Murray, the Administrator of St. Vincent, who was later to become
Administrator of St. Lucia, Acting Governor of the Windward Islands,
Chairman of the West India Committee, member of the House of Commons,
and finally, as Viscount Elibank, an active member of the House of Lords.
In a talk to the West India Committee in November 1911, and in his book,
A United West Indies, published in 1912, he advocated the establishment of a
federation embracing British Guiana, Trinidad, Barbados, the Windwards,
and the Leewards, and open, upon the approval of the federal council, to
other colonies in the area desiring to enter. His plan called for the appointment
of a High Commissioner for the British West Indies who would be assisted by
a Secretary for West Indian Affairs and a Legal Adviser, and the establish-
ment of a Federal Council with legislative authority over such subjects as
trade, communications, defence, quarantine, currency, fisheries, and any
others requested by the units and approved by H.M.G. Its composition would
be such that every 50,000 inhabitants would have one member, provided that
no territory would have less than two. Of these one from each territory
(except B.G. and Trinidad, where two) would be nominated and the others
elected by the unofficial legislators from among their own number. He held
that announcement by the West Indians themselves of their desire for
federation and of the type they wanted would be necessary if it were
to materialize, and suggested that delegates from the Chambers of Commerce
of the various colonies should take the initiative by convening in conference
to discuss the proposals."
Murray also, according to his own report in the House of Lords thirty
years later, tried in various ways, but always without success, during the
period that he was in the West Indies to get those territories to come together.37
Meanwhile, a few more West Indians as well were calling for closer union.
One of these was W Galway Donovan of Grenada who agitated for federation
as editor of the Federalist and Grenada People from about 1905 until 1915.38
Another was D. S. deFreitas, a Grenada businessman who in 1910 submitted
to the Royal Commissioners on Trade Relations between Canada and the
West Indies a proposal for the establishment of a central authority comprised
of representatives from the legislatures of B.G. and the islands to deal with
common matters relating particularly to commerce. At the outset, this central
authority would function as a "deliberative convention" without either
executive or legislative powers; but it should, he argued, develop a spirit
and an attitude which would lead subsequently to the formation of a "real
union.""3 Still another was Louis S. Miekle, a Jamaican physician, whose book
Confederation of the British West Indies vs. Annexation to the United States
of America, published in 1912, advocated the federation of all the British
possessions in the Caribbean area under a "government by the people for the
people", but still linked to the U.K." N. D. Davis, who had first called for
federation in 1886, now published a new pamphlet suggesting that the problem
could be best approached by combining a few islands such as Trinidad and
Tobago and the Windwards under a governor-in-chief and a general legislative
council at the outset, and proceeding to link on others later. As steps toward
such a union he proposed summoning a genuinely representative conference
at Trinidad to consider what matters should be handled by the federal govern-
ment and how the revenue should be raised, and submitting the report of
this conference to the legislative councils for approval before the Imperial
Government acted to implement it."
It is of course impossible to define the extent to which these various
spokesmen expressed the general aspirations of the people of the West Indies
at this period. Meikle held that ninety-nine per cent. of the West Indians
would support the views expressed in his book; and a writer in the Trinidad
Guardian later reported that its publication "caused a furor" and set the
"young bloods clamouring with youthful enthusiasm for West Indian
nationhood.42 On the other hand, Stephen Bonsai wrote in 1912 that he had
discussed federation with many "men of weight" during his recent trip through
the area only to find that "among the islanders it excites hardly any interest,"
that it was "viewed by the majority of the intelligent men in the islands with
disapproval and with considerable uneasiness," and that "it was invariably
dismissed with a few and generally bitter words."43
Probably the West Indian correspondent of the London Times came
nearest the truth when he reported that federation was being discussed
throughout the area, but not often "as if within the sphere of practical
politics" and not in such a way as to constitute a "decided move on the part
of the West Indian colonies themselves towards federation."4'
At any rate, the Secretary of State for the Colonies was not convinced
that any of these proposals enjoyed sufficient support to justify any action
on his part. He was willing, he affirmed in 1912, to give careful attention to
any plan which seemed to meet with the general approval of the West Indians,
but he did not then have federation under consideration, and was not prepared
to circulate the Murray scheme among the colonial legislatures for debate."'
Support for federation became more widespread and articulate in the
Caribbean during and just after the first World War. The cry was taken up
by the emerging nationalist leaders such as T. A. Marryshow of Grenada,
who took over Donovan's newspaper in 1915, re-named it the West Indian,
and throughout the following fifteen years urged regularly through it that
the West Indies must be federated, Capt. A. A. Cipriani of Trinidad, W. M.
Grant and E. Duncan of St. Vincent, C. E. A. Rawle of Dominica, and
H. T. Wilson of Antigua. Under the leadership of these men and others like
them, West Indians banded together into Representative Government Asso-
ciations and Workingmen's Associations in the eastern islands. These
organizations staged public meetings and dispatched to London petitions
demanding more representative political institutions, a broader franchise, and
The movement found expression in B.G. at this stage in the journalistic
activity of A. R. F Webber, editor of the Georgetown Chronicle;" and in
Jamaica in the introduction in the legislature on August 4, 1921, of motions
requesting H.M.G. to obtain the views of the communities concerned regarding
federation of all the British territories in the Western Hemisphere, and regard-
ing federation of the British West Indies alone. These were defeated, however,
by votes of 13-4, with the officials voting in the negative."
There was also evidence of increasing support for closer union among
business circles. In the spring of 1918 the Barbados Chamber of Commerce
expressed its view that "the time has arrived when the question of
the Federation of the British West Indian Colonies should be seriously
considered and determined," and urged the convocation of an unofficial West
Indian conference to discuss the matter." Similar action was taken by the
Trinidad Chamber of Commerce in the fall of that year.0" Moreover, the
Jamaica Imperial Association submitted to the 1920 conference of the Asso-
ciated Chambers of Commerce in the West Indies a resolution calling for the
creation of a consultative body composed of representatives from each
Government and each Chamber of Commerce "to advise upon common
affairs." On the basis of the views expressed at this session, Sir Edward
Davson, President of the Association Chambers, drew up a plan, circulated
it throughout the British Caribbean for comment, incorporated several of the
suggestions received into an amended draft, and submitted it to the Secretary
of State for the Colonies. This scheme called for a Central Conference, con-
sisting of officials and unofficial which would meet at fixed intervals to
make recommendations on matters of common interest, and for a permanent
These various demands and proposals from the West Indies w'ire rein-
forced by representations made in the House of Commons by Gideon Murray
and Sir Samuel Hoare. The former in 1919 and again in 1921 directed the
Secretary of State's attention to "the movement on foot in the West Indies
to promote the federation of those colonies," and in June 1921 suggested that
someone like the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies should be sent
out to investigate the matter of constitutional advance as a whole, to try to
"co-ordinate the systems of government in these various West Indian
colonies," and to draft a plan for "a central advisory council" for submission
to the local legislative bodies.52 Sir Samuel Hoare maintained on June 7, 1921,
that it was time to deal with the matter of closer association without waiting
for further ripening of public opinion' in the area, and urged that a High
Commissioner be dispatched to the Caribbean to make "a comprehensive
enquiry" into the existing differences among the governments and "into the
many questions common to all the West Indies." He went no further in
defining the type of union he favoured beyond suggesting that there should be
a High Commissioner or a Governor-General of all the British territories in
In reply, the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, E. F. L. Wood,
suggested that Murray and Sir Samuel were "somewhat ahead of public
opinion in the West Indies themselves." He affirmed that it was necessary
to proceed in this matter with "prudence and circumspection, and that it
would be undesirable to take any official action toward the creation of an
Advisory Council or a Governor-Generalship in the absence of a demand for
such changes from the West Indies. There would be, he feared, "some risk,
from their point of view and from the point of view of constitutional develop-
ment in the West Indies", attaching to "anything which might appear to
resemble the putting of pressure from this end in the direction of a course
for which the local public opinion was not adequately ripe" The Colonial
Office was willing, he indicated, to encourage the joint discussion of common
problems and "various forms of co-operation in matters of common interest"
as it had been doing, in the belief that as time went on "some more organic
union may emerge" from such activity."
Wood promised to transmit the suggestion that he investigate the West
Indian situation to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Winston Churchill,
with his enthusiastic support; and, in response to this, it was decided to send
him to the Caribbean.55
At about this same time Churchill was reportedly also considering a
scheme for the reorganization of the entire Empire. This plan provided for
arranging the colonies into several regional groupings, each of which would
be governed by a High Commissioner and a council composed of both
nominated and elected members. One such group, it was reported, would be
the West Indies and British Guiana.5" It is possible that the Wood mission
stemmed in part from the consideration being given this plan, for it might
have been expected that his findings would cast light on its feasibility so far
as the Caribbean was concerned.
After a three-month inquiry which took him to each of the British pos-
sessions in the area except British Honduras and Montserrat, Wood returned
to report that "however much it would be to the evident advantage of these
colonies to secure machinery for greater unity and co-operation, there are
practical and political objections which, for the present at any rate, make this
impossible." He was convinced that public opinion in the area was such that
it would be both "inopportune and impracticable" to attempt a general
federation at this time. "The establishment of West Indian unity," he felt.
"is likely to be a plant of slow and tender growth," and a move by Britain
toward federation now would only prejudice the development of that local
demand for political unity which would be essential to its success. It must
be made clear, he emphasized, that an essential condition of approval of
federation by the Colonial Office would be a deliberate opinion in favour of
the change in the colonies themselves. He did recommend, however, that
serious consideration should be given to the early association of the Windward
Islands and Trinidad under a single governor (which had been suggested to
him by several persons in the islands); but stressed that its feasibility would
depend in large measure on whether it carried "the willing assent of the great
majority of the communities concerned," and especially on the attitude of
Discussing his visit in the House of Commons on July 4, 1922, Wood
reiterated the conclusions stated in his report, but now offered a suggestion
as to how the "centrifugal" public opinion could be overcome-by the grant
of more representative political institutions. In this way, he argued, the man
in the street could develop an appreciation of those arguments for federation
which were then only perceived by governments.5"
The members of Parliament seemed to be generally satisfied with Wood's
report, although Ormsby-Gore, who had accompanied him on the trip,
suggested that the moment for bringing about closer political association was
much nearer than Wood thought, and Gideon Murray expressed his disappoint-
ment that Wood did not see fit to recommend including the Leewards in the
proposed Trinidad-Windward union, and his hope that the opportunity would
be taken to do so. Lord Oliver, on the other hand, applauded Wood's con-
clusion that a wider federation was impossible, and hoped that "this
authoritative pronouncement will lay this superficial and futile prescription
to rest for a generation at least."5"
The Colonial Secretary proceeded quickly to explore the possibility of
implementing Wood's proposal regarding the association of Trinidad and the
Windwards. On June 21, 1922, he directed the governors of those colonies to
discuss the matter with each other and then bring it before their legislative
They sounded out unofficial legislators and other leading men in their
communities, and met for joint consultations in Trinidad on March 16, 1923.
They agreed that the Wood proposal was attractive in theory and that the
most appropriate form which such an association could take would be the
abolition of the Governorship of the Windwards, the placing of those islands
directly under the Governor of Trinidad, and the unification of the civil
services. This scheme could only be regarded, however, they felt, as the
ultimate goal to which policy should be directed, for present political and
financial conditions were such that it could not possibly be introduced for a
number of years. They believed, moreover, that it would be impossible to
secure legislative support for the plan and that no useful purpose would be
served therefore, by arranging for debate on it. Both governors felt that some
effort should be made to work up to this goal, but they favoured different
methods of approach and could agree on little in the way of immediate posi-
tive action beyond the increased use of ad hoc conferences and inter-colonial
The Colonial Office was apparently convinced by these replies that the
implementation of the Wood proposal should not be pressed. On July 25,
1923, the Under-Secretary announced:
it is perfectly clear that the tentative proposals made by my
Right Hon. Friend met with considerable local difficulties, and anything in
the direction of progress in that much desired direction must be a plant of
Meanwhile, further interest was being shown in the West Indies in Sir
Edward Davson's scheme. The Secretary of State had circulated it among the
colonial governments for comment with the suggestion that he would call a
conference to consider its implementation if public opinion were so inclined;
but not all the replies had proved favourable. Then, the Associated Chambers
of Commerce unanimously supported it at their 1922 session, and the Jamaica
Legislative Council on May 15, 1923, approved a resolution expressing its
willingness to consider sympathetically any proposals which the Colonial
Secretary could make along the lines of a Standing Conference. This resolution
was initiated by the elected members of the council reportedly in the belief
that the plan would pave the way to federation.3
The Colonial Office, frustrated in its effort to link Trinidad and the Wind-
wards, now turned again to this plan for a looser but wider form of association.
The Secretary of State on July 6, 1923, directed the governors of all the
British territories in the Caribbean area to invite the reaction of their legis-
latures to the Jamaica resolution. By the end of 1924 every colony except the
Bahamas, Barbados, and Grenada had replied favourably; whereupon the
Secretary announced that he would convene a preliminary conference of
representatives, to be selected by the legislatures, during the winter of 1925-26
to draft a constitution for a permanent conference, and submitted for legislative
consideration certain tentative proposals he intended to lay before that
session."6 These moves were welcomed by the London Times as providing the
opportunity for "a useful, if informal, experiment in federation" and as what
"could well be regarded as the first step towards West Indian federation."'5
As the date for the preliminary conference approached, Barbados
remained reluctant to participate. It was only in response to a renewed special
invitation from the Secretary of State and to the vigorous urging of its acting
Governor that the House of Assembly agreed by the narrow margin of 9-8
to send representatives."6
The constituent conference was held in London from May 13 to June 5,
1926, with delegates from all the British Caribbean colonies in attendance.
Unanimous agreement was reached on provisions for a Standing Conference
which followed closely the Secretary of State's tentative proposals. It was to
be "a purely advisory body, with no executive powers, .performing for
its constituents functions analogous to those which the Imperial Conference
performs for the Empire as a whole.""' It should proceed by way of recom-
mendations to both the Secretary of State and the Colonial Governments, on
whom would rest the responsibility of deciding how far they should be carried
As for representation, it was agreed that Barbados, British Guiana,
Jamaica and Trinidad should be allowed four members each and the Bahamas,
British Honduras, the Leewards and the Windwards three each; and that
these delegates should be as far as possible members of their respective legis-
latures or Governments but not bound entirely by instruction. Voting would
be by individuals rather than by colonies, although it was anticipated that
voting would be rare and that in important matters unanimity would be
Sessions would be convened alternately in London and the West Indies,
at thirty month intervals normally. A Standing Committee composed of one
representative from each government, would be set up to direct attention to
the implementation of conference recommendations, to frame future pro-
posals, and generally to maintain continuity between sessions.
A list of subjects falling within the scope of the conference-intended to
be illustrative rather than exhaustive-included agriculture, aviation, banking,
civil service, commerce, education, law, marketing, medicine, police, public
utility services, tourism, and trade representation.
The Colonial Office was delighted with the results of this meeting. The
Secretary of State described it as "a complete success" and predicted that
it might well "open a new chapter in the career of those old historic
colonies."' On June 25, 1926, he transmitted its report to the colonies for
their consideration with the comment that he was generally in complete accord
with it and would gladly lend all possible assistance to furthering the
By October 1927, all the colonies represented at London together with
Bermuda had agreed to join the Standing Conference (Barbados again being
the last to approve), and on January 24, 1929, twenty-five officials, unofficial
legislators, and businessmen from these territories assembled in Barbados for
the First West Indian Conference.
Agreement was there reached on the desirability of unified action on
customs procedure and duties, merchant shipping, Trade Commissioners in
the United Kingdom and Canada, a West Indian University, British film
quotas, currency, and agriculture; but the measures recommended were simply
further conferences, the drafting of model legislation, and the preparation
of reports for subsequent consideration.
There was no effort at this session to strengthen the Conference's authority
by advancing beyond the advisory functions originally assigned to it. Sir
Edward Davson, the chairman, reminded the delegates at the outset that they
could only make recommendations and that this was in no sense "any super-
structure which is going to be put over the free and autonomous Govern-
ments.""' Only two of those present-E. C. Eliot of the Leewards and
T. A. Marryshow of Grenada-explicitly connected it with the movement
The Secretary of State found the conference "most encouraging" to his
belief that "the destiny of the British West Indian colonies is gradually to
draw closer and closer to each other," however, and predicted that it was
"destined to take its place as a permanent and integral factor in the future of
British Guiana, British Honduras, the Bahamas, Bermuda, and the West
Indies."" As a matter of fact, no further sessions of the Standing West
Indian Conference were ever held. The 1931 meeting was postponed
indefinitely at the suggestion of the West Indian governors, since they had
nothing urgent to discuss and since the Ottawa Conference was to meet in
1932;2 and nothing further was heard of it.
During the period when the Standing Conference was getting underway,
the Colonial Office had displayed little outward interest in Federation itself.
When the Secretary of State was asked in the House of Commons on June 25,
1928, whether he would consider the desirability of one Governor-General and
one legislature for all the possessions in the Caribbean area, he mentioned the
many obstacles in the way and referred the questioner to the Wood Report.
Again on November 13, 1929, the Under-Secretary indicated in a reply to
Dr. Morgan that there was no intention to re-open the issue of Federation
for further discussion or to make any changes in that direction in the near
But in the Caribbean various federal schemes were being urged both by
West Indians and some British officials.
Shortly after his arrival as Governor of the Windward Islands in 1924,
Sir Fred S. James began-apparently on his own initiative-to advocate the
implementation of the previously rejected plan for placing the Windward
Islands under the Governor of Trinidad."
On January 12, 1926, labor leaders from Trinidad, Dutch Guiana, and
British Guiana gathered at Georgetown, B.G. for the First British Guiana and
West Indies Labour Conference. Federation occupied a prominent place in
their speeches, especially those of Capt. Cipriani of Trinidad, who urged that
the time was ripe to revive the idea "first brought about by the Hon. Gideon
Murray" and to strike out immediately for Federation. If they could but unite
behind the idea and make out a case to lay before the British Labour Party,
they would have, he maintained, "the best chance in the history of these
colonies for securing such a form of government" In response to this plea,
the Conference approved, with only one dissenting vote, a resolution calling for
the Federation of British Guiana and the British West Indies.
A Jamaican legislator called in 1928 for the creation of a Federation
League, with branches throughout the West Indies, to stimulate discussion on
political union and the convening of a conference of political leaders in Jamaica
to organize the drive."
The following year the unofficial members of the Executive and Legislative
Councils of Antigua dispatched a petition to the Secretary of State urging
that Trinidad, the Windwards, and the I.eewards be combined under one
governor with a common legislature. According to their plan, the local affairs
of each island should be left to a Commissioner and a local council which would
act in financial matters under the approval of the governor and the general
At the August 15, 1930, session of the Grenada Legislative Council
F. H. Copland, an elected member, urged the passage of a resolution suggest-
ing the amalgamation of the Windward Islands as a step toward a Windward-
Leeward Federation. The Administrator postponed discussion of this resolu-
tion, however. Five months later, T. A. Marryshow introduced a resolution
asking for the appointment of a Royal Commission to investigate the granting
of self-government to Grenada, whereupon the Colonial Secretary suggested
"improving" it by including the question of Federation. The motion, as
amended, called for a commission "to enquire into the possibility of Federation
in the West Indies and into such further developments in self-government as
may seem feasible to the commission," and such was approved."
The Legislative Council of Dominica discussed in December, 1930, a
resolution calling upon the Secretary of State to summon a conference at
Grenada to formulate a plan for the union of the Leewards and Windwards.
This was introduced by Lauchlan Rose and supported by him as well as
H. D. Shillingford and C. E. A. Rawle, all unofficial, on the ground that it
would, among other things, serve as a stepping-stone to the general Federation
of all the British Caribbean territories. The Administrator declined to permit a
vote on the resolution, but forwarded a copy of it to the Governor of the
Leewards."' A similar suggestion was made in the Trinidad Legislative Council
during this period.
Additional support for closer union came from the West Indian Sugar
Commission of 1930, which strongly recommended the "administrative
association" or "conjunction" of the Leeward and Windward Islands.8"
Demands were now made once again in the House of Commons.
Ormsby-Gore on February 19, 1931, urged abolishing the governorships of
the Leewards and Windwards, retaining only a skeleton administration in
those islands, and placing them under the authority of a single governor
located in Trinidad--'as dependencies of Trinidad" and without any "elaborate
legislative federation. The time had come, he affirmed, to face this question
anew, "as an immediate and practical issue.""2 He was supported by
Dr. Morgan, as well as Lord Elibank (formerly Gideon Murray), and Sir Fred
S. James and G. B. Haddon-Smith, both former governors of the Windward
The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies acknowledged that the
Colonial Office had been receiving representations, both official and unofficial,
Irom the West Indies asking that federation be considered, and revealed that
the proposal was under examination and that efforts were being made "to
ascertain local opinion in the West Indies more fully.""8
Shortly thereafter, the Secretary of State, Lord Passfield, announced his
decision to reopen the question of federation. He informed the Governors of
Trinidad, the Leewards, and the Windwards in March 1931, that he had come
to the conclusion that the time was ripe for a comprehensive inquiry to be made
into the possibility of bringing about some form of closer union among the
territories under their jurisdiction, and requested their reactions to such a step.85
During the following year, while the Caribbean governments were con-
sidering this proposal, spokesmen for the Colonial Office replied cautiously to
continuing suggestions from members of Parliament that the islands be united.
Some form of limited federation seemed desirable and possible, they stated, but
there were difficulties, and no decision or'action was possible until local opinion
could be determined possibly by an investigatory commission."
By March 15, 1932, the new Secretary of State, Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister,
was able to announce that the three governors had notified him of their general
agreement with the proposal;8 and in the late summer of that year it was
arranged to dispatch a commission in the following November "to examine on
the spot the possibilities of closer union between Trinidad and the Windward
Islands and the Leeward Islands or some of them.""88
Meanwhile, West Indians became disturbed as it appeared that the com-
mission would not be authorized to examine the matter of self-government as
well, and pressed for an expansion of its terms of reference.
This agitation culminated in the summoning by the Dominica Taxpayer's
Reform Association on August 21, 1932, of a conference of unofficial legislators
and other leaders of public opinion for the purpose of formulating an agreed
policy on the questions of federation and popular representation, and of pro-
moting common action with regard to representations to the commission."
In response to this call, representatives from Trinidad, Barbados, Grenada,
St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Monsterrat, Antigua, St. Kitts-Nevis, and Dominica,
assembled at Roseau, Dominica, on October 28, 1932, for a six day conference.
They agreed that the federation of all the islands represented, except Barbados,
was desirable and should be effected, and proceeded to draft and approve a set
of constitutional proposals. These provided for a unicameral legislature, to be
known as the Federal House of Assembly, composed of twenty-seven elected
and six official members, the former being elected annually by and from the
elected members of the island legislatures; a Federal Executive Council com-
posed of a Governor-General, three officials, and six members elected by and
from the Federal Assembly and responsible to it; a Governor-General who
would act upon the advice of the Executive Council and would exercise certain
functions then being performed by the Colonial Office; a unified civil service;
and a High Court of Justice with jurisdiction throughout the federation. The
Federal Government should be financed by pro rata contributions from the
member colonies. Additional territories could be admitted by approval of the
It was agreed that a delegation would meet the commission in each island
to urge adoption of these proposals, if its terms of reference were widened to
include self-government; otherwise they would boycott it.
Finally, the conference created the West Indian National League to work
for implementing the aims of the conference, to propagate the principles of
West Indian nationalism in each island, and "to secure common political action
in matters of common interest."'
The Closer Union Commission, composed of Sir Charles Fergusson and
Sir Charles Orr, arrived in the West Indies on November 23, 1932, spent three
months in the area trying to determine whether local opinion favoured closer
union and if so what form would be acceptable, and submitted their findings
and recommendations to the Secretary of State on April 7, 1933.
The commission reported that Trinidad was so strongly opposed to
embarking on experiments in closer association that it would be useless to give
further consideration to any proposal involving that colony. Conditions in the
Leewards and Windwards were such, they concluded, that it would be impracti-
cable at this stage to establish a system of real federation."'2 They could
recommend for those two groups only the loosest form of political association
in which each island would retain its individual executive and legislative
councils and largely regulate its own local affairs and finances. There should
be, they suggested, simply one governor for the entire group who would serve
as the sole channel of communication between the islands, and the Colonial
Office and visit the various islands frequently, but take no direct part in their
administration beyond giving or refusing his assent to all bills passed by the
island legislatures and legislating in the last resort on enumerated subjects. The
expenses of maintaining the governor and his staff would be met through contri-
butions from each island, based on its revenues.
As a means of co-ordinating the policies of the various islands, the governor
should, it was suggested, call together at least annually the administrators and
other delegates from each unit for a discussion of matters of common concern.
These conferences would have no executive or legislative power, but it was to
he hoped that they would contribute to the evolution of a closer union.
The commission acknowledged that these recommendations seemed to con-
stitute a retrograde step so far as closer union was concerned, but suggested
that actually this would be a tentative first step toward a real federation em-
bracing other British possessions in the Caribbean area as well. The psycho-
logical effect of this act would be to encourage the idea of a united West Indies;
and, with the continuation of the Standing Conference, the concept of a broader
federation would be kept in view and, it was hoped, eventually achieved. The
commissioners regarded their proposal as an effort "to lay a sound foundation
for a structure designed eventually to grow, if the communities concerned desire,
into a West Indian Federation, taking its proper place in that intricate mosaic
which constitutes the British Empire.""9 Thus they shared with many West
Indians the vision of a wider federation, and, like them, regarded this as a move
in that direction rather than as an end in itself.
The Secretary of State, after giving preliminary consideration to the com-
mission's report, directed the Governors of the Leewards and Windwards to
work out the financial implications of the closer union proposals. Before this
task was completed, the proposals together with a preliminary financial estimate
were transmitted to the legislatures for debate. The Secretary of State served
notice at this point that special consideration would be required if the final
estimates called for increased expenditures, and that H.M.G. did not regard the
proposals as implying in any way a reduction in the power of the governor."
The West Indian reaction was mixed. A conference of delegates from
St. Vincent, Antigua, Montserrat, St. Kitts, and St. Lucia met in St. Lucia in
May, 1934, under the auspices of the West Indian National League to consider
the commission's report. It approved the proposals in principle as the first step
toward West Indian federation, but recommended the reduction of the estimates
by 3,344 through salary cuts.'5 The Legislative Council of St. Lucia, which
had been recommended as the federal capital, unanimously approved the report
after very little discussion; but the legislative debates elsewhere together with
other discussions outside the council chambers revealed considerable opposition
to the report and the estimates."
The Secretary of State, after examining this reaction and after learning that
the completed estimates indicated that the scheme would require an increased
annual expenditure of at least 6,000 plus the initial non-recurrent expenditure,
concluded that "it is not practicable now to proceed with a scheme of closer
union." He was not willing to have revised estimates prepared nor simply to
appoint a common governor, as had been suggested in some quarters, for this
would be a "union only in name without the germ of future federation.""
But the popular demand for federation in the West Indies was not silenced
by this decision.
The West Indian National League and various Representative Government
Associations did become moribund in the following years as some of the
nationalist leaders deserted the movement or died; but the leadership previously
exercised by these organizations passed quickly to the new labor unions and
labor parties springing up throughout the area. These groups pressed not only
for better wages and working conditions but also for universal suffrage, self-
government, and federation. As the cause of federation thus became identified
with the rapidly developing labor movement, it gained more mass support and
grew more powerful. This also served to draw Barbados and Jamaica increas-
ingly into the federal movement for several of the labor leaders in those two
islands were staunch federationists."
Spokesmen for these groups appealed in person to the Colonial Office for
federation. Cipriani urged it upon Colonial Secretary Ormsby-Gore during his
visit to London as the Trinidad representative at the coronation of George VI
and in accordance with the Secretary's request submitted to him a statement of
the case for federation." Grantley Adams, the leader of the Barbados Progres-
sive League, journeyed to England in September 1937 to, in his words, "knock
at the doors of the Colonial Office asking for federation."100
In the fall of 1937 there was an indication of support for federation in a body
which had traditionally been lukewarm at best to the idea of closer association
-the Barbados House of Assembly. At its October 12 session, C. A. Braithwaite
called upon the Barbados Government to prepare a scheme for federation of the
British West Indies and British Guiana and to urge its acceptance upon the
Secretary of State. He asked his colleagues to change their minds, as he had
done, about the desirability of participating in such an undertaking. Only five
of the twenty-four Assemblymen rose to speak on the proposal, and it was not
submitted to a vote; but H. A. Vaughan proclaimed that this marked "a new
epoch in the outlook of this House on the question of federation.""'1 It was
opposed only on the grounds that any request to the Colonial Office should be
a joint rather than a single one from Barbados alone, and that resolutions of
this type could not bring federation any nearer since it could only come in an
It was the outbreak in the mid-1930's of a series of disturbances throughout
the region, however, which shook Britain from its complacency concerning the
West Indies. These indicated that something was drastically wrong in the area,
and that corrective measures were required. Mr. Morgan Jones charged in the
House of Commons on June 14, 1938, that the problems which had led to these
riots were both economic and constitutional and under the latter head he
attacked the maintenance of so many separate governments and suggested that
H.M.G. consider their amalgamation.'02 The situation seemed so serious that it
was deemed expedient to appoint on August 5, 1938, a strong ten-member Royal
Commission under the chairmanship of Lord Moyne to investigate social and
economic conditions and related matters in all the British Caribbean territories
and to submit recommendations for action.
In order to formulate their views for presentation to this commission,
representatives from labor unions and parties in British Guiana, Barbados and
Trinidad assembled in Port-of-Spain in November 1938. They approved a draft
constitution for a federal government embracing all the British Caribbean terri-
tories which had been prepared by Grantley Adams of Barbados and which was
based in part on the Australian constitution and in part on the recommendations
of the 1932 Dominica Conference. It provided for a Governor-General, a Federal
Executive Council with an unofficial majority and advisory duties, and a
Federal Legislative Council which would be unicameral and composed of fifty-
two members elected on the basis of universal suffrage. Each colony would be
required to contribute, in proportion to its revenue, to the financial support of
the federal government."'"
The commission after taking evidence in each of the colonies from October
1938, to April 1939, submitted its report at the end of the year. It found that
"many political circles in the West Indies" had been taking "a lively and
growing interest" in federation since the dropping of the Fergusson-Orr pro-
posals, and that some were advocating "wide measures of federation to cover
all the British colonies in the Caribbean area. But, in spite of the advance in
local opinion, the commissioners concluded that "there is room for doubting
the readiness of West Indian opinion to accept federation in principle," that
"the obstacles are still too serious to be readily surmounted, and that it would
not yet be opportune to attempt a general federation.""1
This was, however, they held, "the end to which policy should be directed,"
and some progress toward that goal could be made "by the exposition of its
theoretical advantages and by testing these in practice, as soon as a suitable
opportunity presents itself, through the amalgamation of some of the smaller
units." More specifically, they recommended that the Leewards and Windwards
be united on the pattern of the existing Leeward federation. The authority of
the federal legislature should be quite extensive and the insular governments
would act only on "questions of local application. This step should be taken
"at the earliest opportunity"--if the islands affected proved willing and after
substantial improvement had been made in inter-island communication."'s5
In addition, Barbados, British Guiana and Trinidad should be encouraged
to amalgamate their services with those of the Leeward-Windward federation
as a step toward political union with them. Indeed, the services of all the
colonies in the area should be unified if this proved acceptable to West Indian
opinion. A start should be made with the medical departments. This was said
to be essential "if the West Indies are to work towards a federation which will
have more than a nominal significance.""'"
On February 20. 1940, the bare recommendations of the Moyne Commission
were published-the release of the full report being delayed until June 1945-
and the Secretary of State promised in the House of Commons that the Govern-
ment would act without delay on its findings."' An official statement of policy
announced that H.M.G. was engaged in consultation with the West Indian
governments regarding the proposals, and was "anxious to act as early as
possible in the spirit of the recommendations as a whole."'08
There was no evidence, however, that any immediate effort was being made
to implement those recommendations relating to federation, and during the
following three years Parliament apparently displayed no interest in their fate.
Then, on January 27, 1943, Lord Faringdon declared in the House of Lords
that considerable disappointment had developed both in the Caribbean and in
the United Kingdom since the Moyne report as a result of H.M.G.'s failure to
produce "an all-embracing scheme for the West Indies as a whole," and urged
that they all be placed on "an equal footing" as a preliminary to federation.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies replied that the
Government was "definitely sympathetic to the federation of the Leewards
and Windwards" but that there were various obstacles beyond its control which
limited the extent to which the Moyne recommendations could be implemented."'
This exchange was followed shortly by further demands in the House of
Commons. On March 16, 1943, Dr. Morgan charged that the islands were being
"deliberately kept apart" affirmed that West Indians wanted very much to be
federated into one unit, and urged that they be so joined. The Secretary of State
countered with a repetition of the time-honored policy that federation could be
successful only when the desire for it came from below, and that this could
develop only gradually through continuous joint action to solve common
The adequacy of this policy was challenged a month later by Captain
Gammans on the ground that federation would never materialize unless the
Colonial Office stopped waiting for it to develop spontaneously and did some-
thing more positive to bring it about. He stated:
History tells us that it is very seldom that people sit down in cold
blood and decide to federate. This only happens either as the result of
war or by the influence of some outside power. We have the power today
and the responsibility to do something more in this direction than we have
in the past."'
The official policy was defended by Captain McDonald with the statement
that only some of the West Indians desired federation at the moment, and that
such a step must not be rushed through in advance of the further development
of the "urge from below.""' There was no suggestion as to how long this might
take; but a few months later the Governor of Jamaica expressed the view that
"federation would not be practical politics for at least a generation.""3
Near the end of 1943, however, Col. Stanley took a step toward the
implementation of the Moyne recommendation regarding the federation of the
Leewards and Windwards. He instructed the governors of those islands to confer
with each other and with their "confidential advisors" on the preparation of a
draft federal scheme to be subsequently submitted to the local communities for
West Indian federation also received some rather incidental support during
this period in connection with the proposals which were being discussed for the
post-war reorganization of the entire Empire into several regional groups-such
as East Africa, West Africa, the East Indies, and the West Indies-under the
administration of governors-general.
This plan was urged by Viscount Trenchard in the House of Lords on
May 6, 1942. He was supported by Earl De La Warr, Lord Hailey, and Lord
l'aringdon, but opposed by Lord Moyne and Viscount Elibank who now felt
that it would be impracticable in the West Indies. The Secretary of State for
the Colonies, Viscount Cranborne, replied that the proposal was such a far-
reaching one that he could not make a definite policy statement at that time.
He would only say that he would not rule out the possibility of such develop-
ment, but that if it did come it would do so "gradually in one region after
another as the practical situation may demand.""5
Lord Trenchard raised this matter again on February 9, 1943, and on
August 1, 1944; but the Parliamentary Under-Secretary replied only that it was
"under the most active consideration," and that "our minds are working along
Such a plan was also advocated by Jan Christian Smuts in the December 28,
1942 issue of Life, and before the Empire Parliamentary Association on
November 25, 1943, in a speech which, according to Arthur Creech Jones,
aroused considerable interest among M.P 's; and by Sir Edward Grigg in the
House of Commons on July 13, 1943, and in his book of that year on the
British Commonwealth. Both of these envisaged the British Caribbean terri-
tories as constituting a single group in the proposed reorganization."7
Meanwhile, the demand for federation had been increasing in the West
Indies since the visit of the Moyne Commission.
Shortly after that body left the Caribbean, representatives from each of the
Windward Islands and Dominica met at St. Lucia to explore the possibilities of
closer union under the terms of the recently passed Act of Parliament which
transferred Dominica from the Leeward to the Windward group. They reached
agreement on May 12, 1939, that the colonies represented should be merged into
a single federal government for such purposes as might subsequently be agreed
upon. The local legislatures should be retained, and each colony should not
relinquish its independence in matters of finance. This session was hailed by
one of the St. Vincent delegates as pointing the way for federation of all the
British Caribbean territories."
On February 28, 1944, the British Guiana and West Indies Labor Con-
ference, meeting at Georgetown with delegates from Barbados, Grenada, British
Guiana and Trinidad present, unanimously approved a resolution introduced
by Marryshow calling for the federation of all the British Caribbean territories."'
The Associated West Indian Chambers of Commerce at their June 1944
meeting in Barbados debated the.question of federation at great length, and
passed a resolution requesting a survey by the Comptroller for West Indian
Development and Welfare, "having as its objective the ultimate economic
federation of the West Indian Colonies or those Colonies to which federation
could reasonably apply." This was interpreted by the Secretary of State as
placing them on record "in favour of the 'Economic Federation' of the British
West Indies." 12
There were several additional signs of the "urge from below" in Jamaica.
A memorandum submitted on October 28, 1942, by fourteen elected legislators
and three representatives each from the People's National Party (P.N.P.) and
and the Federation of Citizen's Associations affirmed that federation was "a
logical West Indian development. The P.N.P. which was one of the two
leading political parties in the island, pledged its full support to the idea at its
1944 annual conference. Moreover, the Jamaica Legislative Council passed on
June 7, 1944, by a vote of 10-1, a motion introduced by E. E. A. Campbell,
elected member, which directed the Jamaican Government to sound out the
other British Caribbean territories on their attitude toward federation in the
interest of a joint request for H.M.G. to combine them into a federal govern-
:nent. Campbell pointed out that it was necessary to take the initiative in this
way because debates in the House of Commons had indicated that Britain
favored federation but would not force it and was waiting for the West Indies to
take the lead. '21
In Barbados, the powerful Progressive League in its statement of policy
just before the 1944 general election re-affirmed its support of federation, and
urged that active steps be taken in that direction.122
These developments strengthened the hands of those members of Parliament
who were urging H.M.G. to act quickly. Captain L. D. Gammans returned from
a two-month tour through the West Indies in the spring of 1944 as a member of
Parliamentary delegation sent out under the auspices of the Empire Parliamen-
tary Association, impressed with the necessity for federation and convinced
more than ever that the Colonial Office policy of hoping that it would come
about "by the efflux of time" was inadequate. He assured the Royal Empire
Society on May 31, 1944, that "a strong lead from this country at this moment
would have a far greater chance of success than many people realized."'23 In
a similar vein, Sir Stanley Reed affirmed in the House of Commons that federa-
tion was now within easy grasp of the Colonial Secretary if he would only take
In response, Col. Stanley undertook on July 20, 1944, to define once again
British policy and to indicate its possible future development. He stated:
It is our declared policy to get the greatest integration the people of
those islands themselves want. A good deal of progress has been made in
recent years in getting discussion, conferences and decisions upon an
all-island or all-Caribbean basis, which is the beginning of any scheme
of closer political union The one thing that might delay or even in
the end entirely destroy that prospect would be to force a decision too
lie seemed to believe that the time for some move by H.M.G. might be now
near at hand. He expressed confidence that the required feeling of unity was
growing and suggested that the strength of this sentiment might be gauged by
watching the reaction to his recent proposal concerning the introduction of a
unified currency for the region and his forthcoming recommendation for a
University of the West Indies.
It seems likely that the Colonial Office turned at about this point to the
preparation of the federation dispatch which was to be sent on March 14, 1945,
Sir Gordon Lethem, Governor of British Guiana later revealed that he had been
shown a preliminary draft of this dispatch in August 1944 when he was in
London, had expressed his belief that there was "a predominance of opinion in
favor of federation" in British Guiana, and had suggested some modifications
in the draft which were incorporated in the final version.'2' It would appear
from his remarks that Col. Stanley in fact circulated this preliminary draft
among all the West Indian governors for their reactions, and that they generally
agreed that the time was ripe for such a move.
In all probability, this dispatch was given further consideration at the
Conference of West Indian governors which the Secretary of State called in
London in the fall of 1944. No agenda or report of this session was released,
but Sir Bede Clifford, the Governor of Trinidad, when asked upon his return
to Port-of-Spain whether federation had been discussed, replied that "time will
show that" and expressed the view that federation was inevitable.'27
A final development which must have strengthened Col. Stanley's belief
that the pending dispatch should be sent was the action of the conference of
unofficial legislators of the Windward Islands, which met at St. George's,
Grenada, on January 17 and 18, 1945, to discuss the Moyne recommendations
relating to constitutional reform and federation. These delegates adopted a reso-
lution expressing agreement with the recommendation that the Leewards and
Windwards should be federated as a test of the advantages of a wider union, and
suggesting that a conference of unofficial members of the several legislative
councils be held, if the Leeward Islanders favored the project. Unanimous
agreement was reached that the federal authority should have power to raise
federal revenue by taxation for federal purposes, that there should be a federal
customs, that the authority of the central legislature should extend only to
enumerated matters, and that its members should be chosen from and by the
elected members of the insular legislative councils. The conference also unani-
mously requested the Secretary of State to convene a conference of delegates
from all the British Caribbean territories to discuss a general federation and to
draw up proposals if agreement could be reached in principle.'2'
The Governor of the Windward Islands forwarded these resolutions to the
Secretary of State with the suggestion that if he decided to convene the federa-
tion conference, he should submit to it concrete proposals but should permit it
to consider counter proposals. 2'
This historical survey would seem to indicate that the United Kingdom had
favored the forging of some form of closer association among its colonies in the
Caribbean area long before the Stanley dispatch. It had in fact made several
attempts through the years to link some or all of them in a variety of patterns;
but could in 1945 point only to the Leeward Island Federation, the common
governorship of the Windward Islands, the unification of Trinidad and Tobago,
and the fusion of Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice into British Guiana as the
measure of its success.
Since 1905 the British Government had repeatedly proclaimed its ultimate
goal to be the federation of all its Caribbean dependencies, but had consistently
maintained that it should not act directly to bring this about until there had
developed a widespread popular demand for such a change. To apply pressure
or to move prematurely would only delay its final attainment, it was held.
Meanwhile, the Colonial Office should seek to stimulate support for federation
indirectly by encouraging all types of intercolonial co-operation.
This was still the official policy at the time of the Stanley dispatch. The
sending of that message did not represent, therefore, a break in continuity but
rather simply a decision that the West Indian desire for federation, which had
been growing steadily, was now sufficiently strong to warrant such a direct lead
trom Britain in its favor.
1. JAMES A. WILLIAMSON. The uarzbbee Islands under the Proprietary Patents,
London, 1926, pp. 23, 28, 40-41, 106; J. H. Rose, A. P. Newton and E. A. Benian
(eds.). The Cambridge History of the British Empire, Cambridge, 1929, v. I., pp. 143-5,
407; ARTHUR P NEWTON, The European Nations in the West Indies, 1493-1688,
London, 1933, pp. 143-5; AUCHER WARNER, Sir Thomas Warner-Pioneer of the West
Indies, London, 1933, pp. 27-33; C. S. S. HIGHAM, The Development of the Leeward
Islands under the Restoration, 1660-1688. A Study of the Foundations of the Old
Colonial System, Cambridge, 1921, pp. 1-2, 71.
2. ALGERNON E. ASPINALL, "West Indian Federation-Its Historical Aspect"
United Empire, v. 10 (n.s.), February, 1919, p. 58; IIIGIIA., op. cit. pp. 13, 70-6;
WILLIAMSON, op. cit.. pp. 122-3, 132-3, 199, 205; C. S. S. HIGHAM, "The General Assem-
bly of the Leeward Islands", English Historical Review, v. 41, April-July, 1926, p. 192;
NEWTON, op. cit. pp. 204-5, 243; ROSE, NEWTON and BENIAN, op. cit. v. I, pp. 241, 244.
3. ASPINALL, op. cit., p. 59; HIGHAM, Development of the Leeward Islands,
pp. 77, 228-9, 231; HIGHAM, "General Assembly" pp. 195, 380, 382. 384-6;
HuINME WRONG, Government of the West Indies, Oxford, 1923, pp. 146-7;
W L. BURN, The British West Indies, London, 1951, p. 147; ROSE, NEWTON, and
BENIAN, op. cit., v. 1, pp. 408-9.
4. Parl. Papers 1884, C. 3840, Report of the Royal Commission Appointed in
December 1882 to Inquire into the Public Revenues, Debts, and Liabilities of the
Islands of Jamaica, Grenada, St. Vincent, Tobago, and St. Lucia, and the Leeward
Islands, I, p. 39; Parl. Papers, 1894, C. 7477, Report of the Royal Commission to
Enquire into the Condition and Affairs of the Island of Dominica and Correspondence
Relating Thereto, p. xi; The Grenada Handbook, Directory and Almanac for the Year
1912, London, 1912, p. 26; HicGHAM, General Assembly, pp. 369-70, 375, 379; WRONG,
op. cit., p. 155.
5. C 38-40, 1, p. 39; C. 7477, p. xi; Grenada Handbook, pp. 27, 30; HIGHAM,
generall Assembly, pp. 377, 379; WRONG, loc. cit.
6. ASPINALL, loc. cit.; C. GIDEON MURRAY, A United West Indies, London, 1912,
24; WRONG, op. cit., p. 147.
7. C. 3840, I, p. 39; C. 7477, p. xi; WRONG, op. pp. 147, 155-6; BURN, loc
8. SIR CECIL CLEMENTI, A Constitutional History of British Guiana, London, 1937,
pp. 83-4; ASPINALL, op. cit., p. 61; STEPHEN L. CAIGER, British Honduras-Past and
Present, London, 1951, p. 131; WRONG, op. cit., pp. 102-5.
9. Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, 197 HI. C. Deb. 3s. c. 1889, 15 July.
1869; HIGHAIM, "General Aassembly" p. 387-8; BRUCE HAMILTON, Barbados and
British West Indian Confederation, 1871-1885" Caribbean Ilstorical Review, v. L.
December, 1950, pp. 80, 84-5; JAME.l A. FROUDE, The English in the West Indies or
the Bow of Ulysses, Lon,lon 1888. p.
10. Parl. Papers, 1871, C. 353, Correspondence Respecting the Federation of the
Leeward Islands, pp. 1, 4, 11, 30, 32, 36-7, 63; C. 7477, xvii, 190; Under-Secretary of
State, 205 H. C. Deb., 3s. c. 986, 31 March, 1871; HAMILTON, op. cit., p. 81.
34 and 35 Vie., 107; C. 3840, p. 3.
12. Parl. Papers, 1876, C. 1539, Papers Relating to the Late Disturbances in
Barbados, pp. 1-2, 5, 8, 80-1, 205-10; HAMILTON, op. cit., pp. 82-90.
13. C. 1539, p. 116; C. 3840, I, p. 39; Parl. Papers 1876, C. 1559, Further Papers
Relating to the Disturbances in Barbados, pp. 195-7; Parl. Papers, 1877, C. 1679,
Further Papers Relating to the Late Disturbances in Barbados, pp. 46-55; ASPINALL,
op. cit. p. 62; WRONG, op. cit. pp. 156-7.
14. C. 3840, I. pp. 40-1; II, pp. 43-4, 77; III, p. 3-4, 16.
15. Secretary of State, 290 H. L. Deb., 3s. c. 9, 4 July, 1884.
16. Parl. Papers, 1884-85, C. 4882, Papers Relating to the Proposed Union of
Islands of Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Tobago, pp. 1-3, 6-29, 34-47; Under-
Secretary of State, 298, H. C. Deb., 3s. c. 143, 11 May, 1885.
17. HEWAN CRAIG, The Legislative Council of Trinidad and Tobago, London, 1952,
p. 2; ASPINALL, op. cit., p. 60; WRONG, op. cit. p. 159.
18. FROUDE, op. p. 354.
19. NICHOLAS DARNELL DAVIS, Colonial Consolidation-The West Indian Dominion,
Georgetown, B.G. 1890, pp. 13-4.
20. Ibid. pp. 5, 38. This is a collection of articles dealing with federation which he
had written in 1886, 1887, and 1889.
21. C. S. SALMON, The Caribbean Confederation-A Plan for the Union of the
Fifteen British West Indian Colonies, London, 1888, pp. 141-5.
22. 355 H. C. Deb., 3s. 1755.
23. C. 7477, pp. xvii-xviii, xxv-xxxvii.
24. Parl. Papers, 1898, C. 8655, Report of West Indian Royal Commission, pp. 23-4,
72-3, 184, 188.
25. SIR GEORGE BADEN-POWELL, "Hope for the West Indies" Fortnightly Review,
69, February, 1898, pp. 317-8.
26. 63 H. C. Deb., 4s., c. 652-3.
27. NORMAN LAMONT, Problems of the Antilles-A collection of Speeches and
Writings on West Indian Questions, Glasgow, 1912, p. 42.
28. 146 H. C Deb., 4s., c. 696, 701, 713, 715, 722.
29. Ibid, c. 720.
30. ALGERNON E. ASPINALL, The British West Indies-Their History, Resources
and Progress, London, 1912, p. 418; WRONG, op. cit. p. 158.
31. Lubbock's address before the Colonial Section of the Society of Arts, The
Times, March 7, 1906; ASPINALL, The British West Indies, pp. 421-3; DAVSON, letter to
the editor, The Times, September 16, 1905.
32. NORMAN LAMONT, "The West Indian Problem A Reply to Imperialist,"
Contemporary Review, v. 92, November, 1907, pp. 672-8.
33. 191 II. C. Deb., 4s., 80, 25 June, 1908.
34. NORMAN LAMONT, "The West Indian Recovery", Contemporary Review, 101,
February, 1912, p. 241
35. LAMONT, Problems of the Antilles, pp. 177-8.
36. The Times, November 23, 1911; MURRAY, op. especially chapter 6 and
37. 122 H. L. Deb., 5s. 923; 6 May, 1942.
38. JOHN FINLATER, "Federation Dream of 50 Years Ago" Jamaica Daily Gleaner,
March 10, 1950; Trinidad Guardian, April 14, 1950.
39. Reprinted in the Grenada West Indian, September 16, 1947.
40. Louis S. MEIKLE, Confederation of the British West Indies vs. Annexation to
the United States of America-A Political Discourse on the West Indies, London, 1912,
pp. 21, 39.
41. NICHOLAS DARNELL DAVIS, Consolidation of the British West Indies, London
), 1912 ( ), pp. 1-3.
42. MEIKLE, op. cit., p. 144; Trinidad Guardian, April 14, 1950.
43. STEPHEN BONSAL, The American Mediterranean, New York, 1912, pp. 15, 387.
See also p. 16.
44. The Times. May 24, 1910; ibid., October 8, 1913.
45. 34 H. C. Deb., 5s. c. 1332, 27 February, 1912; 37 H. C. Deb. 5s. c. 33,
15 April, 1912; 42 H. C. Deb., 5s. c. 332. 9 October, 1912; 45 H. C. Deb., 5s. c. 1478.
18 December, 1912.
46. Trinidad Guardian, April 14, 1950, FINLATER, loc. cit., T. A. Marryshow,
Grenada Legislative Council session of June 21, 1950 as reported in the Grenada West
Indian, June 28, 1950; RANDOLPH MITCHELL (ed) His Best Orations-A Summary
of the Activities of Capt. A. A. Cipriani, Port-of-Spain. Trinidad. n.d.; O. D. BRISBANE,
St. Vincent Legislative Council Minutes, 13 May. 1950, pp. 38-9; E. DUNCAN, ibid.
17 July, 1950, pp. 33; PERCY F. MARTIN, "Overseas Political Confederation", Quarterly
Review, v. 237, January 1922, pp. 188, 191; W ARTHUR LEWIS, Labour in the West
Indies The Birth of a Workers' Movement (Fabian Society Research Series No. 44).
London, 1939. p. 33; W. ADOLPHE ROBERTS, "Future of the British Caribbean" Survey
Graphic, v. 30, April 1941, p. 231; ERIC WILLIAMS, The Negro in the Caribbean,
Washington, 1942, p. 89; H. V. WISEMAN, The West Indies Towards a New Dominion?
(Fabian Society Research Series No. 130), London, 1948, p. 33.
47. H. R. HAREWOOD, Pro and Con-Thoughts on West Indian Federation,
Georgetown, B.G., 1948, p. 32.
48. Jamaica, L. C. Min., 4 August, 1921, p. 306.
49. The Times, June 14, 1918.
50. Ibid. November 13, 1918.
51. Parl. Papers. 1926, Cmd. 2672, Report of the West Indian Conference. pp. 3-4;
SIR EDWARD DAVSON, letter to the editor. The Times. December 18, 1923.
52. 115 H. C. Deb.. 5s. c. 899, 7 May, 1919; 144 H. C. Deb., 5s., c. 1078, 12 July,
1921; 142 H. C. Deb., 5s., c. 1669-70, 7 June, 1921; 143 H. C. Deb., 5s. c. 215-6,
14 June, 1921. See also GIDEON MURRAY. "Canada and the British West Indies",
United Empire, v. 10 (n.s.), February, 1919, p. 58 in which he called for West Indian
federation as a preliminary to their entering the Canadian federation.
53. 142 H. C. Deb., 5s., c. 1668-9, 7 June, 1921; 144 H. C. Deb., 5s., c. 1587-8,
14 July, 1921. For further comments on his plan, see SIR SAMUEL HOARE. "The Crown
Colony Problem", Nineteenth Century, v. 89, April 1921, p. 611; Parl. Papers, 1922,
Cmd. 1679, Report by the Hon. E. F L. Wood on His Visit to the West Indies and
British Guiana, December, 1921-February, 1922, pp. 28-9.
54. 144 H. C. Deb., 5s., 1560, 14 July, 1921. See also 142 H. C. Deb., 5s.,
c. 1668-9, 7 June, 1921.
55. WOOD, 156 H. C. Deb., 5s., c. 223, 4 July, 1922.
56. The Times, September 14, 1921.
57. Cmd. 1679, pp. 29, 32-3.
58. 156 H. C. Deb., 5s. c. 235-6.
59. ORMSBY-GORE, ibid., c. 260; MURRAY, ibid., c. 275-6; SYDNEY OLIVER,
"Mr. Wood on the West Indies," Contemporary Review, 122, July, 1922, p. 157.
60. Trinidad Legislative Council Paper No. 103, 1923, p. 3.
61. Ibid., pp. 4-11.
62. 167 H. C. Deb., 5s. c. 492.
63. Cmd. 2672, p. 4; PERCY HURD, 153 H. C. Deb., 5s. r 1376, 3 May, 1922;
Jamaica L. C. Min. 15 May, 1923, p. 182; The Times. March 31, 1923.
64. Message from the Governor of the Leeward Islands to the Antigua Legislative
Council, No. 2, March 23, 1925, Antigua L. C. Min. for half-year ended 30 June, 1925,
65. The Times, December 13, 1923, ibid., May 29, 1925.
66. Secretary of State's dispatch of January 28, 1925, Min. of Proceedings of
Barbados L.C. and House of Assembly, 1924-5, Appendix, Doc. No. 289, p.I.;
Governor's Message to House of Assembly. December 7, 1925, Min. 1925-6, Appendix,
Doc. 206; Governor's speech to the Legislative Council, Barbados L.C. Deb., v. 39,
p. 88, 2 February, 1926; Barbados H. A. Deb. 39, p. 236.
67. Cmd. 2672, p. 4.
68. Parl. Papers, 1926, Cmd. 2769, Imperial Conference, 1926-Appendices to the
Summary of Proceedings, pp. 117-8. See also Parl. Papers, 1928-29, Cmd. 3268, Memo-
randum Showing the Progress and Development in the Colonial Empire and in the
Machinery for Dealing with Colonial Questions from November, 1924 to November.
1928. p. 70.
69. British Guiana Combined Court Paper No. 28 of 1926, B.G. Combined Court
Min. Ist and 2nd Special Sessions of 1926, Appendix, pp. 1-2.
70. Report of the First West Indies Conference held in Barbados, January-
February, 1929, London, 1929. p. 6.
71 227 H. C. Deb., 5s., c. 1426, 30 April. 1929; Circular dispatch of March 22,
1929, Leewards Islands Gazette, v. 57, p. 89.
72. The Times. March 22, 1932.
73. 219 H. C. Deb., 5s. 5-6; 231 H. C. Deb., 5s. c. 2062.
74. SIR FRED S. JAMES, Letter to editor, The Times. February 23, 1931.
75. Report of First British Guiana and West Indies Labour Conference held at
Georgetown, B.G January 12-14, 1926, pp. 21-2. See also ibid. pp. 12, 23, 27.
76. The Times, August 10, 1928.
77. Parl. Papers, 1932-33, Cmd. 4383, Report of the Closer Union Commission
(Leeward Island:., Windward Island,, Trinidad and Tobago), Appendix A, p. 35.
78. Grenada L. C. Min., 15 August, 1930, pp. 6-7; ibid., 16 January, 1931, p. II.
80. Cmd. 4383, p. 35.
81. Col. No. 49, 1930, Report of West Indian Sugar Commission, p. 19.
82. 248. H. C. Deb., 5s., c. 1514-5.
83. MORGAN, ibid., c. 1521; LORD ELIBANK, letter to editor, The Times, Feb-
ruary 24, 1931; SIR FRED S. JAMES, letter to editor, ibid., February 23, 1931;
G. B. HADDON-SMITH, letter to editor, ibid. April 7, 1931.
84. 248 H. C. Deb. 5s., c. 1537, 19 February, 1931. See also 245 H. C. Deb.,
5s. c. 626-7, 20 November, 1930.
85. Cmd. 4383, Appendix A, pp. 35-6.
86. DR. SHIELS, 252 H. C. Deb., 5s., c. 2483-5, 22 May, 1931; SIR PHILLIP
CUNLIFFE-LISTER, 261 H. C. Deb., 5s., c. 1133-4, 11 February, 1932.
87. 263 H. C. Deb., 5s. c. 183.
88. Cmd. 4383, p. iv.
89. Trinidad Guardian, August 23, 1932; ibid., September 6, 1932.
90. Proceedings of the West Indian Conference held at Roseau, Dominica, October-
November, 1932, Castries, St. Lucia, nd., pp. 5-6, 11-15.
91. Ibid., p. 17.
92. Cmd. 4383, p. 7.
93. Ibid., p. 33. See also p. 10.
94. 283 H. C. Deb., 5s., c. 1055, 20 November, 1933; St. Lucia L. C. Paper No. I
of 1934 Min. for Ist Half of 1934 p. 18.
95. ANGIER McVANE (who served as chairman), St. Lucia L. C. Min. 30 October,
1934, p. 22; Trinidad Guardian. May 2, and 13, 1934.
96. St. Lucia L. C. Com., 28 March, 1934, pp. 11-15; Antigua L. C. Min.
29 March, 1934, p. 19; Grenada L. C. Min., 28 March, 1934, pp. 16-19; Trinidad Daily
Mirror, October 24, 1933; Trinidad Guardian, October 21, 1933 and March 29, 1934.
97. Dispatch of September 21, 1934, St. Lucia L. C. Paper No. 6 of 1934, Min.
for 2nd Half of 1934 p. 15; 292 H. C. Deb., 5s., c. 193, 31 October, 1934; Parl. Papers,
1944-45, Cmd. 6607, West Indian Royal Commission Report, p. 326.
98. WILLIAS, op. cit. pp. 84-91; ERIC WILLIAMS, "The Impact of the Interna-
tional Crisis upon the Negro in the Caribbean," Journal of Negro Education, v. 10,
July 1941, p. 538; H. V. WISEMAN, A short History of the British West Indies, London,
1950, pp. 39, 121; Col. No. 215, 1947, Trade Union Organisation and Industrial Rela-
tions in Trinidad, p. 5; GEORGE PADMORE, The Life and Strugggles of Negro Toilers,
London, 1931, p. 105; C. L. R. JAMES, "A History of Negro Revolt," Fact, No. 18,
September 1938, pp. 76-9; ALEX ZEIDENFELT, "Political and Constitutional Develop-
ments in Jamaica" Journal of Politics, v. 14, August 1952, pp. 512-40; ANNETTE
BAKER Fox, Freedom and Welfare in the Caribbean A Colonial Dilemma, New York,
1949, p. 173; CAIGER, op. cit., p. 226; "Federation in the British Caribbean", Round
Table, v. 39, June 1949, p. 234.
99. Trinidad Guardian, June 30, 1937.
100. Report of Second Caribbean Labour Congress, Kingston, Jamaica, September
2-9, 1947, New World (monthly supplement to The Masses), October 1949, p. 7.
101. Barbados H. A. Deb., v. 49, p. 567, 12 October, 1937. See also ibid., p. 565-6,
102. 337 H. C. Deb., 5s., c. 103, 107.
103. Official Report of the British Guiana Labour Union Silver Jubilee Celebration
February 27, 1944, and the Third B.G. and West Indies Labour Conference held at
Georgetown, B.G., February 28-March 1, 1944, Georgetown, n.d. p. 43; Caribbean
Labour Congress, Official Report of Conference, Barbados Sept. 17-27, 1945, Bridgetown,
Barbados, n.d., p. I; GRANTLEY H. ADAMS, "Federation of the West Indies" in C. D.
Ramsey (ed), The Dawning of Federation, Bridgetown, 1946, p. 8; Barbados, Beacon.
November 8, 1946 and June 7, 1947; LEWIS, op. cit., p. 34.
104. Cmd. 6607, pp. 326-7, 336.
105. Ibid. pp. 149, 327-8.
106. Ibid. 333. See also ibid. pp. 329, 331-2, 435, 451.
107. 351 H. C. Deb., 5s., c. 1164.
108. Parl. Papers, 1939-40, Cmd. 6175, Statement of Policy on Colonial Develop-
ment and Welfare, p. 3.
109. 125 H. L. Deb., 5s., c. 777, 784, 789.
110. 387 H. C. Deb., 5s., c. 1123, 1125-6, 1141.
388 H. C. Deb., 5s., c. 1437, 15th April, 1943.
112. Ibid., 1482.
113. The Times, September 6, 1943.
114. Address by L. B. Freeston, Governor of the Leeward Islands, on April 25,
1946, Min. of General L. C. of the Leeward Islands, 1946, p. 1.
116. 125 H. L. Deb., 5s., 961, 972-3; 133 H. L. Deb., 5s., 49, 66.
117. JAN C. SMUTS, "The British Colonial Empire", Life, v. 13, December 28,
1942, p. 14; ARTHUR CREECH JONES, "Recent Advances in British Colonial Policy",
Pacific Affairs, v. 17, June 1944, 208; SIR EDWARD GRIGG, 391 H. C. Deb., 5s., c. 91-6;
GRIGG, The British Commonwealth-Its Place in the Services of the World, London,
1943, p. 44.
118. Trinidad Guardian, May 23, 1939.
119. Report, pp. 46-7. See also the speeches in support of federation by
A. A. Thorne of B.G., p. 44; VIVIAN HENRY of Trinidad, p. 16; and T. A. MARRYSHOW
of Grenada, p. 6.
120. Trinidad Guardian, July 8, 1944; Despatch from the Secretary of State for
the Colonies on Customs Union in the Caribbean Area-Proposed Formation of,
9 October, 1944, British Honduras Sessional Paper No. 299, 1944, 13 November, 1944.
121. Parl. Papers, 1942-43, Cmd. 6427, Jamaica Constitution. Despatch from the
Secretary of State for the Colonies to the Governor of Jamaica dated 10 February, 1943,
p. 7. RICHARD HART, "The Caribbean Labour Congress" Jamaica Arise! v. 1, March
1947, p. 12; Jamaica Legislative Council Proceedings, p. 181.
122. Barbados Beacon, November 8, 1946.
123. The Times. June 1, 1944; L. D. GAMMANS, "Dominant Needs of the British
West Indies", Crown Colonist, v. 14, August, 1944, p. 529.
124. 402 H. C. Deb., 5s., c. 410, 20 July, 1944.
125. Ibid.. c. 466.
126. British Guiana L. C. Deb., 18, 29 August, 1945, c. 581; ibid. 18 October,
1945, c. 1089, 1091, 1093, 1095.
127. Trinidad Guardian, October 26, 1944.
128. Minutes of a Meeting of the Conference of Delegates from the Windward
Island Legislatures, Grenada, 17-18 January, 1945, St. Vincent L. C. Paper No. 11 of
1945, pp. 9, 12-13, 16.
129. Official Statement by Governor Grimble, Appendix to St. Vincent L. C.
Paper No. 11 of 1945.
The Life and Work of Norman Paul
M. G. SMITH
INTRODUCTION: THE PLACE AND THE THEME
THE scene of this story is Grenada, an island of about 120 square miles, just
a day's sail north-east of Trinidad at the south of the long curving Caribbean
archipelago. Originally colonised by the French, it passed into British hands
shortly before the American Revolution, at a period when Caribbean slavery
and Caribbean sugar were beginning to lose the affection of the British
Government and public. After the abolition of slavery, sugar went into a long
decline, and as estates changed hands in Grenada, it gradually gave way to
the cultivation of cocoa and nutmegs. But contemporary West Indian society
and culture provide an enduring monument of those early days.
In this story of Norman Paul the issues and forms of cultural cleavage
and opposing pulls are instanced with an almost fictional clarity and complete-
ness. The main field of conflict properly belongs to the sphere of rationale and
value, ritual and belief; but economic and political action also reflects this
cleavage, as do mating and kinship. Yet this story, except for its accidental
dramatic intensity and form, is not in any sense unusual or unrepresentative
of the people from whom Norman Paul is drawn. Its principal theme, that of
personal adjustment within a context of cultural diversity and marked social
differentiation, is true for the majority of British Caribbean populations. The
natural locus of this struggle is in the realm of value and belief, and in this
also Norman Paul's conflict is rather typical than unique. In a sense therefore
understanding of the account which he gives of his own life can contribute
much to the understanding of Caribbean society, perhaps most clearly because
no other record of comparable detail and scope has yet been published telling
us directly about the life of its folk, their ways and conditions.
I think Norman would agree that the unique development of his life
consists in the cult he has founded and the religious experience on which it is
based. About both some words of explanation are necessary. The Roman
Catholic Church, established locally during the days of French rule, remains
the largest congregation in Grenada, as also in nearby Trinidad. The Anglican
denomination which comes next in point of size, for a variety of reasons does
not represent the Protestant alternative to Catholicism as starkly as do many
small sects, such as the Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and
the like. Occupying a position at one extreme of sectarian Protestantism are
the Shouters. Shakers, Spiritual Baptists, who combine spirit-possession,
divination, the use ol cabalistic signs and other ritual differentiae with a
liturgy and ethic of "Protestant" character. At the other, Catholic extreme of
this dimension of folk religion are Shango or the African Dance, and its fore-
runner the Big Drum or Nation Dance cult. In Grenada since 1926 both the
Shouters and the followers of Shango have been forbidden under penalty of
law to hold services, but have nevertheless continued to do so.
The uniqueness of Norman Paul's cult leadership lies in its blending of
these diverse traditions, together with other elements, most notably Adventist
and folk-lore. From his account of these developments we can also see the
inevitability of such a process occurring sooner or later in some form, in view
of the compelling sanctions which folk tradition accords to revelation by
prophecy or dream. Thus the basis or cultural instability and change is
exposed, and the way is clear for syncretism, invention, and the like, by
virtue of the most basic tenet of the folk Weltanschaung itself. In Norman
Paul's case, Puritanism, Shango, Shakerism, and belief in magic are all com-
bined within a framework of Old Testament belief and Pauline morality.
Doubtless the cultural persistence of Norman Paul's reorganisation of the
traditional elements of folk religion will rest above all on its relative pragmatic
utility; even more certainly, it cannot persist beyond his lifetime in the form
given to it by him, since its major premise, the primacy of revelations, is itself
a final charter of change. Even so, the experience behind these developments,
the conversion, extraordinary recovery from a breakdown, call it what you
will, the forces which produced this crisis, and the reorganisation which fol-
lowed in its wake make a human story very much worth telling, especially to
those whose interests are the relations of individual behaviour and social forms.
THE CHILDHOOD OF A PREACHER
AT MY MOTHER
My mother worked in the field at Hampstead estate, weeding sometimes,
treading cocoa sometimes, drying cocoa sometimes. My father was a cocoa
buyer, he had licence for buying cocoa. They were married and they were
living together. He didn't work on the estate in those days, it was only later
he started to work on the estate. We were living at Woodleigh near Hampstead
then, and I was about six or seven years old.
My father used to go around buying cocoa from all the people who have
little patches, one acre, half-acre; suppose he would buy cocoa at five pence
a pound, and when he turn it over the price was ten pence a pound, he would
get five pence commission. He never did anything else. He kept a place as a
Before my father went on the estate, my mother had her own house there,
and when things got very bad she used to work, ten pence per day. She
couldn't get any boards for a house, so she asked the gentleman of the estate,
Ted White, to give her a house, and fortunately this house of mine is the
very house he gave her; she lived more than forty years in it. My father went
with her to live in it. After old Mr. White died they sold the house to her
for 8 not very long before the war. I took it off the estate just two years
ago and brought it here, that she could live near me, and I repaired it with
Trinidad woods, hardwood that they have there. After they get the house, my
father was not buying cocoa any more because he got sick, he was suffering
with a bad foot and he couldn't do any walking about.
My father resembled that old man Papa Lazarus in Carriacou, he wasn't so
lall, every thing like him. My mother had ten children, but she used to work
up till the time I came down here, she used to plant garden up till the year
I came back from Trinidad, she had big gardens when she was eighty. She
died at eighty-six, that is last year. That time she was still young and strong,
she wasn't in bed, she took ill and passed away just like that.
But my father, at the time he came to Hampstead, he could do nothing;
then when the doctors got injections he went to Dr. Jones, he gave him
three injections, he got better, and he got a job as a stock-keeper at Hamp-
stead on the estate. He work until he stop and he died. He was about twelve
years on the estate before he died, and he died around 1936.
My mother had ten children, two died, both in Trinidad, a girl and a boy.
I was the sixth.
Once I was going to school and I went to pick some plums and I get it
good that day-my father set his heart and beat me, he felt hurt. Some ways
he was very strict, if there are children in the road playing there, we can't
go and look at them, he didn't want us to have anything to do with other
children because some of them were rude or so on, and he didn't want us to
get together with them to adopt their principles. My mother agreed, the
children were rude. They would trouble people and abuse and curse at them
when they pass in the road, and my parents didn't like that. Everybody used
to say that my mother have the best children for respect or so. Our home
training was good and I was obedient. My mother and father never allow us
to go about to play like other children does, they say when it is night we must
stay at home. Sometimes they tell us of things that passed before; they told
us of the cholera, and they told us of the darkness that took place-my mother
said she was outside one morning sweeping the yard, and it got dark, the
fowls went back to roost again and everybody went back inside, they light
lamps, they lay down and prayed. She couldn't tell how long it lasted, but
afterwards it got clear again, she knew that.
My father would be there too at night, sometimes. He related us a story
about the Munich Africans.' There was a lady by the name of Ma Fam; she
used to go in the lake, and when she goes there they would have dance for
three weeks, and she would tell them as long as she didn't come back not to
stop beating the drum, and she would tell them she going to get messages, to
come back. She would walk in the water and sit down, until they didn't see her,
and they would be beating that drum night and day until, the same hour she
leave today, the same hour she would make a circle in the water and come out
and tell them of the messages she get: when they would have bad season, when
they would get plenty rain, whether it would not have crop for the year, and
so on. And he said, during each time she remain there the sun was very slight,
she would pray and rain would come, and when the rain was reaching them
again, she would pray and the rain would pass, it would not fall near where
He lived at Munich, and the Munich people are Africans; according to
what my father told me, some of the African people from Africa settled around
that area. There was an old man by the name of Mr. Robert, he was the
head of the Africans. I met a fellow at Trinidad who were living near to him
once, and he told me concerning Mr. Robert. He said he knew Mr. Robert very
well, and he used to control the spirit with the coconut broom, he said that
spirit, when it remain this side of the house, it grow till it reach over there.
They call that spirit Egungun.2 And he said when it have to go, Mr. Robert
would whisper it, and when it coming it would whisper, and Mr. Robert know
the whisper, and when it come it take the broom and it would stand up. If
it touch anybody, in three days they dead. That is the reason why the Africans
were wicked in those days; everybody 'fraid Egungun, if anybody saying some-
thing evil about them, they call them in the yard, he just touch them, and in
three days they dead. He told me one night when it came, the old man wasn't
expecting it, and it came, it reach inside the house, every man have to hide
under the bed, let it pass, because it can hurt anybody. That was the Papa
Robert who was the head of Munich African Dance. I never met him.
My mother never allow us children to have quarrels with one another.
Even after I was married, I never live two or three days we didn't meet
together, and whenever we met we talk of different things, we made jokes, we
never have any quarrels or anything like that.
There was an Indian woman who kept a shop near my mother's house,
and we used to go at her sometimes to give us something, and we would
eat that during the day until sometimes seven o'clock at night mother come
home, sometimes she bring something and cook for us, sometimes up till ten
o'clock, we don't get meal till then. If she is coming with the peas we have to
shell them, sometimes seven, half-past seven we put that on the fire; sometimes
ten, half-past ten we get our supper. And she wake in the morning and goes to
work again, and she used to work for only twenty cents per day at that time.
She worked five days a week, she had regular five days. She had a garden
of her own on the estate, scarcely anything to talk of, a small piece about
a quarter of an acre for planting corn and peas. No rent. But the estate
used to sell the bluggoes3 to them, and the breadfruit they get free. Sometimes
a bunch of bluggoes the estate give them for fourpence, sometimes sixpence,
according to the size. Pears they used to get free, mangoes and breadfruit were
free. Nothing else, but water coconuts they used to give them, and they could
have pick up a dry coconut, yes. Things like wood for building a house they
would give you. Anywhere you pass in those days and you wish any wood, you
could just take it, for house concern or kitchen concern, building a house or
burning. You could cut down a tree, you wouldn't have to speak to anybody.
But afterwards you have to ask for that or they don't allow.
From after 1914, when everything turn up and change taking place, you
had to ask for everything. Everybody on the estate, when I was young, had
a garden, some have more than a quarter of an acre, some have three piece
of garden. My mother had a quarter of an acre on the estate, but she had no
other land nor my father.
After a baby was born my mother would spend eight days inside, on the
ninth day the lady would come and bathe her and put her out, and then she
would go out; and when she have a month and a half, she would go back to
My father never lift up his hand against our mother. Sometimes he would
attempt, but he never did. Sometimes he want to go to a dance (they used
to dance quadrille), and she want to go too, he don't want her to go, and
they quarrel about that. Just for so, he would find she must stay home, and
she would find he must stay home so they both quarrel.
When he was buying cocoa the boys used to steal the cocoa, and when
I get to have some understanding, I find that they have done him an injustice
by doing that, because he got indebted to Mr. Joseph through that. And they
put him before the courts for the money, he had to run away from Grenada
to Trinidad. He stayed at Trinidad for about three months and then came
back, and when he returned back home Mr. Joseph didn't worry about the
money again. Somebody must have told him, "Well, the man is old and he
has a bad foot." He used to go away for quite a long time to buy cocoa, he
had a house rented outside by the road, and sometimes people used to bring
cocoa for him-it was his shop, and he used to sleep there too. One night he
had many bags of cocoa, and he was sleeping on them. A robber came in,
opened the door, raised his head off one of the bag, take away two half bags,
and leave him and gone. It is a "trick" that they use, just as the people use
prayers and they open your door and take away things inside, and you
wouldn't know. That is a "trick" they have.
My father never used to pay much attention to the home, because he
would be away; that is the reason why we were more attached to the mother
than to him. I never get beating from my mother but once, I remember she
was beating one of my elder brothers and I started to cry, and she gave me
one or two belts for crying. Once she quarrelled with my father because he
was beating Darkie, he took some cocoa and sell it, and my father missed it,
and he went where Darkie sold it, and they told him. He bought two yards
or rope and he came and beat him with it and he got a sore on his ears, and
my mother told him he had to beat the boy, but not in that way.
I had a little schooling, at Mr. Date school, then when I was living at my
grandmother and my aunt started to follow the Adventists and they had a
day school, I went there. They teach Bible Class and other stories. When I
went to school I wasn't even eight years old. The school was at Heathfield,
a gentleman by the name of Mr. Nurse kept it. They had over sixty children
at the school, boys and girls, the oldest would be about fourteen to fifteen.
After fourteen they stay home, some of the boys they go out to work, some of
the girls they stay home. There wasn't much beating, and I cannot remember
that the children was unruly.
My mother used to deal in a shop, and I know sometimes, when life was
pretty hard with her, she owed the shop fourteen shillings, and her wages is
only eight-and-fourpence a week, and when she sent to the shop to get any-
thing they would refuse giving her. It was very troublesome to maintain the
nine children that was with her. Sometimes she would go to the estate to get
provisions, and she would hardly get. Sometimes they said it haven't got,
sometimes the watchman is not there to get for her, and she would get a
pound of sugar and make tea-chocolate-for the whole ten or eleven of us in
the home, until she able to pay the shop. Sometimes even on Sundays we
never used to drink tea, because on Sundays she was unable to get sugar to
make tea for us. In days gone the people of Grenada, the whole week they
wouldn't get tea, but on Sunday they would prepare tea for everybody in the
home. But sometimes she was even unable to prepare tea for us on Sunday.
And she only had a small bit of garden on the estate, she plant peas and
cassava, sometimes corn, but it doesn't do very well. To keep the children at
school, a private school she used to send us, she undertook to work about five
or six acres or so for weeding, herself alone, on the teacher's land. That was
to get our school. She was unable to pay the teacher, because the money she
earned on the estate was not sufficient to support the home and pay the
schooling. She tried her very best with us to get some learning, until she was
not able to do anything again.
My father, he was always careless with his home, never helped her in
order that the children should get a schooling. She would have to buy the
Sometimes when my mother is at home with us, she would speak and reason
with us about that, but she always said God is going to help us, and she
would not tell the father anything. She would say "My child, your father not
trying to help or do anything as even to help all you to get schooling. I have
to do everything myself. God is going to help me, little as it is you all will
get to know something from school."
What father do with his money we never used to know, my mother never
used to know, he never tell her anything. Not until when he couldn't pay the
parties that had advanced him money to buy the cocoa, she would hear. He
would buy his own clothes, he would buy the cloth and my mother used to
sew them for him, ordinary pants and shirts. There was one thing, she never
had trouble to pay to sew for us until we grow big, up to twenty.
My mother, although she had ten of us she wasn't weak, she was strong
and healthy, because on the estate they say the way she was brave in drogging
the cocoa, they had a mule on the estate that they call Gypsy, and they gave
her that very name; in the midst of the young women she used to head in
her cocoa before them, so they call her "Gypsy" She was very brave. She
never got sick, she suffer mostly with toothache. But she never lie in bed to
call the doctor. I remember her suffering with a toothache, oftentimes. All of
us would sit around her, sometimes the whole night, the whole day, some-
times she would have it for three days, her face swollen. But we never knew
what was the meaning of toothache, and my father would not be at home.
If my mother and father have a quarrel at home, they would quarrel and
keep quiet to themselves, but we were not allowed to say anything. I never
quarrelled with him. They were married, and he never had any other women
outside, not to an extent. We knew at one time he had a woman, but not in
a long time that should publish out to an extent. That is, when my mother get
to know, he leave it. The woman had no child for him. I liked him, because
sometimes he too, when he is home, he would sit down and give us all sorts of
stories, having little jokes of when he was young and what he knew about,
he would sit down and tell us something and we would laugh and so on, so
we never had anything against him to create a disliking. But we were more
familiar with my mother than with my father and she was kind to us.
We always had our meals together, and according to the old people's
custom, if the food ready and he is not home, they would not dish out the
food until he come in. And when he come in he would have his first, and then
the elder one and then the next, until everyone serve. There was a custom like
that with our family; I don't know whether this was from the African people,
but when I recognize her, that was her custom. She would eat inside the
house, but after everybody was satisfied. As she gave him his meal, everyone
of us would get our meal, and we would sit down inside and eat. His on the
table, and we would sit down on the floor and eat.
AT MY GRANDMOTHER
Almost my first experience is one morning when I woke up, we saw the
leaves with white things like ashes, they said it was a volcano eruption from
St. Vincent. I was about seven, I could remember that. Afterwards my grand-
mother took me to live with her. She was my mother's mother,. Mistress
John Noel; I called her "Tante" Her husband was dead, but she used to
work in the field as a labourer. And at night she used to practise us for singing.
All in the house were her grans, she had four grans besides me in the house.
She used to practise us to sing Big Drum and dance, she used to practise us
Ibo, and I could pick that up quick. She used to make all of us dance till we
say we dead! I remember the songs, one she taught us was:
E-e, Ibo, Lele-lele,
Ba ya mama ka-ki-te
Baya-mama se fa me
That's it. That's patois, it mean she is Ibo family and she won't live for the
other nation, she will trample them-that's "Ba-kakite Ibo" She couldn't
speak any African, but she was an African; whenever they have this Big Drum
she would go and open it for them, start it for them. She used to sing
Kromanti, she used to sing Bula, Quelbe, but I don't remember those. I was
trying to remember the other night, one when she is calling the spirit with an
old hoe, but it slip my memory.
After Dorothy came, my grandmother and my aunt took me because
I used to talk with a tied tongue, and they liked to hear me talk. I knew I
was going to live with my grandmother, because she came one Sunday night
and asked my mother to allow me to stay with her, and my mother said if
I liked to go I can go.
I was satisfied to live at my grandmother, because she had some of the
other children, and we could have play together, so I did not miss home. We
all were grans through daughters, Wilfred and Kathleen's mother was my
mother's sister, and the other two, their mother was another sister. She had no
children of her own living in the house, the others were working out, they
weren't staying there; she used to care the grans for them.
I missed my mother, but I was glad to be with my grandmother because
she promised me she would give me clothes and send me to school and so on,
and my mother couldn't afford to do that to all of us. I was the oldest of the
children at my grandmother, when I went to live with her.
Sometimes on Sundays I would go down and see my mother and sleep,
and return on Monday morning at my grandmother; then I was living on the
estate and my mother always come to see me, she was working on the estate
too, and sometimes when she come she have bread in her pocket, she bring
a piece of bread and give me. After I left my grandmother I went back to
live with her, she was still working as a labourer on the estate then, and she
was not better off, because the children were plenty, and according to the work
they could not do anything as to better the position. I always have the thought
that some day I must better myself, and help her.
After a time Popeson and my other brother Solomon was living at my
grandmother, and my sister Melita too, because they used to suffer with a bad
foot, and my grandmother took them over to cure it. She knew what herbs to
put on the foot, she would get different fruits and boil it and bathe the sore
and apply that. One time a fellow brought something to my mother, telling
her to look under the window, she would see a little hole, and that was the
cause of the children's feet can't get better; so when she looked she saw the
hole, and a fellow by the name of Prince and she dug that hole. He found
seven powders of different colours, he practice there. But she never found out
who put it.
My grandmother used to sit up late at night, and she was a great fighter
of those things, such as loupgarou.' She had a box just at the door, and she had
a cutlass, and sometimes she would call me and sit down at the door, and she
would scratch the slate and she would be talking to the others, and one night
I hear her say, "Venez papa, mu ka bawo." So I think, "I wonder what she
mean?" She said "Get up and go and sit down inside." And she said, "Etez
musso cutlass-moin," that is, "Come, where is my piece of cutlass?" And she
take up this piece of cutlass, she sat down in front of the door. Next minute I
heard a donkey gallop and come in the yard, but I did not see it. The others
saw it as it gallop in the yard, bright fire in the mouth and the eyes, and
she went outside and she followed it away, cursing, and she came back,
as she came back she close the door it was back again. That was a loup-
garou, the donkey. A human transform himself into the animal, and he
knew she was determined, and he was determined, to see what he could do
to her, and as she closed the door it came back again. She went after it again,
it went farther this time, and my aunt told her not to go out the third time,
it will hurt her. It remain in the yard, it pranced up, it galloped, in the
morning it gone. In the morning she said, "Well the loupgarou gone home."
Another time, she said she was walking and she met a little donkey. The
donkey would not walk in front of her, and she take up three stones and
she lick it down and she say, "Your foot big as cattle foot, you think I 'fraid
of you? I not 'fraid of you at all!" In the morning she was passing by a home,
the man of the home was rubbing his foot, he say, "This foot, here, this foot,
they say it big as cattle-foot, but it can do its work!" So she knew exactly it
was he that transform himself into that donkey. But we never get frightened
about that, because my grandmother's grandfather was an African, her father
was an African but born here. So she herself, she knew a lot of different things,
how to fight all these things, so we was not afraid of them. Just as the Africans
would know something through the Powers to fight out any evil, just so my
grandmother knew a little.
I knew a woman, when I was at my grandmother, that used to practise
witchcraft, and one day she was walking the road with a basket, and she had
pieces of bread, she had old dresses, she had combs, she had hair, and she
was confessing what she was doing, everybody's name, what she had done to
them and how she had tied them. She didn't belong to the estate, she came
from another place, walking abroad. The people on Hampstead estate never
used anything like that about one another, not to my knowing. You hear they
say that people have done things to them, but I really don't know the actual
person. Sometimes they say they find a bottle buried in their yard, they find
things, they find pieces of clothes buried about; but I don't know who really
has done that.
But they had loupgarou there, I knew of two of them that they said was
loupgarou. My uncle met one one night, he said he was at a big dance and he
saw a fire blazing and outing, blazing and outing. When he reached the spot
he met that man sitting on that spot, and the next day that man brought a
complaint to my grandmother, asking her to tell him to be careful when he was
walking at night. That man's name was Wellington, the uncle was my mother's
brother. He was on the estate. But my uncle not afraid of anything, he would
fight anything at any time at night.
The loupgarous would come in the house at night; the house closed, but
they would get in the house, and sometimes you see a blue mark burning
you. They interfere with you in that spot, they suck your blood. When they
suck your blood and they reached outside they would cast up everything,
they don't go With it. And if you could take up that blood, put it into a bottle
with other things and cast it into the sea, the loupgarou would not be able to
do another person that, he would dead.
At one time they used to make sugar and rum on Hampstead estate, but
at that time I was not born. That was the time of my grandfather; they were
Africans, and they used to work at the time of slavery. My grandmother told
us of the time of slavery, and when Africans were in Grenada. She showed us
a mango tree in the yard, big as the whole of this yard here, where some of
them went and gone up. They went into the cloud and they never see them
again, they understand they had gone back to Africa. My grandmother said
they were dissatisfied, so they went up the tree and away. In the morning they
couldn't find the most important part of the mill, the mill could not start work-
ing. The Africans had performed some science and taken it away, and they
demand to set them free and they would bring it back, so they set them free
and they said, "Well, all right, in the morning you will find it ready to work"
And in the morning they found it ready to work. Well, it got repaired and then
they were free to go, and they ascend up the tree and gone.
When I was young they used to have Nation Dances quite a lot, my
grandmother used to have that. They don't slaughter any hog with the offer-
ing, the Powers is not in favour of using any hog, but if you want to use them,
you got outside the yard and you kill it, clean it and prepare it before you
come back. Then you get an old hoe and walk right round the house and
beat that and sing and call in the spirit, then they would throw rice, they
would throw rum and sweet water in the four corners. And then they would
beat the drum first before they do any feeding of the altar. And I see them
wash the animals, the fowls or whatsoever they have, they wash them first
before they kill them. They give them sweet water and they feed them. And
then not everybody would be able to cook that food, you had to be very
silent and particular in cooking that food; you cook without salt, they don't
use garlic, no onion, no seasoning at all. And they would lay a large table and
put out everything, and put everything that the dead family used to use there.
You put the table inside, in the bedroom. They would have the bedroom
properly cleaned and make the bed clean, and they would put that table in
there. And that is just like they do in Carriacou up till today.
At first I was satisfied to live at my grandmother, but then when they
started to beat me I was dissatisfied. When I was seven all the way, I used to
wet my bed. And there was a boy by the name of Bertie, my grandmother
told them to trouble me in the road because I am wetting my bed at night,
and he started to trouble me and it hold on to fight. I used to sleep with the
other children. My grandmother was persecuting me to stop wetting my bed, but
she didn't say whether she disliked me for that. I was about ten or eleven
when I stopped, because up to the time when I went to Hampstead and
worked, I used to wet my bed.
Then my grandmother used to beat me and sometimes take an advantage,
because my two other aunts, their children were at my grandmother too, but my
aunts, were working at Mr. White's, they could afford to keep their children and
also to keep her, to treat her better than my mother could. When the time for
school came, she would bathe the other children, dress them and send them to
school, and leave me behind to cook their lunch and bring it for them. Sometimes
while they were going to school, I am getting water still. Sometimes on Sunday
I have to take my grandmother's clothes to wash it in the river, while the
other children would not touch the water. I was a little older than them, but
they could have done work. I have to find that is what get me to leave my
grandmother. We never quarrel, but I had the understanding to know that
all of us must go to school and I not going?
I never say anything to her, but I told my mother, and I told my mother
one day, "I am coming home." I take what I have and come home, and she
did not tell me anything; I went home from school that evening, I gave the
others my lunch-pan, I said, "Take it back home." I don't want anything
that belong to them, they gave me a hat, I said, "Take it back." At that time
I was about ten to eleven years. At that time I said it should not be so, the
others would be going to school, I would begin and cook their lunch and take
it for them, and go to school whilst they are studying already. I was kept
behind as a servant of them, carrying their breakfast to them. I said, "These
children must carry their own breakfast for themselves. I am going at my
My grandmother came to see me at my mother's house the very night.
She asked me what is my reason, I told her. My grandmother asked me if I
would not go back, I said "No." She asked my mother and my mother said,
"Well, he says he is not going back, so I don't know what to say." And she
remain, she talk and talk she say "If you are not coming back I am through
with you." I still did not worry with her.
I liked reading, all different books, I liked singing; reading and singing,
that was the only thing I favoured. A set of children playing hoop or so,
spinning top, I didn't worry with them. My cousin used to have marbles, he
used to beg for marbles to play, but I would not touch it, I had no likings for
that. I read the ABC book, when I were reading the ABC book I could have
read in the first Royal Reader, sometimes in the Second Standard book I could
read something in it. If you are reading in a book, I would remain alongside
of you and listen to everything, and when you put down the book I would
take it and read the very place which you read. I read the Bible when I was
at school in the Seventh Day Adventist, just a couple of days after Mr. Sweeney
told me to buy a Bible. My brother bought a Bible for 6d. and from the time
they started to read the first chapter of Genesis for me, I come home, I could
have read the first chapter of Genesis-whatsoever they told me at school I
could repeat the same things in the house.
My mother was not sick at all when I came back, she live strong and healthy
until she pass away. She was very brave, up to the time she pass away she
would go and come back so quick that you would think she get a lift by some
vehicle in the road. She never take part in wakes, but in Saraca, Nation Dance. I
don't remember who she made them for, because after I had left her home we
was not so nearby to frequent each other. The last one I remember is a woman
that was living near to us by the name of Vital, and she had this saraca, so we
went there. She was not a real middle, but any of the neighbours around that
is having a baby, before they go and call a nurse they come to get her first to
stay in the house with the person, because she understand that work very well.
My mother never make any saraca at her own home. I remember Miss Vital
had a saraca, and my mother and a next woman did everything, but that is the
last saraca I know she went to.
She used to dance the Nation Dance. She knows that very well, because
she always with her mother, and my grandmother knew all the different singing
for each and every nation. Sometimes the old people had a picnic, Christmas
Day, on some hill or other; they does that First of August, too. Everybody
make up a tray with chicken, sometimes stewed beef and other things, and
cover it nice and dress it with flowers like the people at Carriacou, they walk
up and down the road and then they go up the hill, and everyone would put
down their tray and one would eat with the other, just as a saraca. Sometimes
they dress up with blue bodice, white skirt, sometimes blue skirt, white bodice
and blue apron. They did it as Queen Victoria do. No saraca, just everybody
ate together, a rejoicing day. Sometimes if they have Cropover today, tomorrow
please God they would do that. Sometimes they have the whole week to pleasure
themselves. Sometimes Mr. White, the manager, rode his horse after them, and
he come and eat with them too. He would eat at my grandmother at any time.
Then they would have the Invitation Dance, in evening.
Every Saturday my mother would go to market to buy, but she never go
and sell. Sometimes I go with her, she would put her tray down and go and buy
anything she want and come and pop it in the tray, and I would watch it. The
people today use hand-baskets with covers; they were making them then, but
they preferred the tray and a cloth to cover it-every married woman, a tray
she used to have, even the young girls had a tray.
During that time there was something like susu" but they did not use to
call it susu, they used to call it "Partner" Three of them put five shillings each,
they give it all to one this fortnight. Next fortnight they put five shillings each,
they give it all to the other, and the following fortnight, five shillings each, the
third one got it. Never more than three people, but in susu they sometimes have
twenty, sometimes thirty, sometimes fifty. When they have fifty, they collecting
such an amount of money, sometimes they divide it between three persons, they
way, "Well, we share it between three persons; next week between another
three." I used to run a susu on the estate, sometimes eight of us at four shillings
a fortnight. My mother never took much part in that, only in Partners. They
used to work Maroon in partners, sometimes for the week, eight of them,
everybody go in one garden this evening, tomorrow the next person's, and the
following day the next, so they all get a help in their gardens. Then she always
in a Friendly Society, but she never get any good reward until she dead; always
paid money in a Friendly Society, sometimes it break up and she didn't get
anything. First Friendly Society I knew she was in and my father, each of them
used to pay a shilling, and they paid five shillings to join. The gentleman name
they used to call Mr. Bequin, and they paid that money until he spent out
everything, they never get a cent. He wasn't running a shop, but buy land.
He bought land with it at River Sallee, he live there and he used to ride a horse
and come home.
HOW I JOINED THE ADVENTIST CHURCH
I became an Adventist because I grew up with them, and that is where
I experience about this world and how you must live. I was living at my grand-
mother when my aunt, Mrs. Isaacs, had joined the Seventh Day Adventists,
and six of us, we were sent to school at the Adventist school. After she had
joined the Adventist we were taken from the other school and sent to school there.
Mrs. Isaacs had three children, my other aunt Jane had two, and myself, that was
six of us. From the time we went there, they had say about keeping the Sabbath,
and how we should live respectable and fear God. I grew up there. I was taken
away from school and went to work, but 1 still had my Bible, and I believed
that one must respect God and fear Him and obey Him.
Once when I was praying, as the heart and mind was bent solely upon God,
I got a shock just like that; at that time I have grown up, I was sitting for
baptism-about fourteen to fifteen years. I would get a shock, and my body
would shake, I thought it was ague fever, but it would die away, it leave a kind
of gladness in me. I would satisfy, I don't want water to drink, I don't want
food, but always singing, sometimes repeating some verses in the Scripture,
some psalms, and the hymn that appeal to me. My mother knew when I started
to make visions, and myself, my sister Millicent, my brother Popeson, my aunt
Jane, my cousin Mylon, we all baptise the same day. My mother never was
baptised, but she never against it, oftentimes she go to service. My father didn't
come, he used to spree a lot when he buying cocoa, but once he stop buying
cocoa he never make it a habit, just sometimes he go to a quadrille dance.
After I took some schooling in the Seventh Day Adventist school I became
interested in the Adventists by the teaching of the Bible, of the Sabbath, and
the singing-the hymns appealed very much, they caused me to follow them
very closely, and I find the teaching of the Bible was true, but at that time
I could not have decided to be a member of the church, because I was young.
I was maybe eleven or twelve. They used to meet on Saturdays and Sundays
and Wednesday nights; on Saturdays from eight to twelve and from four to
six, they would sing hymns and prayer and reading the Bible and explain.
Mr. Sweeney was the Minister. They carry on a sermon as the Anglican church
did, but they read the Scripture, comment on it, and explain what it means.
Suppose they read, "Jesus say, 'Behold, I come quickly and my reward is
waiting to give every man according to his works then they comment,
and say that that means one day Jesus will come, and those that serve Him in
spirit and in truth or obey Him, they will receive a reward from Him, and that
reward is everlasting life. They mean that He really would come and every eye
would see Him. Now in the Anglican church they would read a chapter, and
very little comment and they pass that on. Very little comment, and they pass
on, they sing one or two hymns, and they take up collection. But the Adventist
people don't do that. They take collection, but they read the scripture and they
explain it to you, that every child should know and understand what the
From the time I get to the understanding of the Scripture, I decided not to
confirm in the Anglican, I decide there was one thing I would follow, the
Seventh Day Adventists, and no other religion, because I knew there was no
other truth. They believing in the Scriptures for a special purpose and a special
purpose and a special reason-the Scripture teaches of the coming of Christ,
and one must be prepared to meet Him. But the other religions, they don't
believe Christ will come-they tell you He would not come. He wants you to
be made to love Him, but in what way they will not explain. Some people say
He will not destroy His children, He will not make His children to destroy them
with fire, as they say. But Seventh Day Adventists teaches that you would be
destroyed with fire; the Bible clarifies that. And if we believe the things that
are written in the Bible, we have to accept it as true.
When I became an Adventist, all the times when I was indulging in those
life, as smoking and drinking or so, I had to leave the Adventists, because I
knew it was not right. When I did wrong I would have a spirit, a weeping spirit,
and sorrow, I know I did wrong, and as if I am ashamed to go to the temple
to prayers. But I would never have the real idea of what it was until now, when
reading a portion of the chapter in Romans: "Your body is the temple of the
Holy Ghost and you ought to glorify God in your body. And if your body
is the temple of the Holy Ghost, it is a house for the Holy Spirit to dwell in,
it must be clean. To know how it must be clean, you read in First John, the
second chapter, somewhere about the thirteenth verse: "Love not the world,
neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of
the Father is not in him. All that is in the world is the lust of the flesh and the
pride of life. So you see, you cannot indulge yourself in the things of this
world while your body is thin temple for the Holy Ghost. I tried to be honest,
and when I done a thing wrong I don't see why I should go and sit down and
profess and praying those solemn prayers, and in my own heart to know that
I am wrong-I never done that. I left several times, yes, several times, without
any of them knowing why. When they tell me to come back I say can't, until
I get some dream to know that God is really depending on me for some purpose,
and I must put away disobedience and go back to Him and promise Him. That
is the reason why oftentimes when I leave, I go back.
Once I went to a Nation Dance. That was at Mount Navel with the
old people, and it was on a Friday night, when the Sabbath starts, and when
I came back I thought I couldn't go to church, knowing that I didn't keep the
Sabbath. I did not start with the beginning of the Sabbath, so it was untruthful
to go. My conscience isn't free towards it, it shows God is not pleased. I always
knew that, and up to today if I have done anything and it is not right in the
sight of God, I know to myself I must go and confess my fault, so that God
should answer, because when your conscience beat you, you are well beaten by
After the Nation Dance I must have stayed away about three months. I
didn't smoke then, just the Nation Dance I went to. I didn't do anything else
wrong then. The next morning after the Nation Dance, when I came home
I lie down, I drop asleep, it was Saturday morning, and I saw three gentlemen
walk into the house with their Bibles under their arm; they call me, they said,
"Come here, where is your Bible?" I said "I left it at my grandmother."
They said, "When you get it, you must read First Timothy the sixth chapter
beginning from the eleventh verse: 'And thou, man of God, flee away these
things, follow after righteousness, peace, godliness, temperance. I could not
remember presently what was the other words. That was the first time I ever
heard First Timothy At the time I was about sixteen to seventeen years. I got
up, I memorised it well, I said, "I want to see if it is the truth," and when
I went I get my Bible. I turn over,-it was the real thing that they quote to me,
in the dream. I decided that I must go back, because it is like somebody speak
to me, man to man. They had public confessions, and I went and I told them
the dream in the church, I told them what caused me to come back to the
church, and I confess what I did, and how the spirit speak to me, I have to obey.
Then I stayed with the church, about three years, until I had to go back to
work at Hampstead estate again. That was one of the things caused me to leave,
when I go back to Hampstead I would not get the Sabbath off. I felt bad about
it, and then being a young man, I had to get clothes, shoes and so on, and not
in a position to get them, and when I get offer of that work, I sorry, but
(To be continued)
I A closed community of Yoruba immigrants from West Africa.was established at
Munich near Grenville in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Within Munich,
Yoruba polytheism was practised, and this has since spread throughout Grenada as
the African Dance or Shango. "Africans", as distinguished from Creoles here are people
of African birth, or descent, or ritual adherence. The Darkness refers to the Solar
Eclipse of 1886. "The lake" is the craterlake at the Grand Etang in the middle of
2. Yoruba spirit representation. Religion an an Arican City by C. G. Parrinder,
A variety of plantain.
4. Witch (f. Sukuyan).
5. Susu (Yoruba esusu)-savings group, described belong.
Trees His Testament
A Good-Bye for Daley
Daley's dead; dust now, gone for good
Far over Jordan side
Left his body this side
Of the cold river.
Dead now, gone for good
Nobody see him till Kingdom come
And the trumpet call beyond the river
And the roll call.
Gone for good.
Lips greedy once for a woman's breast
Still now and silent
Pasture for the worm
Daley was a plumber,
Served his time to Hard Up,
Hungry Belly walked beside him
Never left him quiet,
Through the slum he had for home
From door to door he asked
If they wanted toilets fixed
And they laughed for the toilet wasn't theirs anyway
Walked and tramped from door to door
Raising cash for peace of mind,
Pocket full is belly full
Belly full is peace of mind.
Hungry Belly never left him,
Grinned and gnawed and never left him
Plumber's dead now, gone for good.
Hungry Belly restless talked
When he saw his Daley buy
Paint and canvas for a picture
For a picture when a plumber had to live.
But the painter was a-seeking
For the something that he couldn't tell about
That he knew inside himself he must search and
search and find,
Knock and knock until he find
Past the questions and divisions
Past the doubtings and the troubles
Past the doors and rows of doors
Till at last he saw it all in the trees;
They were quiet and at peace in the pastures
And beside the waters still
And upon the mountain side
Where the drought would parch the roots
And the hurricane would walk in the summer,
Trunks and roots were hard and torn
Branches broken short, and twisted,
Just to keep a footing there
Just to be a living tree.
Plumber's hand and painter's eye,
Plumber's dead and gone for good,
Over now the search for silver
Gone away is Hungry Belly
Off to find a fresh companion;
Dust the feet that walked beside him,
Turned to dust the plumber's hands
But the trees still stand together
Like they're shouting over Jordan,
And upon that skull-shaped hill top
When the eye of day is clean
Stand two trees with bitter bearing
And between the two a tree
One between the two that lifts
British Honduras and Anglo-American Relations'
Department of History, University College of the West Indies
BELIZE was one of the earliest places in the American continent to be con-
nected with Britain, but about the last to become a Colony. For some two
centuries the British Government subordinated the interests of the British
inhabitants to the paramount rights of Spain in the Bay of Honduras and
contented itself with obtaining from Spain little more than the right of the
Baymen to exist. But about a hundred years ago successive British Govern-
ments were forced to take an interest in British Honduras, and this interest led
to serious international difficulties. To understand these difficulties the situation
in British Honduras a century ago must be considered and the crux of the
matter-is that there were two situations-one in fact, and one in theory.
In fact, British Honduras was a British possession bounded more or less
by the boundaries of today-the Hondo and the Sarstoon. It had some com-
mercial importance, both because it was a source of logwood and mahogany,
and also because Belize was the port of transhipment for British exports to
Central America (particularly Guatemala, through Izabal; and Honduras,
through Truxillo and Omoa), and the outlet for the produce of Central
America principally cochineal, silver, and sarsaparilla. The population was
very mixed. There were aboriginal Indians and Caribs, and a considerable
Spanish element, which consisted of recent refugees from the neighboring
republics. The dominant, if not the most numerous, element was English or
English-speaking creole of Negro extraction. The settlement was administered
much like any other British colony. In 1854 the first meeting took place of a
new Legislative Council, consisting of elected and nominated elements, and
modelled on those in other parts of the Empire. In fact, British Honduras was
But the theory was very different. The British Government took the view
that British rights were still in the 1850's legally regulated by treaties between
Britain and Spain made in 1783 and 1786. These did no more than to permit
British subjects to cut wood between the Hondo and the Sibun. Fortifications,
formal government, and any other types of activity were forbidden under these
treaties. Moreover the treaties did not cover the area between the Sibun and
the Sarstoon, which seems to have been occupied by British subjects from
about 1820. The British Government was well aware that by exercising juris-
diction in the settlement it was infringing these treaties, and it had attempted
to induce Spain to cede the territory to Britain. But the Spanish court was
dilatory, and for various reasons unconnected with British Honduras the
Substance of a lecture delivered in Belize on 12th April, 1956, under the
auspices of the Extra-Mural Department.
British Government did not want to press it too hard. So nothing was in fact
By 1850 the Foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston, had come round to the
opinion that it might be done unilaterally. He thought that Britain should
merely inform the Spanish Government that, as Spain no longer had any
interest in that part of the world, the conditions under which the treaties had
been made no longer existed, and that accordingly Britain intended to assume
sovereignty, and would go ahead if Spain offered no objection. But this plan
does not seem to have been carried out. It was not until 1862 that the British
Government took the plunge and made British Honduras a colony.
Thus the object of British policy was to bring the theory into line with the
fact, and it is worth noting that Britain considered that the only other country
which might need to be consulted was Spain. In the end Spain does not seem
to have been consulted at all.
If Britain was aiming at bringing the theory into line with the fact, the
United States was concerned with bringing the fact into line with the theory.
American concern in British Honduras may seem surprising, but in fact the
United States had two interests there-one theoretical and the other practical.
The practical one was part of the larger question of the clash of British and
American interests in Central America as a whole, and this will be con-
sidered later. The theoretical one was the famous Monroe Doctrine-a declara-
tion made by the American President Monroe in 1823 that for the future the
American continents were not to be considered as fields for colonisation by
European powers. This was not a treaty or a binding international agreement
it was merely a declaration of American policy. But the Government in power
in the United States between 1853 and 1857 was peculiarly pledged to uphold it.
British rights in British Honduras of course ante-dated the Monroe
Doctrine; but any extension of the rights under the Spanish treaties either in
territory or in nature-e.g., by the erecting of a Government, or the carrying
on of activities other than lumbering-might well be considered to come within
its scope. Thus on principle the Americans called for the reduction of the fact
of British possession from Hondo to Sarstoon, to fit the theory of British wood-
cutting rights between Hondo and Sibun. Britain has never been prepared to
accept reasoning based on the Monroe Doctrine and has always preferred to
consider any case on its merits; but thus far-respecting the limited nature of
her theoretical rights-the British agreed with the Americans, although the
two solutions were entirely opposite.
At this point, however, the two diverged. Britain, as we have seen, still
considered Spain to be the sovereign power in the area, and apparently, not
only in the area covered by the treaties, that is north of the Sibun, but the
whole area of the British settlement. America, while admitting limited British
rights north of the Sibun, maintained that the sovereign power was either
Mexico or Guatemala, or possibly both-the one in the north and the other
in the south of the settlement. To this view these two bordering states not
unnaturally subscribed. But in the 1850's they were not pressing it very
vigorously-Guatemala was on very good terms with Britain, and so far as
Mexico was concerned, the question was complicated by the ambiguous terms
of an Anglo-Mexican treaty of 1826. But both at various times asserted claims
to parts or to the whole of British Honduras, and of course Guatemala still
The claims of Mexico and Guatemala and the view-point of the Americans
are well worth examining. They are based on a particular doctrine about the
rights in international law of an independent state which comes into existence
by revolution. This doctrine (known as uti possidetis) lays down that when a
colonial province stages a successful revolution against the authority of the
colonising power, it succeeds to all the rights of the Mother Country in that
province, and its boundaries become those of the colonial province as they
existed at the time of the establishment of independence.
Applying the doctrine to the case in question, we find that it would mean
that Guatemala would succeed to all the rights of Spain in the area of the
former province of Guatemala as it existed at the moment of independence,
and Mexico similarly in the Spanish provinces which were incorporated in that
state. These rights would include the right of sovereignty over British
Honduras, and it would be a matter of fact to determine whether these rights
belonged to Guatemala, which would be the case if the provincial boundary at
the time of independence followed the Hondo; or to Mexico, if the boundary
followed the Sarstoon; or part to each, if the provincial boundary followed the
the Sibun, or the Belize. Opinion on this question of the boundary between
the two provinces as in 1821 differs.
The doctrine is clearly well suited to the circumstances of Latin America.
There, a number of different states emerged, which wished to remain separate,
and it was convenient to have some principle on which to settle the boundaries
between them. This doctrine has frequently, but not invariably, been applied
in disputes between the Latin American States. It has, however, never been
accepted as a principle of general application in international law, and it has
in particular been repudiated more than once by Britain.
The British counter-doctrine was laid down in the 1840's by Lord
Palmerston, who stated the view that the Latin American revolutions gave to
the revolted peoples the right of independence and self-government only over
the territory they actually occupied, and that they did not inherit any rights
which Spain may have had over areas which they did not possess or occupy.
Now when Central America became independent in 1821 British Honduras
was occupied by neither Mexicans or Guatemalans. So, on Palmerston's doc-
trine, whatever rights Spain had in British Honduras remained with Spain,
and neither Mexico nor Guatemala had any rights whatever in the area.
This then was the position in the 1850's: Britain was firmly in possession
and was not prepared to answer to any country but Spain. The United States
wished to make Britain answer to Guatemala or Mexico, because it was clear
that this would in the circumstances have meant deferring to the Monroe
Doctrine. But in fact America was, as it turned out, prepared to compromise,
because of the other interests involved; and these we must now consider.
Britain had of course long had an interest in Central America. There was
British Honduras itself, and the alliance with the Mosquito Indians on the
barren shore south of the Bay of Honduras, which both dated back to the
seventeenth century. Britain was constantly trying to increase her trade with
the Spanish colonies, and was frequently at war with Spain, wars in which
the Central American issue often played some, if a small, part. In 1780 there
was a British expedition to Nicaragua, chiefly remembered for the part played
in it by Nelson, which seems to have had as its ultimate object the replacement
of Spanish by British rule in the area.
After the independence of Central America in 1821, British interest
increased, for here was a new area in which trade could now be carried on
directly and legally. British textiles and hardware were not long in finding
their way to the new republics, and British travellers made optimistic reports
on the commercial possibilities of the region. In general the policy of the
British government in the 1830's and 1840's seems to have been to keep the
area open for British trade by the extension of British political influence.
The British agents on the spot, however, had more grandiose ideas.
Frederick Chatfield, the British Consul at Guatemala, wished to secure
British political predominance and virtually to create a British pro-
tectorate over the Central American states. From Belize too, Superin-
tendent Macdonald worked for the extension of British influence. He
reasserted the British protectorate over the Mosquito Indians, thus making the
shore from Cape Gracias to the San Juan a British dependency. He further
secured the British position by annexing Ruatan, which had been occupied
by Britain from time to time in the eighteenth century. This island with its
good harbours was of some strategic importance as it effectively commanded
the gap on the coastline between the Mosquito Coast and the Sarstoon.
Macdonald also tried to assert the sovereignty of Britain over British Honduras.
In this he was not supported by the home Government, but in most other
cases the Government, though not always prepared to initiate strong measures,
was prepared to acquiesce in an accomplished fact.
There was a further factor certainly present in the minds of Macdonald
and Chatfield, but evidently not uppermost in the view of London. This was the
importance of Central America as the site for a canal or other form of inter-
oceanic transport. Various schemes had been proposed and several not very
accurate surveys made from time to time since the beginning of the century.
These ranged from Tehuantepec in Mexico to Atrato in Colombia. But in the
1840's and 1850's (and indeed for a good time after) the most likely prospect,
at least for a canal, seemed to be the Nicaragua route, the only conceivable
Atlantic terminal of which was the mouth of the San Juan. The British
Government took only a very desultory interest in these schemes. Britain was
not active in canal promotion, but was of course interested in ensuring that
she had full use of any canal which might be built.
The United States had shown equally little interest. But events in 1848
forced her attention on the question. By treaty with Mexico of that year she
acquired California. This was at the time a far-flung territory. Settlement in
the continental interior of the states had not gone far past the Mississippi and
the areas served by its western tributaries. The high plains and the Rockies,
if not altogether impenetrable, were a long and very hazardous transit. It was
thought that it would be impossible to construct a railroad from coast to
coast, though this was in fact done twenty years later. If California was to
be governed some way of getting there was essential. The route round Cape
Horn was less hazardous than that across the Rockies but it was far too long.
Naturally the American Government began to look to the isthmus of Central
America. But another event in 1848 caused not merely the Government but
all American eyes to focus on the isthmus. This was the discovery of gold in
California. When the news worked its way to New York emigrants started to
swarm to California in thousands. A railway was started at Panama, a
Nicaragua canal project was eagerly taken up, and a road and river transit
was started across the latter route.
Then the British calmly dropped their bombshell. The mouth of the
San Juan they pointed out belonged not to Nicaragua, as the Americans
seemed to think, but to His Mosquito Majesty, who had taken possession (with
British help) in 1848 of the port of San Juan del Norte, which had then been
occupied by Nicaragua, and had renamed it Greytown (after the Governor of
Jamaica). Britain was prepared to uphold the right of the Mosquito King to
this part of the territory through which the canal would have to pass.
America woke up to find that while she had not been watching Britain
had secured command of most of the Atlantic coast of Central America. It
was natural for the Americans to think that Britain was aiming at exclusive
control of the proposed canal. But this does not seem to have been true.
Britain had two objects, to maintain her position as an important, if possible
the most important, power in Central America, and to ensure that any transit
route would be open on equal terms to all nations, and would not be the
preserve of any particular country.
Considering the expansionist mood of America in the 1840's, the reaffirma-
tion of the Monroe Doctrine, and the frequent assertions that it was the
'manifest destiny' of the United States to extend over the whole North Ameri-
can continent (and this could be said to include Mexico, Canada, Cuba and
Central America), it is perhaps not surprising that Britain felt that the only
way to ensure equality in Central America was to have tangible assets with
which to bargain.
However the administration which came into power in America in 1849
was not disposed to be exclusive, whatever its agents in Central America and
the American press might try to do. It was swiftly realized that at least for the
moment British and American interests in Central America were not irrecon-
cilable. America wanted a canal, and Britain wanted any canal to be open.
Neither country trusted the other, but they were able to agree to work
together for a canal on the basis of mutual self-denial. Both agreed not to
occupy or colonise Central America, nor to obtain any exclusive control over
any canal. This agreement was embodied in the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty of
This treaty has been very much abused, but in fact it gave solid advan-
tages to both sides, who would now be equal sharers in any canal. It secured
Britain's position in Central America against American territorial expansion.
It gave America a position of equal status in an area which Britain had pre-
viously dominated. The trouble with the treaty was that it was ambiguous.
Clayton, the American negotiator, was in a difficult position as the expansionist
party was still very strong, and a treaty which restricted expansion was not
popular. Clayton's solid gain of equal partnership was not enough for the
expansionists. When they came into power again in 1853 they chose to inter-
pret the treaty as necessitating complete British withdrawal from Central
America. The British, however, while agreeing that Greytown should pass out
of British control and be neutralised, maintained that as regards other posses-
sions the treaty was not retrospective, but only prohibited colonisation in the
future. This difference of opinion led to several years of serious bickering, and
strained Anglo-American relations.
Now what was the position of British Honduras under the Clayton-Bulwer
Treaty? It was not mentioned in the text. But when the treaty was ratified it
was made clear by an exchange of notes that it did not apply to British
Honduras. These notes did not of course have the same binding effect in
international law as the treaty itself. But it could be argued that British
Honduras could not in any case come under the treaty as it was not part of
Central America, which was at this time a political, rather than a geographical
expression, and referred to the five republics (Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador,
Nicaragua and Costa Rica) which had been from 1821 to 1838 united in the
Central American Federation. But as we have seen there were two possible
views on this-the British view that the Central American States did not
succeed to all Spanish rights, and the American view that they did. Thus the
Americans could interpret the exemption of British Honduras as applying only
to the British rights under the old Spanish treaties. Thus so far as British
Honduras was concerned the treaty did not alter the confused situation at all.
The British early showed some disposition to clear up the matter of
Greytown and the Mosquitos. They were prepared to induce the Mosquitos to
withdraw from the port and to place it under international control. America
was prepared to agree to such a solution; but Nicaragua was not. She demanded
full sovereignty over the Mosquito Indians, and this was just what Britain
would not yield. The Americans fell into the error of thinking that the British
championing of the Mosquito independence was simply a device to secure for
themselves control over the canal. But having once asserted Mosquito indepen-
dence and accorded protection the British did not feel they could recede from
that position altogether. Greytown they were prepared to give up. But not the
rest of the Mosquito territory. Prestige was of course one reason, but there does
seem to have been a genuine concern-part sentimental, part humanitarian-
for protecting the Mosquitos. It was this intangible element that the Americans
failed to appreciate. They could not see why Britain was prepared to give up
the only material interest Greytown and not prepared to abandon the
Another complication soon arose to make a settlement more difficult.
Ruatan and the other Bay Islands had been occupied by the British from the
time of Superintendent Macdonald in 1839. Immigration from the Caymans
had produced a population of over 1,000 which enjoyed no settled form of
Government. Britain had discouraged settlement there, but by 1850 was begin-
ning to have to take note of the demands of the British settlers for protection.
There was some shadowy British claim to the islands, and it could be argued
that they did not come under the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty-either because they
were dependencies of British Honduras, or if that would not hold water, because
they were West Indian Islands, like Jamaica, and thus not part of Central
America. After lengthy correspondence and investigation the Bay Islands were
declared a colony in 1852.
Thus in 1853, when a new American minister arrived in London, there
were three Central American issues of burning importance. This minister
was James Buchanan-possibly the most high-powered diplomat to hold that
post. He had directed American foreign policy as Secretary of State under the
expansionist President Polk from 1845 to 1849, and when he left his post in
London it was to become President of the United States. His objectives were
clear-to drive the British out of the Bay Islands and the Mosquito Shore and
if possible also Belize, but at least to reduce Belize to the nature and extent
of the treaties of 1783-6. He was opposed to the whole idea of the Clayton-
Bulwer t eaty because of the restrictions which it placed on American
ambitions, and the exigencies of American party politics made him insist on
bringing the treaty into line with the Monroe Doctrine, by enforcing the
American interpretation that obliged the British to abandon Central America
He very nearly succeeded. Although the British Cabinet was not pre-
pared to accept his lengthy legal and historical arguments in their entirety,
they had already shown a willingness to neutralise (reytown and were pre-
pared to abandon the Mosquito protectorate if there were adequate guarantees
for the Indians. They were also prepared to yield over the Bay Islands, which
had come forcibly into the picture through the development of a scheme for an
inter-oceanic railway through Spanish Honduras, from Puerto Caballos, near
Omoa, through the capital, Comayagua, to the Gulf of Fonseca. It was clear
that the Bay Islands would command the Atlantic terminal of this route, and
on their own principles regarding inter-oceanic transit the British could scarcely
remain in full possession. Moreover, even before the railway question came up,
it seems that the British Foreign Secretary, if not his whole government,
regarded colonisation of the islands as only a temporary measure. They were
thus prepared to recognize Honduran sovereignty (leaving out altogether the
question of the rightful ownership of the islands) with certain safeguards for
the political and religious liberties of the British subjects living there. British
Honduras was irrelevant to the transit question, and the American demands
there were based much more on the desire to apply the Monroe Doctrine than
any real issue or interest. But even here it seems that the British were at first
prepared to yield-to abandon the area south of the Sibun, and to repudiate
the progress already made towards full sovereignty, by returning to a strict
adherence to the limited rights conferred by the Spanish treaties. It seems most
likely that this sweeping concession was considered because of the general
international situation. The Crimean War, between Britain and Russia, broke
out while the Central American questions were under discussion.
But before this favourable answer could be returned to Buchanan, and
possibly before it was agreed on by the whole cabinet, the news arrived that
the Americans had resorted to force. Greytown was still under British-Mosquito
control, but was on an important American transit route to California. This
led to an explosive situation which resulted in the bombardment of the town
by an American warship, an act which the American government did not
disavow. Although Britain took no direct action about this, as she might well
have done, it naturally arrested the negotiations and hardened the British atti-
tude. Britain never again offered to yield over British Honduras, and Buchanan,
having failed to make the settlement conform to the Monroe Doctrine, allowed
the negotiations to drag out until the end of his mission.
Neither Buchanan nor his President, Pierce, wish to compromise over the
Monroe Doctrine as both were angling for nomination as Democrat candidate
for the Presidency. Moreover the matter had assumed less urgency. The
enthusiasm for a canal had somewhat waned after more careful surveys had
been made, and the cost calculated. The freedom of Nicaraguan or Honduran
transits became less vital with the progress of the Panama railway. This was
started from the Atlantic end in 1850 and was soon carrying passengers as far
as the rails went. By 1852 it was half-way across, and at the beginning of 1855
it reached the Pacific and an easy transit was at last available. Thus the
Americans were not in too much of a hurry to clear the matter up. The British
too became more reluctant to yield up any positions in Central America when
American filibusters invaded Nicaragua in 1855. The motives of the filibusters
were varied and complex. The movement was one manifestation of the preva-
lent feeling in America for expansion; and in particular it was connected with
the desire of Southerners for more slave territory. In Central America it seems
also to have been connected with financial interests concerned with securing
American control of the inter-oceanic transit. Whatever the cause, the erection
of a temporary American dictatorship in Nicaragua under William Walker,
who was not discouraged by the United States Government, threatened to
make nonsense of the non-occupation clause of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty.
However once the political position became easier after Buchanan had
won the Presidential nomination, negotiation on a basis of compromise was
much easier. Buchanan's successor in London, George Dallas, was given
rather more reasonable instructions. The Americans seemed to have realized
that so far as the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty was concerned they were on much
less safe ground with regard to British Honduras than with the other matters.
The British seemed to have realized too that only over that issue had they a
leg to stand on. It was now not difficult to reach a compromise. The Americans
were prepared to admit the existence of British Honduras and acquiesce in its
boundary being fixed at the Sarstoon if Britain would clear out of Mosquito
and the Bay Islands. The American Government was likely to remain under fire
as long as the British position in Central America remained unimpaired. The
British Government must have been even more eager for some settlement,
and no doubt welcomed the more reasonable attitude of the Americans.
Relations between the two countries were strained at the time over many
issues, and there was a strong possibility that any diplomatic slip-up might
lead to war. But neither side really wanted war, and in particular the English
manufacturing interests would have regarded it as disastrous. It was clear that
the Government would get no support from the public over the Central
Had Dallas held out and had the matter come up for public discussion in
Britain, the ministry might have been forced to yield over British Honduras
too. Pressure was already being brought to bear on the Government to settle
all outstanding matters with America by the powerful Lancashire textile manu-
facturers, who had little interest in colonies, but who were dependent on
American supplies of raw cotton. Had the Government not been prepared to
accept the American interpretation of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, they might
have had to accept the other American suggestion-that the treaty should
be entirely abrogated. This would of course have put the clock back to 1850.
While Britain, in these circumstances, could have maintained all her posses-
sions in Central America, it is difficult to see how the clash of British and
American interests, which made the treaty necessary in the first place, could
have been resolved without conflict. In such a conflict the American Govern-
ment could have expected much better support from the American public than
the British Government could possibly have hoped for from the British public.
This being the case it seems likely that had the Americans insisted,
Britain would have withdrawn all claims from British Honduras, except the
old wood-cutting rights between Hondo and Sibun under the old Spanish
treaties, in order to preserve the Clayton-Bulwer treaty. Such a sacrifice,
which would have been much more moral than material, would probably have
been considered well worth while. The Clayton-Bulwer treaty was valuable
to Britain because it prevented American annexation of Central America and
exclusive American control of an inter-oceanic canal. Its worth was proved by
the consideration which had to be given to Britain when the Panama canal
question came up in 1900.
The Americans however did not insist. They also had no wish for war.
They possibly feared that had the treaty been abrogated, and both countries
left with a free hand in Central America, the strong feeling against the United
States, which the attacks of the filibusters had produced in the republics,
might well have resulted in making the British position there impregnable.
Dallas and Lord Clarendon, the British Foreign Secretary, reached an
agreement in 1856, which provided for a solution of the Mosquito question,
and in which Britain agreed to hand over the Bay Islands to Honduras, and
to settle with Guatemala the western boundary of British Honduras, the
southern boundary being acknowledged by the Americans to be the Sarstoon.
For various trivial reasons this agreement was not ratified, and the whole
thing seemed to be in the melting pot again. The delay was prolonged by the
renewal of filibustering attacks which made it inexpedient to transfer territory
to the weak hands of Central American republics, and also by some uncertainty
over the intentions of the American Government once Buchanan became
President. It was for a time feared that once Britain had withdrawn the
Americans would renounce the Treaty and move in to annex parts of Central
America. But this proved illusory, and in 1859-60 the whole matter was settled
to the satisfaction of the Americans in treaties between Britain and Nicaragua,
Honduras and Guatemala.
This having been done, the Americans made no protest when British
Honduras was raised to the status of a colony in 1862. Perhaps she could
hardly be expected to as the Civil War was then in full swing. It was not for
another twenty years that America decided to protest. She wished to set aside
the Clayton-Bulwer treaty and go ahead with a canal project on her own.
Some pretext for such a violation of an international agreement had to be found,
and it was found in the colonisation of British Honduras. The British were
able to show that the area in question had been specifically excluded from
the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty by the notes exchanged on ratification, and, though
there were occasional bombastic utterances about this violation of the Monroe
Doctrine, the American Government took no action. The next challenge to the
British position in British Honduras was to come from Guatemala, and to
result in a long-drawn-out, and still unresolved controversy. But that is quite
The standard work on the Central American question in the mid-nineteenth century
is still M. W. Williams, Anglo-American Isthmian Diplomacy 1815-1915 (Baltimore,
1916). But this excellent monograph now requires to be supplemented by more recent
work-the author's own article on 'John Middleton Clayton' in S. F. Bemis (ed.),
American Secretaries of State and their Diplomacy, VI (New York, 1928); the editor's
notes on the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty in Hunter Miller (ed.). Treaties and other Inter-
national Acts of the United States of America V, (Washington, 1937); G. F. Hickson,
'Palmerston and the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty', Cambridge Historical Journal III (1931);
and above all three articles by R. W. van Alstyne, 'The Central American Policy of Lord
Palmerston', Hispanic-American Historical Review XVI (1936), 'British Diplomacy and
the Clayton-Bulwer .Treaty' Journal of Modern History XI (1939), and 'Anglo-
American Relations 1853-57' American Historical Review XLII (1936-7). Much of the
source material has been conveniently printed in W. R. Manning (ed.), Diplomatic
Correspondence of the United States Inter American Affairs 1831-60 VII (Washington,
There is no satisfactory work on British Honduras in the nineteenth century.
S. L. Caiger, British Honduras Past and Present (London, 1951) is so brief that in some
ways A. Gibbs, British Honduras (London, 1883) is still more useful. More information
can be extracted from the summaries of selected documents printed in Sir. J. A. Burdon,
Archives of British Honduras III (London, 1935). For the various canal projects a
useful compilation is G. Mack, The Land Divided (New York, 1944). A reliable guide
to the Guatemalan question is R. A. Humphreys, 'The Anglo-Guatemalan Dispute',
International Affairs XXIV (July, 1948).
Letter to the Editor
THE EDITOR, Caribbean Quarterly
It seems to me that the University
College of the West Indies is bent upon
getting James Stephen canonised!
First of all, we have Professor Elsa
V. Goveia's review of Paul Knaplund's
James Stephen and the British Colonial
System (University of Wisconsin Press,
1953). This appeared in No. 4 of Vol. 3
of the Caribbean Quarterly. Unfor-
tunately, I have not had the oppor-
tunity of reading that book, because in
the review of it in the Quarterly no price
was quoted, and in Grenada we have not
many American dollars to spare. But
the reviewer herself was unstinting in
her endorsement of all the praise lavished
therein upon James Stephen. It did not
seem to me, however, that the reviewer
could have known of a book called
Conception Island (Sands, 1932). So I
ventured to write to the professor, at
the same time instructing the publishers
to send her a copy of the book for the
historical section of the University
College library. This they did, but for
some mysterious reason, neither of my
letter nor of the receipt of the book did
I get any acknowledgment.
And now, the distinguished joint
authors of A Short History of the West
Indies (Macmillan, 1956) refer to the
same James Stephen as "most upright
and most conscientious of public ser-
vants" (p. 186). But neither do they
seem to have noticed Conception Island,
more to my regret than surprise. In their
two consecutive chapters on "Abolition
and Emancipation" and "The Best and
Worst of Times", there is but one in-
significant reference to Grenada, and
that one, incidentally, accidentally
omitted in the index. Yet there were
one or two points in the history of
Grenada the record of which would have
added a little more, may I say, spice to
those already interesting chapters. How
the Council and Assembly of Grenada
had established claims on the favourable
attention of the Secretary of State "from
the dispositions they had evinced to give
effect to his recommendations in favour
of the slaves and people of colour."
How there were practically no violent
disturbances in Grenada, such as occurred
in other colonies, during those difficult
years around Emancipation. How this
was largely due to the extraordinary in-
fluence exercised over thousands of the
Negroes by an exceedingly troublesome,
and actually "suspended" Catholic
priest. And how, finally, the behaviour
of this priest during those last critical
years was the occasion of his reconcila-
tion with the Government of Grenada,
with the planters of the Colony, and
finally with the Catholic Church.
To return, however, to James Stephen,
and to my joke that there would seem
to be people who would like to see that
gentleman canonised. For the tempta-
tion is much too strong for me not to
offer my services. at once as advocates
When I was writing Conception Island,
I knew no more of James Stephen,
Junior, than that he was one of the
Crown Lawyers in England between 1828
and 1839, during which time he had a
very great deal to do with Grenada. Far
from wanting him canonised, I came to
the conclusion that he was a self-
opinionated and self-righteous man,
somewhat bigoted and by no means
eager to be helpful in difficult situations.
Even to make a synopsis of the history
of the Schism in Grenada, during which
Emancipation took place, would occupy
far more space than should be allotted
to a letter like this. The dispute-really
the plural should be used-the disputes
were long and violent as well as in-
volved. Suffice it to say that on nearly
every occasion on which a verdict was
pronounced by the Secretary of State,
that is, on the advice of James Stephen,
it was reprobated in Grenada in no un-
certain terms. If James Stephen was not
lacking in intelligence, and one can
hardly accuse him of that, then most
certainly was he lacking in good will.
One stroke of the pen, the removal
(which in the end of course did take
place) to another sphere of "usefulness"
of a very queer Chief Justice, and peace
would have been restored. Instead of
which, Governor, Acting Governor,
Attorney and Solicitor Generals, and
Members of Council were, as one might
almost say, hauled over the coals, and
all on account of a Catholic priest, sus-
pended from the use of his priestly
functions by the authorities of the
Church. Manifest contradictions mat-
tered not at all, as when the Acting
Governor was found guilty of "sys-
tematic persecution" of Catholics, and
at the same time of giving too much
"recognition to their establishment"
For years the whole Colony was in a
state of confusion over this petty affair
which James Stephen had it in his power
to assuage and failed signally to do so.
Little wonder that the two local news-
papers, rivals of course, and both under
Protestant management, were in agree-
ment over this, voicing as both of them
did public opinion.
There is no need then for the devil's
advocate to do more than to point to
the respectable people of Grenada, who
were all loud in their disapproval of the
decisions, most of which emanated
originally from the mind of one who was
to become Sir, but not quite Saint,
FR. R. P. DEVAS, o.P.
Britain and the U.S.A. in the Caribbean:
A comparative study in Methods of
Development. By Mary Proudfoot.
London, Faber, 42/-.
'THE object of this study is to focus
attention upon a very small area, viz.,
the British and American Caribbean
islands, in an attempt to review these
different methods (of development) in
some detail, and to determine, in each
case, the results (p. xi)' 'It would seem
highly desirable that these two Great
Powers should pay close attention
to each other's methods, so that each
may derive the maximum benefit from
the experiences of the other (p. xi)'
The book is thus directed towards
British and American audiences, rather
than the Caribbean It further seeks to
influence those in Britain or America
who are concerned directly or otherwise
with Caribbean problems. Its interest to
Caribbean readers therefore consists pri-
marily in the fact that it is an example
of the type of approach and argument
which influences or typifies policy dis-
cussions at the metropolitan level. In this
context it is revealing in many ways.
For example, the object is to assess
the results of British and American pro-
grammes in their Caribbean dependen-
cies. In the Preface we are informed that
the study lasted roughly six years, only
six months of which were spent in the
Caribbean. 'This study is based for the
most part on official reports, many of
which are only available in the area
(p. xii)' Thus administrative reports and
pronouncements are taken at face value,
both as evidence of intentions and results
of action. This type of procedure is
stultifying at best, and can be seriously
misleading. It virtually rules out the
chance of independent estimates of the
success of administrative schemes, when
these estimates reflect administrative
The comparison issues in a type of
discursive inventory approach similar in
character to Government Handbooks.
The spotlight is focused on the social,
economic, or political problems facing
the agents of metropolitan administra-
tion, and these problems are given serial
treatment in a 'comparative' review
which is insufficiently detailed for illumi-
nating analysis on most topics. The sys-
tematic relations of these various 'prob-
lems' to one another is also obscured,
though development programmes must
take these inter-relations into account
directly if they are to succeed.
The book is disappointing therefore
because it does not fulfil its object of
comparing American and British policy
in the Caribbean fruitfully. The com-
parison it presents is not useful for many
reasons. Firstly, as mentioned above, it
is attempted without adequate informa-
tion on the results of such policy. Quite
apart from the ambiguities and vague-
ness characteristic of policy formulation
for the British West Indies it may well
be much too early to make any useful
assessment of the 'results' of recent
Secondly, one would expect that the
conclusions from a comparative review
of this character would show that parti-
cular methods enjoyed differing degrees
of success in dealing with or reducing
particular problems. But this expectation
is not fulfilled, and the concluding sum-
mary after reviewing each topic simply
restates the data already reported and
attempts to hold a magisterial balance
between the two metropolitan actors.
This balance itself relies heavily on
value-judgments and cliches, which des-
troy the virtue of the comparative
Finally, neither the objects of British
and American policy, nor the contexts,
metropolitan and local, in which policy
is applied offer the type of data essen-
tial for a useful comparison. The dis-
similarities between Puerto Rico and the
British West Indies are greater than a
regorous comparison at this level can
accommodate. The same point applies to
the objects of British and American
policy in many ways, as for instance is
illustrated by their differing conception
of constitutional development, the role of
the Governor, housing programmes,
University education for the area, and
But the failure of this comparison to
indicate any general principles or pat-
tern of colonial development does not
warrant the author's conclusion that no
such pattern or method exists. This may
well be true; but it does not follow from
this study. What becomes clearer as one
reads through the volume is that the
comparative method is here being mis-
In the end one is left with a feeling
that the real purpose of the book is not
so much to attempt a comparison, but
to inform Britain and the U.S.A. of
the type of action that is being taken
in the Caribbean by one another, and
the type of consideration on which that
action is based. The volume may, in
fact, simply be regarded as an apologia
for current British Caribbean policy. As
such it may fail to impress the Ameri-
cans and be unnecessary in Britain, but
still be worth study in this region.
M. G. SMITH.
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE, TRINIDAD, B.\V.I.-1957